By E. S. Jones
Maurizio Camatta’s works create exciting atmospheres, illuminating the natural curiosity of the spectator. Brilliant flashes of lightning and layers of charged elements blaze in the gathering gloom, creating his Electrical Storms. Within these canvas clouds, electrons knock knees with rising damp, kettled by the fierce outside forces. Geomagnetic clashes burn hotter than the sun, with auroras like haloes and ripping through the material of the sky. Beautifully lit on the gallery walls you find yourself wondering if the paintings would glow, even with the blinds drawn, and the lamps dimmed several octaves lower.
Unusually, Camatta finishes his abstracts with threads, as though they were musical instruments from a fantastical space orchestra. With more than a nod to string theory, they appear to be dissections of the ‘stuff’ we are made of. Like super magnified particles, the colours darkly vibrate their universal symphony, hinting at hidden things beyond our reach. In front of these works it is easy to marvel at our origins, to imagine a multi-verse of black holes, interstellar gasses and extra dimensions, to predict our eventual fate.
Camatta is the ultimate chromatographer, revealing another layer just the other side of what is perceived. As in a school science experiment, we see that blackness is not nothingness. Just as the felt pen separates into its colourful components on filter paper, so space is not actually empty but stuffed full of dark energy. It may seem like science fiction to start talking of ideas like cross-dimensional gateways, but our endless investigations have already identified previously unimagined pieces of the puzzle: up/ down/ strange/ charm/ bottom/ top quarks, neutrinos, muons, tuons and electrons. We are relentless in our pursuit of the elusive Higgs boson that will complete the jigsaw and give us The Theory Of Everything. This missing piece still nettles us today about life’s meaning. We question the existence of a ‘God particle’, blaming butterflies for triggering tornados.
So how long is a piece of string theory? Ancient texts described ‘this and yonder world and all beings (as) strung together’. They speculated about the ropes connecting earth to sun, and the mysterious solar winds. The Upanisadic philosopher Gargi first challenged the sage Yajnavalka about ‘the thread on which all worlds are interwoven’, many moons before we began to unravel string theory. Perhaps these ideas have always been there, laid out to help find our way through this Minotaur’s labyrinth.