‘Teaching Aids 2’ by Colin McCahon

The painting is multilayered in it’s language, concept and meaning. It
consists of 10 chalkboards, on which there are landscapes, painted in
white on black. There are also hopscotch grids and crosses (crucifixions)
some of the rectangles contain numerals – some of the numerals have been
rubbed out. Human attempts at understanding the meaning of life, questions
about the purpose of human existence, the purpose of the universe, the
existence or otherwise of God – have been represented numerically –
algorithms, columns, and patterns of numbers attempt to encode meaning
and refer to the language of pure mathematics and physics – Why are we
here? What is out there? Is there a God? Does it matter? Why does it
matter? We try to understand, we encode and deconstruct, we make mistakes,
mistaken attempts to understand are important – it is in the act of
trying to understand and trying to create meaning that we humans are at
our best. There is humility, love and anguish in this painting. There is
reason and there is abandonment. It is a deeply authentic work that does
not try to win any prizes – it’s value is in the rigour and flexibility of
it’s creator’s intelligence in his flexibilty of mind, in it’s multiple
frames of reference, in the synthesis of those frames and in the artist’s
love and intent. That it is terribly lonely is part of it’s comfort.