At a recent Brancaster Chronicle whilst Tony Smart, it occurred to me that the language used to describe the work often ran into conflicts. Smart's work is radical and exciting and is part of an unfolding of work which could be categorised as "Open Sculpture". Below are some thoughts on the language used or touched upon in a Chronicle such as this and the respective possible meanings of certain words. Please comment if you wish. (the Chronicle will be posted on the branchron.com site shortly)Read More
I enjoyed the first Group show of The Brancaster Chronicles that I have exhibited in (being unable to participate in the initial one). It is on show at the moment in the Heritage Gallery in Greenwich’s Naval College buildings. Stunning Wren symmetry and grandeur. A great location on the river. The show features 1 work from 9 artists who had a Chronicle last year.Read More
I do not identify drawing in terms of delineation or as a vehicle for tone, rather I see it in much broader way as the 'mechanics of making.' I am an abstract painter and handling colour through painting requires organisation, strategy and that old chestnut, persistence. These qualities are, to my mind, determined holistically by drawing. Getting the drawing up to speed establishes how successful the painting will be - how well made it will be. Colour is the seeing - drawing is the making. I will often draw after making a painting to look at the lateral forces at play and explore further possibilities. Taking these forces back into paint compels me to be confident and this in turn dictates my sense of scale. Everything comes from the drawing.
The crux of making art lies in the attitude to spontaneity and having a skill set to tackle problems as they arise. Problems that arise when things are being made – the friction of creativity.Read More
Decorative as in not having a specific descriptive function which obeys acquired rules of construction (“compare European sculptures based upon the ‘muscle’ with African ones based upon the medium” Matisse paraphrased) Did Picasso ever escape this approach or rather moved to the extreme end of the same axis…? , not decorative as in not just a ‘streamlined’ arrangement of colour and pattern (Louis Valtat a minor example, though if you want to start a sword fight with anyone – compare with Derain?)- this is the notion of colours just existing in their own right with no “pressure” (witness recent discussions on Abcrit) , decorative as in a full synthesis of perceived – real, fluid- space translated into painted space -(absorbing and extending the lesson of Cézanne and NOT coming up with cubism which took his vernacular and returned it to point 1 – see above), not decorative as in a systematic synthetic formatting (which is where twentieth century modernism went). I think it’s such a complex word to explore and may well continue to be redefined. Matisse saw colour as a “force” and used colours which “collide” into one another, however his painting journey to get to the late 40s (for it was a wilfully investigative one) was delightfully meandering and lit up so many intriguing side roads (for so many others to wander down).
Although Cézanne’s approach was to synthesise what he saw, he maintained the nineteenth century instinct to depict. I think his level of synthesis is what transcended his depiction and made him essential for the twentieth century and why it still resonates so deeply today in the twenty first (not for some…perhaps). The issue of synthesis needs a new focus maybe; the relationship between what is seen and what is made does not pivot on depiction. It is far more symbiotic than that (not for some…perhaps). A writer wants a narrative. You cannot escape this; it is this desire that has fuelled the rise of curation. Curation is rooted in the literal. At its best it can be enlightening but it is never ‘essential’. If a painting has gone through the necessary heat of synthesis, it should come out fully cooked – any trace of the mix means it’s not done yet. A post modern lens will always pardon the lack of this ‘essential’ as a quality as the oven is never on anyway so everything gets served cold.
...It’s funny how bravado dissipates to chic melancholy with the passing of time. It could have been the fact it was a lovely mild December evening, the hour was late and the gallery sparse, for I actually quite enjoyed wandering around the show and just let it wash over me...Read More
CIA Headquarters, Langley, 1955. A warm, damp Autumn evening; leaves rush and whisper, shaking off their rain drops as the twilight slowly fades yet lingers long enough to kiss the last puddles of water a gentle good night.
On the fourth floor we see a stark light burning out incandescently from a solitary window, opened slightly to let in the cooling Virginia air. The whole building below in almost complete darkness save the foyer and janitor’s cupboard; its occupants have long since left for home or the few bars that welcome the emotionally troubled or down at heel with equal benevolence.
Inside this lit room sit 3 men around a modest table; a polished walnut affair with a pleasing solidity yet fine slender legs. Scattered out over the table top are an array of photographs, black and white, images of what to our eyes now would look like familiar abstract paintings, the kind of thing pastiched in a thousand high schools during an afternoon Art class...Read More
The reviewing of a body of your own work can cause confusion as you narrow down your approach and condition yourself to continue working in the same vein. Just doing something and bearing down on it, is enough. The choreography of style is a major hinderence to making work of true merit.
I recently saw the Caro show of "Book Sculptures" at Annely Juda in London. I enjoyed it - it’s like having a really nice meal in a fancy restaurant - everything is put together so well (and tastefully) with such great ingredients. Once you get to a level of skill, experience or competence the safer route is to produce more and more of it.Read More
Each time colour decisions are made, I try to avoid taste and aim for luminosity, by that I mean the result of how the colours interact - or at least the ambition I have when deciding upon the colour. I consider surface as meaning that the whole thing needs to be active and end up working together. I am not suggesting a miasmic soup. Furthermore I don't think dealing with colour means you can't build space into the work. Space can happen through the colour, but it is surprising - when you try to control it, it tends to lead to tonality - a sort of predictable and predicted space. Colour can 'breathe' or it can look turgid and there's a whole range of degrees in between. You can set up systems and so forth and find ways to describe them, but I think its simpler - either the colour adds up to something greater than its parts or it doesn't.
Either you get Rigden or you don't. If you don't , you need to think again about your take on Art, because Geoff was bang on the line, the point at which Art gets made. His work bears this out - it's watertight , never leaks.Read More
....A painter moves from a mode of philosopher to sportsman, from cerebral to physical. I never plan or even try to predict the outcome of a painting or even an instance of paint application. Instead I commit with intensity to each instance and believe it to the point that it should not only take care of itself but hopefully set up a momentum which will be maintained with every subsequent instance. This approach reassures me that I always gave it my best shot.Read More
.....“I saw those recently in London for the first time in the flesh” I said. “In the flesh,” he reiterated my phrase; “correct terminology, good for you young man."Read More
You have to work really hard to get to the “hum” of art, or you can chose not to try, but you’ll end up with silence and will have to rely on providing the noise after the fact.Read More
I have been making large sized ink drawings over the past few months. Although I have several on smaller sizes, it is when I am working on 8ft x5ft that I feel I am getting the maximum out of the physicality of the drawing.Read More
To get a difficult or ambitious job done , work at the supporting mechanisms firstRead More
I have long considered the word drawing to mean ‘making’ in the fullest sense of the word.Read More
I want to believe that abstract painting can be as great as figuration, but this is a battle that must be fought on abstract art’s terms and not figuration’s.Read More
I am looking forward to exhibiting in my homeland next month. I will be showing paintings from my "Roll series" , made in the mid nineties alongside figurative Lino prints which are new. I have chosen to work figuratively for several reasons : as an interesting counterpoint to the completely abstract rolls; as monotone works to contrast with the full chroma rolls; to get me moving rapidly into print - I have been making lino prints very quickly and spontaneously . This has proved to be immensely rewarding, in terms of decision making (the figuration somehow neutralises the decisions and makes them more pragmatic ) and also in terms of letting me work anyway I chose . It is liberating to know you can do this and mean it . I will post images next month when the show opens.