Helping out…

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Cape Poem (left) & Gwarra (right)

Earlier this autumn I put on another show at Deda in Derby.  My contributions are shown above.  I donated Cape Poem to the organisation as part of a fundraiser and contributed a short video piece that can be viewed here.   I’ve a great fondness for Deda and been a long time supporter as well as putting on shows there.  I’d appreciate any support that others might give them!

Ahead of schedule

WG98
Wonky Geometry No. 97, mixed media on paper, 27 x 27 cm. Nov. 2019

‘schedule’ – don’t make me laugh…it’s hardly that.  Nonetheless I dug out this series (still another 100 or so in the work pile) a few days back and chose a few I felt were nearing a kind of conclusion if not a proper resolution.  And now I’ve done four more to take it to a hundred – a sort of milestone I guess – and all well ahead of the festive season so hence the ‘schedule’ notion albeit only in my head.

WG100
Wonky Geometry No. 100, mixed media on paper, 27 x 27 cm. Nov. 2019

Lunar Pulls

The Flight Of White Shadows
The Flight Of White Shadows, Acrylic on canvas, 92 x 92 cm. Oct. 2019

So this new series of paintings now has a title…from a quotation by Will Self.  “I am a great believer in the idea that seascapes exert some kind of lunar pull on the imagination.” that comes from a short essay of the year he spent on Rousay – one of the Orkney Isles.  This picture utilises yet another Peter Redgrove poem extract from the 1972 collection Dr. Faust’s Sea-Spiral Spirit & Other Poems.

If only…

Younghusband
YOUNGHUSBAND PROCLAIMS
Acrylic on paper, 106 x 94 cm. 2019

I had a very deep pocket and access to a very large gallery!  The Landscape & Memory series is now complete, not before time it must be said.  After all the first tranche (the Wood section) began back in Spring 2016 with the first completed works dated that summer.  the second (Water) dallied through 2017 and into last year with the final group (Rock) starting then and bringing us up to the beginning of autumn 2019.  It is 54 works in all that I have always envisaged in three blocks of 18, most likely 2 up and 9 across (as was the case with the first section that I showed at Harrington Mill – though a tall space might suggest a more vertiginous arrangement?

As for the cash…I did show at HMS with the works (all on paper) pinned directly to the wall but the framing up of one piece from Wood courtesy of a purchase by friends and posted here a while back clearly showed up how much better they would look all done.

Alpine
ALPINE REMARK OF JOHN DENNIS                                 Acrylic on paper, 106 x 94 cm. 2019

This would likely require an outlay of upwards of twelve grand.  Any takers for a bit of sponsorship then?!

 

In praise of…tinkering

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I recently commented upon the sad passing of Thomas Nozkowski.  I’d been resisting the monograph on him produced last year until now (not least as I have several catalogues of his) but this week took delivery of a copy.  If you are unfamiliar with his work you’ll not know of his regular practice of making over his canvas boards through erasure and re-painting.  In John Yau’s excellent essay he quotes the artist saying: “I don’t like tinkering. Whenever I go back to a painting, I try to open up the entire surface – you know, run a wash of colour over it, or I’ll scrape it down, or I’ll rub it off with a rag – so that everything is back in play.”

Now I love his work, and (I hope) in my modest way see him as something of ‘a fellow traveller’ in several respects…but not in the matter of ‘tinkering’…it’s something I absolutely love.  Indeed it goes to the heart of my dabbling!  Paintings can, and usually do, sit around for months, and even occasionally years, in order that small additions, adjustments or obliterations may take place.  It is also the case that, rather more rarely for me, the outcome can be ‘opening up’ the entire surface as well.  But it’s the tinkering that mostly takes centre stage and the very thing I celebrate.  And so it is with these three paintings all ‘in play’ since Easter but not significantly altered – as yet – from their early states…but still likely I think to some jolly tinkering!

 

Making Colour Sing…

Sun-Door-w
A Sundoor In The Harbour, Acrylic & watercolour on paper, 124.5 x 30 cm. 2017

Make Colour Sing is the title that Laine Tomkinson has chosen for the exhibition she has curated at the Nottingham Society of Artists gallery on Castle Gate in the city. It’s an intriguing title, not least as alongside all the works in which colour features as a significant force, there are lovely etchings by Michelle Keegan that are resolutely monochrome – raising the old chestnut as to whether black is ‘properly’ a colour.  My own pieces use a raft of colour combinations that bounce about in a reckless manner.  This piece – A Sun Door In The Harbour – pretty much nails colour confusions and plays them off against one another within a loose geometric arrangement.  The show features Laine’s work, a delightful and playful exploration of form and gesture in her chosen medium of screen printing. And much else besides; Martin Heron with a range of equally delicate and intense repeated drawn elements that coalesce into form that is almost as solid as his sculptures yet shimmer and dissolve before your eyes; John Stockton‘s collaged photographs that evidence strong graphic style; Andy Parkinson‘s obsessive preoccupation with repetitive mark making that gradually off registers  to compelling effect.  There are plenty of other marvellous things on offer.  Laine asked me to write a short introduction to the show that I’m reposting below:

A gutsy, powerful and emotional vocal performance is a stirring thing…be it Beyoncé’s Check On It or Handel’s Oratorio and so it is with colour in art, whether it’s loud vibrant hues played off against one another or quiet sensitive interactions modulated by tone and texture.  Either way for many artists – and especially those gathered together by Laine Tomkinson here – Make Colour Sing, her chosen title, seems so appropriate.

Laine has ranged both close to home and across the nations of these isles to source artists for whom colour interactions are either the main spring of their interests or at the very least a vital component of the mix that makes up the work.  Not surprisingly, given her own intuitive, sensitive process for making paintings and prints, several of those she has assembled allow chance to play a significant role in the creation of work.  Insofar as colour is concerned this opens up possibilities that the artist might not have envisaged for herself and truly reveals fresh opportunities for the colours to sing out – in both close harmonies and also, occasionally, dissonances that act as counterpoint and contrast.  

Of course for some of those invited the procedures are much stricter. It may, in musical terms, be much more a closer reading of the score, indeed a literal translation of it where nothing is left to chance, each colour combination the result of finely considered adjustments, every action pondered at length. 

Either way, and acknowledging that for some it might be a case of both approaches deployed together, colour remains an elusive, slippery customer.  Over several centuries now distinguished figures from Goethe to Albers have tried to pin it down, codify and tame it only for it to spring back as vibrant and unruly as ever.  It has many voices and plenty of diverse ditties, from every avenue of the creative impulse, and quite a few have been assembled here too.