This is the ‘loosest’ image derivation to date…I doubt anyone would ever recognise the source image (even those with an intimate knowledge of viruses) but does that matter? Not a jot I suppose.
When Luke Tarpey asked me to step into an up-coming slot in his programme (at the Tarpey Gallery) a couple weeks back I was hesitant – after all I was proceeding towards the next show of recent work (at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre Angear Gallery in November) at a leisurely and orderly pace. However as an artist of what might euphemistically be called advancing years I have learnt never to look a gift horse in the mouth and take whatever opportunities come along. So now I have just three weeks dead to put together a show (albeit of modest size) before we disappear to Italy for a summer holiday during which the exhibition will open (though we will be back for a PV on Saturday 27th July at 6pm to which of course all readers of this blog are cordially invited!).
But if I’m honest I rather like the looming deadline…the countdown to it has a wonderfully enervating impact on your decision making and resolution of pictures. Things you’ve been mulling over and not getting round to doing suddenly have to be sorted…or else. And other pictures that you just cannot see a way to resolve either get shoved to one side or radically butchered. All in all very bracing even if a little bit scary.
A very productive day in the studio despite the weather doing its best impression of a dark winter’s day in mid-June (the mild temperature gave the game away though). The way the really fluid acrylic sits on the surface of the aluminium when laid out on the table reminded me occasionally of the work I was making back in 1980. Then I used very large sheets of heavy cartridge that were soaked in lashings of copolymer emulsion glazing to build up dense dark surfaces and threw them around rather casually to gain loose shaped effects. When I’d had enough I backed the whole thing with glass fibre sheeting to keep them (reasonably) solid. 8:80 was one of the biggest at around 6 x 4 ft.
Strangely enough just a few minutes back I read a piece on the American artist Susan Roth (someone not previously known to me) in Abstract Critical who was doing something similar though with a lot more colour in play and on canvas rather than paper. Back in art school I’d used the loose canvas idea (inspired by seeing Richard Tuttle at the ICA in When Attitudes Become Form) but pushing oil paint into the surface and scraping it off to create a kind of oil cloth.
Debating whether or not to have some of the watercolours framed for the rapidly upcoming (and until a few days back) unplanned next exhibition at the Tarpey Gallery…but I haven’t a great deal of time to do so if the framer is to have time to do them ahead of our departure on holiday three weeks before the show opens!
Though I have at least three projects already in mind for when I’ve finished the current Deadly Delicious series I’m now giving some thought to figuration again. This seems to be a decade long itch (or thereabouts). Something similar happened back in 2004 and before that in 1994 (though that mainly resulted in incorporating some photographic images into the assemblage paintings at that time) and also back in 1984 when it grew into a peculiar and frankly bizarre two or three year interlude that culminated in making paintings about cricket! At that point I stepped back and metaphorically hit the figurative ball for a big six right out of the ground…
This time I’m imagining making some paintings that reflect my interest in looking at ‘old art’…something I do a lot more of nowadays, in part as a result of my trips out with my pal Simon. Hence the little fella with the cow? about to fall on his head (top of column). Regular and eagle eyed readers may be able to figure out where he was plundered from… I’m also intending to keep the formal and stylistic manners from the current work and of course the debate might continue…the current series after all are images of something that exists and we can ‘see’ (courtesy of electron microscopy) and the guy here is pretty much ‘abstracted’ already and I haven’t yet begun painting him… So maybe the gap between the two will be quite small.
The news of the new Novel Corona virus…a nasty critter that – so far at least – seems very contained, was featured on BBC Two’s flagship news programme, Newsnight yesterday evening (around the 36 minute mark). And if you didn’t know better you might think they had drafted in one or two of my Deadly Delicious series to fill out the background to the item… So alongside our upcoming ‘Europe’ show the topicality continues…it’s just a pity I won’t be exhibiting the series until November.
If he hadn’t become persona non grata I’d be tempted to quote Rolf…”Can you see what it is yet”…another nasty virus. Though mercifully one that there are at least drugs to keep under control, if you happen to live in the rich west rather than Africa. Not absolutely sure this one is finished yet but it’s not far off…hopefully like the disease itself.
The third completed work in the new aluminium Deadly Delicious pictures. This one is much looser than the earlier works on canvas and paradoxically has a great deal more facture than the canvases despite the flatness of the support. In part this is down to the processes deployed and the choice of material. It has got me to thinking that the materiality and ‘objectness’ of painting is an increasing delight in a world where technology is steadily reducing the consumption of images onto the glassy surface of the tablet… I guess that’s why we do it…
At last one of the sixteen panels is ready to be wrapped and stored ahead of the display that will take place in November. A couple more are probably finished and pretty much all of them are in play. I’m still debating how many will be required to fill the wall I’m envisaging them on, I suspect another eight or so… Luckily there is still a fair few months ahead of me though it is amazing (to me at least) how fast the time goes.