Last Rites…

Days Like These 5, mixed media on paper, 54 x 216 cms., 2020

The year draws to a close.  2020 is getting a bit of a kicking it seems but that’s hardly fair…it never asked for the pandemic that has dominated it nor for the incompetent and dithering administration here in the UK that has made it even more damaging than it would have been otherwise (no need to worry just wash yer hands, crony track & trace/PPE fiascos, ‘eat out to spread out’ etc. etc.).  However being restricted to barracks for the most part meant (for those of us lucky to have the requisite resources on hand) work continued.  My current predominant series – the Lunar Pulls canvases and the Days Like These composite paper works are proceeding apace…and the last two completions of 2020 are here.

Honesty, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cms., 2020 The text here is taken from Penelope Shuttle’s poem of the same name that can be found in her collection, The Orchard Upstairs, 1980

In the course of digging up material for a post to come in the New Year (you lucky people) I also came across an artist that has always intrigued me – Tony (Newton Haydn) Stubbing.  He appears at the very end of my copy of Herbert Read’s book that I bought for 21 shillings in 1967 and that, dog eared, mouldy, and falling to bits, is still with me today.  The marvellous blog entry above gave me more information and pointers on this artist and alerted me to the fact that the Tate own five works…I wonder when last any were on display?

You can see that he was in good company but unlike Sandra Blow, Hartung or Baziotes is pretty much forgotten today (I’m pretty sure Kotik and Gischia are also relatively unknown here in the UK by me at least…Schumacher I’ve seen very occasionally).  The reason, I’d suggest, is much to do with his life being lived mainly outside the UK (in France/Italy and then the States).  He shares this liminality with an artist I’ve previously researched and written about – the American Charles Houghton Howard – although their work is pretty much chalk and cheese.  But both I’d suggest worth another look.  In fact were I a curator with some clout I’d put the two of them together in a show – but that kind of interesting quality painting show is rarely evidenced in today’s UK art scene, not that currently we have much of one! It will get easier though and I wish you all the best for 2021.

Overseas…

Portugese Sea, Acrylic on board, 57 x 77 cm. 2020

I thought at this time of appalling embarrassment to be British (through no fault of mine I should add) I ought to find some way of reminding myself that some of us at least remain committed Europeans. So this picture, one of my Lunar Pulls series, just completed might suffice. Named after, and drawing upon, words from the great Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa.

On another – happier – matter, I’m delighted to be part of Enough Is Definitely Enough where a large roster of artists have been marshalled by the estimable Andrew Bracey to celebrate the great Velásquez. There’s a crowdfunded to produce a catalogue – why not chip in and bag yourself a reward?

Just carrying on…

April&Silence
April And Silence, 45 x 61 cm., acrylic on canvas, 2020

Goodness – this strange time of ‘lockdown’ has seen something of a lack of productivity on the blogging front.  I very nearly let a month slip by without a post…not that there’s been any shortage of work going on.  On the contrary it’s been quite a busy time what with an absence of movement out of the studio.  And despite suggestions to the contrary I notice a marginal increase in COVID cases over this week rather being over shadowed by exhortations by the ‘powers that be’ that we all go shopping alongside a return to work. In any event I’m going nowhere until I’m personally sure the risk is significantly lessened so the painting likely to continue at a lick.  This picture draws on another poem (with its rather prescient title) by the great Tomas Transtromer.

A more optimistic kind of picture…

A few days back my daughter suggested I stop posting my virus paintings from 2014 and forego a group of ten paintings of Plague and instead focus on something a bit more optimistic…I can’t imagine why…

However anxious to please I’m putting this latest canvas, an outlier from my Lunar Pulls series, titled On The Margin after the quotation utilised in it.  Taken from a poem of the same name by David Wright.

Onthemargin
On The Margin, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 85 cm. 2020

It’s earliest iterations were less exuberant especially as regards colour but in the current circumstances a brighter palette seems a good idea.  Wright is much under rated I reckon…and the poem referenced (of which the text utilised is simply the opening stanza) is a long peroration on art and life encompassing references to the author’s profound deafness) is most excellent.  Take care of yourselves and keep washing your hands folks.

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.