Christmas Comes Early…

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I’ve said before that I often find lyric music difficult whilst painting…but I just took delivery of the latest Keith Christmas album…so it had to be first up today.  Go to his website and buy a copy!  

In any event I’m now onto finishing the final touches to Petrarch Reads Augustine the last of the Rock Of Ages so its that light headed feeling that sees some optimism in the gloom that I find when I look at what is going on outside my studio!  And to a certain extent that pervades Keith’s latest album too.  With a bunch of tracks celebrating life and relationships and a lighter hand on the tiller of anger and outrage that characterised a deal of the (nonetheless) excellent songs on his last album (Crazy Dancing Days -why not purchase that one too whilst you’re at it).   I’m also having a bit of fun with another of my TFTLR pieces… that lighten up the mood too…

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Thirty days on…

The Mount Of Sands
The Mount Of Sands

from my last post…goodness knows why really.  It does get harder to have much to say other than that ‘events’ sometimes get in the way of the activity of both making and commentating on work.  And does that matter much?  As I get older I’m realising that productivity isn’t the only criterion – though its one I do put some store in.  Hence my desire to see the completion of the Rock Of Ages, the third and final part of the Landscape & Memory trilogy.  So here is the last but two of the eighteen that make up this group.

Domesticity…

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Visiting friends is lovely but visiting friends who’ve bought work is even nicer!  And work takes on another life when seen in a different environment from either studio or gallery.  Especially when it’s a piece on paper exquisitely framed. So it is with Pan Tadeusz here in my pals, Moira & Allan, living room in Dorset.  Pan is one of the Waldgeschichten, the Forest Stories, part one of the three parts that make up Landscape & Memory.  This project is now finally coming to its conclusion, the fourteenth of the eighteen works making up third part Rock of Ages just now resolved to my satisfaction, and joining the other fifty with only four to go.  Given that the early stages of the whole scheme started back in 2014, it’s only been five years in gestation.  That might seem an inordinate amount of time but given my dithering and distraction I reckon half a decade ain’t too bad!

Stephens Climbing Account
Stephen’s Climbing Account, 106 x 93.6 cm., mixed media on paper,July 2019

 

Finding a Black Box…

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No. 1

When a plane goes down, mercifully rarely, the first thing that happens is a search for the Black Box.  Hopefully it tells investigators what happened, and how.  So this group of little sketches, doodles, scribbles, or whatever is part of the record of the larger, more carefully considered and constructed works. The Black Box sits somewhere between the Wonky Geometry series and three even smaller boxes of even more provisional pieces.

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No. 2

I enjoy these a lot.  First it helps avoid waste – I can’t abide waste – by using papers from projects that failed and using up paint that would otherwise be discarded (not into the watercourse though!).  Alongside that it’s an activity that can carry on alongside the reflection, the mulling over, of what to do next on the more substantive works. No time now for idle hands. And finally there’s the freedom to play around – to not be too serious.

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No. 3

As yet I’ve no idea how many will be made, as with the Wonky Geo‘s these come off a large pile of sheets cut to the size in a rotation as my fancy takes me and are numbered on what I consider completion.

Another passing…

Carroll

I only just learnt of the death of Lawrence Carroll, some two weeks after the event.  Following on from Thomas Nozkowski, whose fame in the world of art was greater I suppose, its very sad.  Carroll I first came across back in 1992 on a visit to Documenta 9.  In a single room I saw my first ‘ribbon’ Marden‘s in the flesh, ditto my first Jonathan Lasker‘s and my first sighting at all of Olav Christopher Jenssen.  It was for any painter quite a sight and I was there for a long while.

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Admiring the Carroll’s with Jenssen’s Lack Of Memory series as backdrop

Documenta 9 was quite heavily criticised at the time.  Belgian curator Jan Hoet was a bit of an outsider, very pugnacious and quite opinionated it seems.  I imagine he didn’t take prisoners.  Besides which he used the opportunity to promote fellow countrymen (and most of those he selected from wherever were men) including now well-known Luc Tuymans, Thierry De Cordier, Raoul De Keyser and Jan Fabre as well as others less so, Michel Francois, for example.  As an aside I’ve no problem with this – Hoet had an opportunity to showcase talent from Belgium on the wider stage and grasped it, putting someone like De Keyser into an arena one suspects he’d otherwise never have been recognised in.

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Lawrence Carroll

He also had a ‘thing’ for the obdurate, insistent, gestalt object.  Besides Carroll’s lumbering wall objects several other painters and sculptors could be grouped together.  Michael Biberstein‘s canvas, Helmut Dorner‘s groupings of paintings and Anish Kapoor‘s Descent Into Limbo were just some of the pieces that made up a strong showing for ‘blank’ perhaps best exemplified by the inclusion of the grey paintings of Gerhard Richter.

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My friend, the sculptor Paul Mason, admiring a Richter…

But the Carroll’s have lived with me for many years now and although I have moved far from the idea of the ‘gestalt’ in my work I recall them fondly.  His obituary by David Carrier tells of his life in Italy and also of his continuing career, mostly across Europe, rather than here or in the States. Sad to see him gone.

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me explaining Kapoor to bemused German’s!

 

 

 

Housekeeping & ‘completions’

PrimeRealEstate
Conversation: Prime Real Estate, Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 61.5 cm., 2014

Do you have as untidy a studio as mine?  I only ask because I’ve been trying for quite a while now (the very decent Climate Change weather helped…the studio can be perishing in mid-winter) to do some housekeeping.  Tucked away in back a bunch of smaller canvases that, for whatever reason, never got fully resolved.  Including these two from back in the day…well five years or so ago.  Around the time I was working on a bunch of big canvases (well biggish nowadays) that showed at the Carnival Of Monsters in Beeston, Nottingham in 2014.  These had started out as the continuation of the Conversation Pieces that in turn began back in the late noughties but altered tack during the painting process erasing the more biomorphic forms with a renewed interest in formalism (albeit of a cranky kind).  I say biggish because at 7 by 5 foot they would have been considered fairly tiddly back in the days I was a student at Birmingham where the legacy of John Walker was writ large – literally so!

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Carnival Of Monsters installation, Beeston, 2014

But alongside the bigger pieces I made these smaller panels, indeed I made several even smaller still.  Getting them out suggested they might have made the cut…excepting that they needed a small adjustment here and there which is exactly what they’ve just been given.  Are these new completed works to be dated 2014/19 or is that as pretentious as I’ve always thought it to be when seen about the place..?

CircusBoy
Conversation: You Seen Circus Boy?, Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 61.5 cm., 2014