I’m a passed master at swapping horses in mid-stream…after all I’ve got three smallish canvases completed since Xmas with another seven, one a fair bit bigger (a metre square), underway. All of these are probably, even with my piddling about, quite near to completion so – just the moment to turn away from them and reconnect with something quite different! But that’s my M. O. as anyone following this blog will know. So back to the Landscape & Memory project and getting into the final stage – the Rock series. Here’s the second of the eighteen that will make up this group – Contemplation By St. Francis. Click on the relevant tag for some kind of explanation about this malarkey.
Because the year is still (just) under a sixth old I’m fairly relaxed about the progress of the various bodies of work underway. Besides several are nearing completion to my satisfaction (and who else is there to consider!). These two, roughly the same size, around 40 x 60 cm., are amongst them. It offers an opportunity to compare and contrast. There are obvious differences in origins and in materials and methods. As for the latter the picture above is on board prepped with hard sandable gesso (Golden) and using a fair bit of various mediums added to the thin washes of pigments. For the one below 12 oz. cotton duck has a lightly thinned plain gesso with a goodly variety of acrylics, including heavy body applied. Mind this one also has a substantial number of thinned washes involved. In terms of content and form the first is part of the on-going Very Like Jazz series where a certain looseness of approach and call and response is the primary process drawing upon fifties modernist art and design tropes; whilst the second is rooted in observations and intimations of my experiences on our recent Cornish adventures. Is there anything else to be extracted from their quite separate personalities other than to underline my inability to stick to one plot line? I’m not at all sure!
As we start to whoosh through 2019 (I can’t quite believe we’re in February already) I realise that my way of making work makes for an uncomfortable feeling of dread…
The endless prevarications could see me shuffling off this mortal coil without completing some of my many projects unless I get my digit extracted! For a while, 2 or 3 years back, I instigated a schedule for the year ahead to be sure of getting through work with some discipline, and it worked to a degree though inevitably crumbling a bit at the back end of each year.
And then the unexpected comes up to further disrupt things. Of course one can (and occasionally does) turn them aside. But some are just too intriguing to disregard. So it was with Enough is Definitely Enough another fascinating and compelling project from Andrew Bracey.
I’ll let him explain:
Over 40 contemporary artists have made new artworks in response to a postcard version of Velázquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas for an exhibition at General Practice in Lincoln. ‘Enough is Definitely Enough’ which opens on 30 March and runs to 13 April, features a huge variety of different artistic responses to the Spanish painter’s masterpiece – arguably the most widely interpreted of all paintings.
Art Historian Daniel Arasse reflected many people’s view that everything, or perhaps even nothing, has been said about Las Meninas -“what’s the difference, enough is definitely enough!”. The artists in the exhibition build upon previous interpretations by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Richard Hamilton, Francesco Goya and Eve Sussman. Artists have long been actively influenced by the centuries old painting by Velázquez; with their responses, in turn, offering influence back to Las Meninas to enable new readings. With the artworks made for ‘Enough is Definitely Enough’ there is potential for new relationships with Velasquez’s original painting to open up.
The exhibition is curated by Andrew Bracey and forms part of his PhD research at the University of Lincoln. He is exploring how contemporary artists have used and appropriated existing paintings by other artists, through a position of using the metaphor of the parasite and symbiosis in connection with painting.
Whether or not my contribution is parasitical, symbiotic or just plain daft you’ll have to pop along to Lincoln to judge…
And it isn’t just requests for contributions to projects that pop up. As part of the Priseman-Seabrook Collection initiative another show of selected works including my own opens in the Polish city of Gdansk in mid March with the title of Made In Britain. It seemed too good a opportunity not to visit for the opening, not least as Poland is a country I’ve never visited. So its off to one of the seminal sites in the resistance to communist rule in Eastern Europe.
Nobody much writes about the long slow slog that most painters experience. I know some – Sidney Nolan was one such – can work at a lick to completion. I’m not one. I wrote before the festive season about completing pieces ahead of the break. And naturally enough failed with several I had hoped would now be behind me. Picking up the plot at this distance (an extra two week gap whilst we were in Cornwall) is a bit of a slog.
This has been both studio and living space for the past fortnight. It’s good light, a decent workable wall and a reasonably generous desk. In most respects it works well. There is a sizeable drawback…what the comfy chairs don’t reveal is the view, through the open doorway, and from the window in front of the desk. It looks like this sometimes,
and like this at others…
and has many more moods to show you. Yes I have made some paintings, none fully resolved, but my often glacial progress would be even more dilatory if I ‘worked’ here often. Sadly tomorrow I’m off home to my normal environs!
So it begins…2019 that is and, courtesy of our extended stay here on Cape Cornwall, it will be over before I get going at the pace it’s setting so far. How does time speed up as one ages? Not that I’ve been idle – posting is a bit of a lottery however dependent on a hazy purchased wifi ‘hotspot’ – as these studio images can testify.
And if it all seems a bit glacial that maybe because quite a lot of time is spent keeping our eyes peeled on the Atlantic to catch glimpses of the pod of dolphins that seem to be about these parts of late…and I’m sorry that my mobile isn’t up to giving you the view we’ve seen!
Nothing concentrates my mind like the impending end of the year. I know its foolish of me but the wholly artificial milestone of the 31st December tipping into January 1st has me frantically endeavouring to tidy up production of work. Given my equally absurd penchant for multiple objectives for my work in the form of various ‘series’ or ‘projects’ this is, as one might imagine, something of a tyranny. So I have three more of the Coastal Banners to complete – will they get resolved? I’m revisiting a host of the Playground Of The Midlands canvases to see if I can put more of them properly to bed. A number of Very Like Jazz follow ups are assuming a more prominent place in the pantheon of T2R2 (those that require resolution) not least because Better Git It In Your Soul is, courtesy of the energetic and exceptionally talented and generous Robert Priseman (who has done so much for Contemporary British Painting) is on tour again in 2019. So I’m thinking this strand of my work that has been quietly bubbling under for the past year needs more of an outing.
And of course I’m heavily into part three of the Landscape & Memory project – Rock – that I’d dearly like to have fully completed by the time the clock ticks over again into 2020 but at my rate of prevarication means quite a lot of cogitation as well as more painting (though mercifully all of them are in play now). Of course I have all those small things that bump along more or less all the time. The Wonky Geo series, now heading north of 60 in total, a set of little abstract landscapy things as yet untitled (and unseen) and two more tiny boxes full of half baked and half realised workouts…oh…and the glacial progress of the i series as above. And just to top it off there’s a host of Paintings Standing Up, experiments in three dimensions, that I cannot for the life of me decide are worthwhile pursuing or not. Yep nothing fogs the mind like the impending Year End!