Sunday, June 20, 2010


I've temporarily titled the painting My DNA. I thought it would be interesting to record its various states because the end result may be quite different to the beginning and it's a way to preserve the process. 

Everything in the picture is an edited version of things I see around me, including parts of other artworks. Building the composition from these fragments is selectively random: if a shape catches my eye, I'll put it in but not necessarily in the same place. In this process the painting is acquiring an order that looks nothing like my cluttered studio but that you could still recognise if you walked in there.

Central to the design are the figures of my parents, five times removed from reality: I am painting them from an unfinished painting which was based on an old snapshot and they were, of course, more real than that photograph and now they are gone, though their known and unknown history is still alive in me, consciously and unconsciously, as I sit in messy upstairs studio creating an illusion of orderly space with material paints on material canvas. 

In making art what has always intrigued and frustrated me is the conflict between working from life and working from imagination (which is also the conflict between abstraction and representation). I love painting from life, it's incomparably thrilling, but there always comes a point when I feel dominated, subjugated by the real and want it to get out of my way. Then down and down, round and round I go to that old black magic of inner images and concepts and that's exciting too but, oh, there comes a time when I long for the fresh air of face to face contact with the light, the shade, the shape, the space of the three dimensional so-called real world. 

As you can see in state 2, I've introduced a still-life of my palette in the foreground and will paint this as realistically as possible. But it leads into planes and perspectives which do not exist in reality and which arise spontaneously out of of some kind of inner logic. So, while I can't claim to be resolving the conflict, at least it's an attempt to do so. Only black and white thus far but colour is coming.


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