Archive for March 2011
In my (some of the time) workplace, there is ‘real art’ on some of the walls, mostly limited edition prints by renowned UK artists. There is a huge screen-print by Albert Irvin (not in the link, but you get what they’re like) and I feel sure I am the only one who ever looks at it.
These smaller prints by Terry Frost get largely ignored,
and I even heard of one being taken down to make room for an ugly whiteboard. It was a respected colleague of mine that put up the whiteboard and he was sure that it was an improvement on the Terry Frost. It took some explaining that Frost was one of our respected modernist giants.
Then again, maybe it is possible that the art is appreciated and I just don’t notice it. I would love to do some research and interview workers at random to find out what they think of the art. And even that might not tell me much. Is it at least possible that it ‘goes in’ unconsciously?
If you don’t live in the capital and you want to go and look at some abstract paintings, it’s very difficult to do. And standing in front of a painting and viewing it is quite a different experience than seeing a reproduction in a book or looking at art online, a good second-best though these can be.
I think I like the paintings of Tomory Dodge. I say “I think I like them” because I have never actually seen any, only reproductions on the net and in books. The installation photos from the exhibition at CRG gallery are a wonderful second-best to actually being there.
I want to go and see them. I want to go and view some abstract paintings. I guess I may have to make do with seeing reproductions online, or better still, going and making the paintings that I want to view.
In the beautiful book Painting Abstraction:New Elements in Abstract Painting, Bob Nickas suggests that “all abstraction can be referred to as found“.
the beautiful book looking like it was found on my lawn
The other night I woke from a dream where I was recalling a series of little painted sketches I had made when I was an art student, over 30 years ago. I had stored them away in my loft, and forgotten them. They were lost. Here’s one of them that I remembered in my dream.
The next day I went looking for them, and found them.
Abstract painting is non representational, isn’t it? I remember when I first started to make abstract paintings, over 30 years ago that it seemed all about struggling not to represent. It was like the well known exercise where you sit next to someone and attempt not to communicate. Gregory Bateson used it to show that ‘you cannot not communicate’. There I was attempting not to represent, and everything I put down seemed to represent something. A vertical was a figure and a horizontal was a landscape and so many things looked like symbols, especially phallic ones. Here is a ‘non-representational’ figures in a landscape from back then:
Flatness was what I aspired to, before I found out about ‘optical space’. But look how difficult it is for the dark grey shape at the bottom left not to take on the appearance of a shadow and for the blue shape not to be in the background nor to be sky or water.
And now, looking back there was autobiographical content that I was unaware of. I had no money, so to get anything on a big scale meant either painting over existing work or sticking smaller stretchers together. Also, each painting (they became monochrome canvases) looked almost the same as the last, in a series, so that what I became interested in then was the subtle differences between virtually identical paintings. And of course this had nothing at all to do with the fact that I am myself an identical twin. All of this was unrepresented, wasn’t it?