09 April 2022

Oil Paintings part 3/3 2021 #returntoconsciousness

Continuing from the previous two oil painting posts for 2021, this post features the latest two paintings both approximately 1.7 x 2 metre. Early stages of both are featured in the photos of post 2 where the flat areas of colour are applied to activate the surface. As can be seen below, the new method of painting with multiple mediums enables overlay whilst retaining the vibrancy of the colour, something with paint alone would lead to sinking and heaviness. I also want, despite the element of impasto and surface texture, complete freshness to the work, as if the painting has just been made. This characteristic runs through all stylistic periods of my work. As I am painting on the floor, all sides are worked from and the final upright position of the completed work is not decided on until later stages. This can be seen in the image below; part of the process is to look at the work in progress for protracted time, whilst other things are going on so in part unconscious seeing, locating future actions.

Both paintings seen from the balcony of the studio in situ during painting

Side light from the four very high south facing studio windows have led to the consideration of light across the surface. Surface of Colour was a previous exhibition project and my exhibition at Sauerbier House, South Australia was called Colour, Surface, Light.

Oil paintings require six months to fully cure (or even longer). With the types of mediums and the way they affect the paint plus the fluidity of the application means that this time of rest can be decisive in whether a painting could be exhibit able as the surface changes in the process. This part of painting is a case in point where the drip element bubbled and I thought this would not dry/cure well. At the time of writing, the surface is promising. Therefore, titling the work and documenting (website) is only completed several months after making to ensure the work is viable for presentation. 

Reflective statement on #returntoconsciousness

Recent work over the past 18 months has been studio based and reflective of the international placements of the preceding 24 months. Taking as a point of reference, Jean Dubuffet’s notion of non-place (1), my practice has evolved through a parallel questioning of objectivity with a methodology using multiple 2D media exploring memory and experience of place. With diffused imagery there is an interrogation of reality, with dense clustering of line, shape and colour, intersecting graffiti like gestures and marks. Rhythm and repetition, spontaneity and design are all features of current drawings and paintings, an exploration of alternative reality. 

On gesture (from previous blog post Oil Paintings part 1)


The kind of gesture I am concerned with is fluid spontaneous and fleeting. The movement is instinctive and unconscious; whilst making ones thinking is deliberately abstracted so that intention is absent and response is unguided in a cerebral way. The state is somewhere else. Getting to this point or place takes a little time and concentration, not just within a day but over the time of making, a week or two. It is definitely the studio thing; concentration to the point of transcendence, if that does not sound too pompous! But, to focus on the specific. What of gesture? It is a recording of the mind in motion. Certainly more to do with movement, process and journey rather than end point or product. It is possibly something akin to Zuihitsu, the Japanese method of writing that translates loosely as 'following the brush'.  Another correlation with Zuihitsu is the element of fragmentation. Areas of colour are brought together as if by accident, parts are relating through juxtaposition rather than by design. As ever, the image is made only by a process that has no defined outcome. The element of gesture applies to many artists, Saura and de Kooning for example. However, with Saura and de Kooning there is a figurative cohesion; the gesture is part of the construction of a subject (a figure).  My stance however is that the mark itself is the both the subject and the image. 

(1) Barbican Art Gallery. Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty current main exhibition May 2021


During the year A4 Luxelakes Art Museum, Chengdu requested a short video reflecting on the time since 60 Days of Lockdown (see previous post), what has changed and happened in the time since the pandemic. The video was to be shown during a video festival at the museum. 

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