Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artifact-Tales of an Antiquarian-Mothers Milk

Any artist who was a child between 70 and 85 will attest to having gone through their Giger period. Mine began upon seeing 'Alien' on home vhs sometime in 1980, and didn't really bare fruit until sometime in 2003. The Biodegradables-(: or biomechanics and degradation combined-geddit?) had their origins in Gigers morphic automotons, my own existential angst combined with the decaying shipyards of my Liverpool home town, and what is in retrospect an early projenitor to Steampunk.

As immediate predecessors to the mythical transience of the mermaid paintings, it was all very telling, and I really ought to have continued tapping that vein, because I could have been inhabiting the same demographic as Chris Mars by now,(yeah,right) but as is always the case, the need to make money won out.

Sadly, the series was shortlived, to the point that there were only four paintings ever produced. One of those pieces-'Mothers Milk'- tackled the same themes in a majority of my art-that of origin-in this case the notion that we are all contaminated from conception, through predisposition of our genetics and those of our surroundings.

For all their obvious derivation, of the countless pieces I produced in the early noughties, the Biodegradables still stand up for me as works I'm really proud of.

Notes from an Easel-Corrosion

Nothing incenses me more, than when I see a lesser artist dismissing another-as I've stated on innumerable occasions, and will state beyond the point of broken record status-armchair critiques are the easiest things in the world, and in the blogosphere, it is so much easier to be disparaging about something, than get up off ones arse with the intent of Bowies lyric from 'Queen Bitch' resonating-'Oh God, I could do better than that.'
So further to my rant about a certain abstract art, I placed my dribbles where my mouth is, and painted a piece that is a conscious attempt, at combining abstraction as more than an embellished flourish for contemporanious sake.

'Corrosion'. depicts the measure of time melting away, much in the same way as the disintegration and decay of the physical and cognitive. Man and machine as a simulacrum of paint, giving this piece something of a unintentional steampunk flavor, but its there nevertheless.

I would have posted a link to the auction, but its already been purchased, which is marvelous.

In other news, some potentially interesting things afoot, should they happen.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

And Another Thing-The Empty heART of the abstract confidence trick

I grow irritated daily by the number of downtown gallery's I see, paying lip service along with wall space, to bad abstract drivel. Its a masquerade, the artists who paint it are cynical beyond reprieve-and know it's bilge, as do the galleries that peddle the load of old Pollocks to begin with. It's contrived, like a bad mime act, except the patrons buy into the whole Van Gogh travesty, because they'd rather believe the smears they are coughing up mulah for, to be the work of a misunderstood genius, than what they are, which is no more tumultuously cathartically conceived than if the artist had partaken a paint enema.

There are a few practitioners out there that escape my ire- god I could wax lyrical about old school abstractionists like De Kooning, Bacon or Kitaj for hours, and more closely, I count one abstract artist as my friend precisely because he understands the process of deconstruction, and what it takes to master it.

Unfortunately,a large percentage of abstractionist's are no better than con artists, layering paint with pretension when they should use apprehension, or better still-a flame thrower. The work is neither brave, illuminating or relevant-at best a joke that leaves you feeling dumb, because you think somehow you ought to be laughing with the laugh track, when in fact it was a crappy punchline, that was delivered badly.

As someone who works
methodically for hours to approximate the visions in my minds eye, and express my inner soul like I truly was excreting paint, the mockery of a certain abstract art strikes me as no less of an insult than if these swindlers had pissed on the shoes of my children.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Notes from an Easel-Nocturnally Yours

Title: Nocturne
Oil On Board

11" x 14"

The vampire hangs like some distant horror in the psychological recesses of our imagination, so for me it was all about a beast borne of something primeval in a dank cavern,deadly and certainly female.

I wanted to produce something that was a homage to the kind of late 70's British horror you'd see on pulp novels,film posters and comics, of a kind that doesn't really exist anymore, which is a terrible shame. Time permitting I'd love to do a graphic cover mock up.

It was also painted in the same week as Frazetta's passing, so I was certainly mindful of that.

I like that depending on your preference, you can look at it from upside down, or right way up, which itself was a sort of play on the title. I've submitted it for inclusion in a special vampire themed art book, so as soon as word comes that its been accepted, I'll confirm it here.

Its certainly a diversion on the more avant garde themes I've been pursuing for gallery fare of late, but I have to keep an eye on some kind of commercial market in the hopes that commissions for illustrations are more forthcoming, at least between sales and showings.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Notes from an Easel-Epiphanys

Going through the remnants of the folio I brought back from England, I was struck yesterday with how much of a struggle my artistic pursuit has always been.
I don't mean in a technical way-at varying degrees I've improved as anyone would when they do something over an extended period of time.
Even thematically I've always steered true to the convictions of my muse.
No, the struggle has come in the face of indifference, rejection, poverty and obscurity and I don't think that I really ever gave myself the credit that I've remained so focused on the goal of my passion, and making some sort of life with art in it as a foundation. I guess I'm recognizing that no matter how much life has kicked me down, the desire to create something has been a positive that I've returned to again and again, inspite of it.

Even if at the end of it all, I am not recalled in whatever annals by virtue of even a footnote-and as I get older, the realisation of that strikes me as more than a possibility now-my art has given me more than it has taken,and perhaps that's all I could ever have hoped for.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

David Gough:Honoree artist at San Diego Art Institute 2010

For what was an all too short but sweet showing last night, it was made no less substantial by the friends and faculty who attended.
The highlight of the night, was when someone confided with me that for the duration of the exhibit, the students had been coming throughout the day to meditate quietly on my work-almost as if they were in a church.

Although there are only a few shots here from my own camera, there was an official photographer on hand throughout the night, so I should have better images to share soon. My thanks as ever to everyone who came, especially our friends Nat, Ashley and Bart (I know you are reading) and to Mary and Dan who helped organize and publicize the event. The show continues until June 5th.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Head Candy- Bat Country

In between fighting the remnants of what I am now christening, 'my post English plague', I've had a rather nice commission to distract me, whilst I determine my next piece.
It comes by way of a project with the delicious Jasmine Becket Griffith, who deserves an entry all to herself. For the moment I can tell you that its a vampire themed painting, which is entirely apt in that I've felt like one of the undead this past week.

Other than a nostalgic penchant for 70's Hammer movies, and my love of 'Let the right one in' by John Ajvide Lindqvist the current cultural obsession for vampires leaves me somewhat cold.

My friend Mark was relating an article where he'd read that its an intermittent fascination that we have, that whenever we feel vulnerable as a species, our predisposition is to romanticize death. I like that notion, but not enough to find Twilight and its progenitors to be anything more than a teen soap opera with fangs.
As I always say however-armchair criticism is the easiest job in the world, so I'm putting my brush where my mouth is regardless,and enjoying the challenge of my own interpretation.

Painting on board as opposed to canvas is frustrating however-I'm still perplexed as to why anyone would prefer it as a
surface.Even primed, the oils disperse like they are on water-its akin to painting with gouache, and I regret not painting with acrylics.Still, the first stumbling's show promise.

Talking of shows promise...tonight, is the reception at the San Diego Art Institute, between 5pm and 7pm-not entirely sure what the turnout will be like, but I saw an ad on the union tribune site, so here's hoping its healthier than I am.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Object D' Art-Frank Frazetta-R.I.P

Frank Frazetta-February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010

As a kid, there were two artists I wanted to be when I grew up. One was John Bolton, the other was Frank Frazetta.
I'll never forget the thrill of first seeing the cover of Creepy, on a newsagents shelf in Liverpool-the image of a sword wielding, frenzied warrior battling wierd bat demons, scored itself immediately to my little cerebellum,and beheld everything my adolescent imagination comprised up until that point, in one beautifully rendered image. It had nothing to do with my surroundings, and everything to do with some internally, amplified fantasy world.
Over the years, there were so many more covers to discover- savage, hellish, beasts, barbarians with axes glistening with blood,sultry buxom vixens writhing at there bootstraps-each one an iconic image, always a technicolor candy wrapper to the monographics within.
Sadly,in light of the post Star Wars blitz, Frazetta's work seemed a tad old fashioned-a relic of a bygone age, sword and sorcery shtick that carried the stigma of overgrown boys still living with there Mums and Dads.

And yet, I see his influence is everywhere, from the art of Bisley to Brom, to the Teutonic digital renderings of a World of Warcraft module, his legacy cuts a swathe through the driveling digital posturing of his imitators, because technically, he was a master.

In this era of p.c proselytizing , its hard to imagine a world where images of inflated sex kittens bent provocatively before a squirming serpent barely raised an eyebrow, let alone emblazoned the cover of a boys comicbook, but his work represented such a time of
unpretension and unselfconscious.
And whilst he has long since been embraced as a seer, in the record of a certain 'art history', respect is overdue.

Travelblog-In my Liverpool home.

When I left England a little over five years ago, I had determined that it had failed me. To my mind,it had never supported my ambitions or elevated me from my humble provincial origins, and I sensed pretty early on, the hopelessness of it ever being a foundation for me to build my life on.

Moreover, I scoffed at my hometown of Liverpool ever being a cultural epicenter for the arts, railing that it had traded for too long on the currency of four moptops who fucked off and changed the world, and having scraped that particular barrel for all its worth, could only ever again procure scum from its depths.
Never would it be anything more than a bitter catchphrase of low life's and lowly living, a Harry Enfield caricature of gobby yobs in trackies, a Boys from the Blackstuff cliche of dossers, thieves and sociopaths. Whilst the city would ever bare the psychological scars of little Jamie Bulger's death, at the hands of two of its 11 year old sons.
Returning for ten days then, was something of a revelation. Of course I could have been seeing it all through the ghastly fog of jetlag, which I tried in vain to rectify with sleeping pills at night, and the high fructose diet of triple redbulls by day, but it appears to be very much a city reinvigorated by futurist architecture and glossy American style malls, and a vigor for the new.

But if there is a life there for me, then lest we forget why I was there to begin with-the prodigal son and all that, to the bosom of my family go I. And what a wonderful, delightful in all its complexity gallery of relatives I have. We are all getting older, and I don't think I ever realised how much I missed them, how much I took them for granted, until I was with them again.
And of course, I am a doting Grandfather.

Oh little Quinn, all the wonder and glorious travails of life ahead in those little, curious blue eyes. All furrowed brow, peach complexion and sweet little grunts. He is the most beautiful and precious thing.
So much crammed in such a short time, ten hundred snapshots of English idyll, fish and chips and tea and scones.Crumbling Roman walls in Chester, ostentious guilded Pre Raphaelites in Port Sunlight, misty Mersey drizzle, Dali at the Tate.

Now I'm back,having burned the candle both ends, and endured a fourteen hour delay in Philadelphia, I am suffering a serious bout of the flu.
I slept eleven hours last night, and my head feels like its full of cement, but I am glad to be 'home'-for I feel I can call it that now.