Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Head Candy-Abstract Evolution

Artistically, it probably looks like I'm all over the map at the moment.

It certainly feels that way.
If the only concession to being on EBay, is my artistic evolution through a series of experimental sketches, then so be it.
Like most daubers, there is always that niggle to grasp that middle place between the figurative and the intangible. Abstraction has always struck me as a cynical compromise-a cop out toward a vague, indefinable, incohesion, that immediately separates itself as anything substantive for the viewer to grasp . Often it asks for so much latitude of depth, where often there is none. An arcane spatter for flourishing effect.

There are a few artists I can think of who to my mind bridge that chasm-De Kooning, Kitaj and of course Bacon-come immediately to the fore, and so-expanding on the Ghost piece that I really liked, today I put brush where my mouth is.
The resulting stew (or spew) is what I can only think to describe as the fossilizing of souls, a disintergration of the physical to an ossified intergration with the ether. It also looks apocalyptic, like freshly fried corpses being decimated by some nuclear wind. It was inspired by a vague memory I have of a painting I saw in a magazine in the 70's called Man, Myth and Magic, which depicted a kind of atavism. I also drew on a set of pieces I was painting fifteen years ago, called Dispositions, which were abstract ruminations on the fire weed I'd seen locally, influenced by Graham Sutherlands work.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with the way the pieces are evolving-Ebay chicanery aside-I can see a through line in the set of oils I've been working on, from Disambiguous Foresight to Ghost onwards.

Is abstraction a natural process of an artist evolution, or is just a shorthand I wonder?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Head Candy-all aboard the Express from creative endorphin highs to artistic freefall

On Friday, we wandered over to Alex Salazars new gallery downtown. With more than a nod to Jenny Saville, the huge smeared portraits of adolescent boys, weathered faces and a bloodied newborn by Justin Bower may take the lions share of attention, but its the work of Renzo that held me captivated. In a city still without any culturally artistic center, its a welcome addition here and should do very well.

And a new solo show fell in my lap this morning, on the back of my showing at Thumbprint. I shall be exhibiting from April 24th to June 5th at the San Diego Art Institute, with opening reception May 14th. I have my work cut out for me, I have at least three new pieces I want to finish before drop off, and our trip back to the UK at the end of April will be such a relief.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Head Candy-whirlygig, mindgasm, oblivion

'Amazing how grimly we hold on to our misery, the energy we burn fueling our anger. Amazing how one moment, we can be snarling like a beast, then a few moments later, forgetting what or why. Not hours of this, or days, or months, or years of this... But decades. Lifetimes completely used up, given over to the pettiest rancor and hatred. Finally, there is nothing here for death to take away'

Charles Bukowski

So, my 43rd year unravels before me.

Obviously I'm handling it all very well.
I daresay as a bastard son (as well as just being an old bastard) of that gen X thing and a grubby child of the seventies, the disappointment of the noughtie's is profound. How could it not be-caterwauling through the punk revolution of the mid to late 70's, blowing the wind through crusty old world creakiness, we bought into the lie of anticipating a future that would be beyond a Fritz Lang wet dreamtopia. Our prophets where Asimov,Arthur C Clarke and we were the Tomorrow People.
Growing old wouldn't be an option, as with Logans Run, in the future one could look forward to being collectively assembled on your 30th Birthday, and vaporised in some final whirlygig, mindgasm oblivion. But what a ride to get there, transporter beams in every apartment where you could materialise Jenny Agutter in a sparkly silk pashmina like the most delicious slice of takeout pizza-fuck chatroulette style.
Where you could get away from it all with holidays on the moon, whilst served martian cocktails by Gabrielle Drake, knocking off a few photons at extraterrestrials along the way.

And I was going to be the greatest artist of the 21st century-a critically acclaimed rockstar dauber, living like emperor Caligula, whose art would be poured over by the masses in galleries honored in my name and in the pages of 2000ad.

What a ridiculous naive and foolish child I was, sinking as I am now, on the arse end of middle age under the weight of my own disappointment.


Still, there are graces and favours-I didn't die in my 30s, not from whirlygig, mindgasm,oblivion or the more likely liver disease, which if you knew me back when, is nothing short of a miracle.
I didn't make it to the moon, but I did make it-to America, which if you knew where I started is like reaching that far.

I still have my own hair and teeth,and more importantly the love and respect of my kids and Lani,who is still amazingly by my side which makes me the luckiest shit kicker this side of Toxteth.

Heres that other prophet of my time, lamenting the end of a space age dream, in what still is for me, the greatest music video ever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Notes from an Easel-Part 82

Spent the day reworking Trinity-although the mid section has evolved to appear more extended, and is giving it an extraterrestrial look . I'm not sure how I feel about it, and may need to strip it back.

Spoke to my old man today-its his Birthday, and he seemed in better spirits than last we spoke, which is understandable since one of his friends had just passed away. He was stoked about the clipping from CityBeat I'd sent, and reminded me that when I was about ten, I had sketched something which was remarkably remeniscent of this piece. Typically of my Dad, the way he told it, made it seem like it was his idea, but it does put me in mind that I was a morbid swine, even then.
I wonder why?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Head Candy

Caught myself in the midst of a Monday melancholy funk, which seems to be my default, post exhibition.
I could well have done with walking along the ocean with a dog if I had one, and clearing my foggy head, except I elected to sit at my computer working on commissions.
So no painting today, which is as well, because the creative batteries need recharging, as well as affording me the chance to clear the five week clutter of my studio.

What I do have are some more scanned pages from my sketchbook, which have been accumulating,and include scrawls of random strangers (and Lani).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

putting the finger onThumbprint:Picture post from the Thumbprint gallery featured show with David Gough

In which a little thumbnail corner of Hillcrest was inhabited with numbers in the high digits-or so the pun should go. In truth, it was a grand turnout for what is my second featured showing this year, which made it all the more humbling since one could have felt as welcome as last nights cold curry leftovers in a copy of last years Financial Times.

As always, I have a selection of friends and followers to thank, but especially to those who usurped their Saturday night for a eyeful of art and an earful of my ramblings... you are all diamonds in my sky.

Which just leaves a collection of token photies to leave there own thumbprint.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thumbprint gallery Featured show, San Diego with David Gough

Tonight's exhibition made it into the pages of CityBeat, with a rather nice little piece to go alongside the Valley thumbnail. I'd like to think I'll make it onto the cover someday, but I never really can tell the criteria for these things.
After some fiddling yesterday, I decided the last piece shall be accompanying the other works on the wall this evening. Wet off the easel-literally-its unfinished, but I really wanted to have two new works to showcase, since its only a month since my last featured show, and for any return visitors I wanted to give them something new to make it worth their while.

Doors open around 6pm, I shall be hovering somewhere ready for grilling and bartering, so bring your rich friends and your checkbook;)

Look forward to seeing you there

Thumbprint Gallery
2637 University Avenue. #A
San Diego, CA, 92104

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Notes from an Easel-Part 81

The entire day has been given over to this piece, which means I really am in no state of mind to be objective about it. If I like it in the morning, then it'll be on the wall at Thumbprint come Saturday-if not, I'll crack the fucker over my knee.
I've painted as close to the nail as I could with this one. Given that this piece was primed innumerable times, had something else painted on it before it was abandoned, and primed again, the lack of any porous surface to cling to really hindered the wet on wet approach.

I don't fucking hate it right now, I'm just uncertain its at the stage where its finished.

I need a drink and a kip.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Notes from an Easel-Part 80

Finally, the scaled oil is coming along, which with three days before showtime is a good omen.
After working three pieces, I am barely able to keep my eyes open, so I'll post more after a good nights rest.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Notes from an easel-part 78

Save for a few highlights,the larger scale version of 'Is there Life After Death' is virtually complete. The background took so much reworking before I was happy, but I'm so pleased I persevered because it's given it exactly the subtlety I was aiming for.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my fevered daubing had come at the cost of sending spatter onto some of my older pieces. The damage wasn't irreparable, but enough to make me mindful that I need to find a better storage solution in my studio, than just mounting them against the wall.

I began the full scale of 'Disambiguous Foresight' today, which is rough and ready, but coming along nicely. The weather again has been atrocious, so it was freezing with the windows open, but the fumes from the turps and oil became so noxious that I am getting headaches and needed the ventilation.

My cat Ronin made for a great muffler.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Notes from an Easel-part 76-Trinity

Title: Trinity
Size: 11" x 14"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

As Nietzsche said "if you gaze long into the abyss, then the abyss will gaze back at you"..In the shadows of my abyss are the triumvirate of friends I lost to colliding cars and disease. The temptation then was to give the piece names like some sort of plaque, but then to do so would be to suggest a monument to heroes, and as much as they were to me, there is nothing heroic about an end snuffed out prematurely.
In the crevices of these melting angular craniums, there are echoes that there is no open armed three-tiered father figure to kiss away the rich vestiges of fleeting life with a new one. What the fuck could such an entity say to indemnify such cruelly snatched fate anyway?
For the concept is as empty and brittle as a skull. A fossil of something that was once vivid, animated and filled with potential. A wasteland where nothing will ever grow.

Almost certainly, this will be one of the scaled pieces for the shows in October.
I've been listening to Big Audio Dynamites brilliant classic E=mc2 and feeling like the angry young man of my teens again, suffused with rage for the robbery of living at the hands of power brokers and merchants behind closed doors. Which is why I shall not be revealing the next piece until tomorrow, because its informed by some of the vitriol I've been feeling lately about the 'situation' here in the US, and as such could be possibly seen as controversial.

Certainly, it will require a post all to itself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Notes from an Easel-part 75

You can't tell, but the background for this piece has given me real contention, and I've reworked it half a dozen times. God, I'm turning into one of 'those artists', who worry over a shade of white.
It just needed texture but I didn't want to compromise the sense of the image floating in a milky space. In the end, I imagined the skulls was emerging from a primeval fog, which seemed to do the trick. When doesn't emerging from primeval fog help, I ask myself?
I've been forcing myself to spend sometime with Beksinski again. I say forcing myself, because he's one hell of a yardstick to beat oneself with. Francis Bacon and Goya have the same effect on me in all honesty, and I feel like a fucking serf in their wake.

I long to be lost in the contemplation of large scale works fully-the diminutive keeping one foot in the affordable format feels like its dwindling my ambition, but the truth of it is that the large works just aren't selling right now, and I wish I could sell something-I really need to. Shit, if I sold one of those larger works a month, things would be so much less of a struggle for us.
This living from dollar to dollar is as fucking old as I am.

Despite that, I worked a piece today which I think may turn out to be one of the best things I've done when I rework it.
I'm calling it Trinity,and I'll list it on the online yard sale tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Head Candy-And into the sea goes pretty England and me

I'm growing weary of America daily-the political and cultural intransigence, the dumbing down and elevation of ordinariness, the raging passive aggression of everything-and its not that the US is unique in any of this, lord knows England is no sepia tinted Merchant Ivory ideal of afternoon tea and fancies either, it just feels at times like having your head encased in concrete.
I really had no concept of what it meant to be passive aggressive before I moved here, and I need to stop reading shit on the internet,blinkered vitriolic opinion-and I realise the irony of me stating as much, but its toxic, and does little for my misanthropy.
I hunger for our return to England shores again in April.

Heres a Blur with 'this is a low' from an album that makes me think of drinking hot tea in London cafes in the rain.