Perfect and Rae

The last entry in this ‘painting’ blog was October 2012. At that point I had the fragments of a broken multimedia M.A. degree and some paintings and not a lot else. From there on things improved and I have spent the last two years on a ‘research-led’ investigation of drawing that has taken me to London and New York and a set of subsidiary concerns with sequential art and technology that have led to Amsterdam and Paris. I have ‘done’ research quite well but deep down it didn’t really affect my longer term interest in returning to painting. Ironically as I am being pitched at ‘Graphic Design’ I will have to wear the designer mask a little longer but deep down I am a painter always have been always will be.

Will Self wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian last weekend about how he felt the ‘grand design’ of the modernist novel was falling apart and I feel similar concerns for painting. Despite the thrill of seeing the Dan Perfect paintings in the show with Fiona Rae at Nottingham Castle I still feel that we are at the thin end of a wedge of modernist painting not at the start. Like the novel maybe the best is behind us and we are collecting the fragments?


Perfect’s paintings straddled the post-digital and modernist divide beautifully but a nagging doubt remained that as effortless as they were the process of mapping up from smaller digital drawings whilst echoing Christopher Wool also lost something visceral in the process. The buzz of a Bratby-like density was over-ridden by the knowledge of the perfection (sorry for pun) of the execution. They were visual feasts perfectly constructed on finest linen but maybe lacked a grittier flavour? Fiona Rae’s work left me cold a lukewarm salad of tropes I’d seen before lacking the intensity of her early work. maybe that the devil’s deal gone sour. Early fame followed by a lifetime creating perfectly packaged show-pieces.


I purchased the catalogue in support of the organiser Tristram Aver. The catalogue disappointed being too showy and too many perfectly shot close ups and little real detail. Martin Herbert I am unfamiliar with I really don’t spend much time perusing the art press. His articles were pretentious nonsense but at least we have a contemporary Brian Sewell to amuse us. I learnt more about what Herbert thought of his own reading than I did of the work a sure sign of narcissistic writing. I am sure he is quite loud at dinner parties. Silence is sometimes golden. Perfect said more without saying a word.


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