Pre M.A.: Practice based research?

Ok so here I am back in the studio at the beginning of the second year of my M.A. by registered project and after a summer of drawing related ‘research’ I am standing in front of a very old work on paper (c.1988) and two new canvases done over the summer in the time not spent researching Frayling’s Categories (which wasn’t much). So what do the canvases have to do with research if anything?

I am struggling already to codify or analyse the works from any kind of methodological perspective. The ideas ’embedded’ in the paintings are intuitive, visceral (acrylic paint applied to canvas) and come from a half-formed naive idea of ‘comic’ forms from looking at various comic and graphic novels and studing Philip Guston’s work in some depth especially his drawings. I did read the book ‘Night Studio’ by Musa Meyer which I remember was quite a harrowing account of how his depressions and rages affected his family ( Musa is his daughter). It did however convince in describing the sheer effort that went into his work.

I suppose if I mined back into other works on him I would find material relating to his genesis of the comic forms that replaced his earlier ‘abstract expressionist’ period. I also own the book ‘Sweeper up after artists’ by Irving Sandler which I was half way through and which is very telling in its depiction of the fraught nature of post Abstract Expressionist careerism in New York in the early 1960’s. But is this research…it is art historical research for sure but unless it impacts on my physical creation of an object could it be said to describe anything but ‘contextual knowledge’. To impact on the creation of an art object surely it has to be more profound than that?

I am just asking questions here as at the start of a difficult journey. Turning ‘intuitions,  feelings and observations’ into theoretical research is a hard task. I am not convinced as I start this ‘Studio Diary’ that it at all possible but I may learn something else in the process.

I am standing looking at the works. Day One. I photograph them so as to show the similarity in pieces created nearly twenty years apart and in very different locations and circumstances. Maybe that affects how I create images. Maybe the context is more important than I thought.

I am also awed by the quotation from Dickens that I discover Guston had on his wall, which he held to, about complete devotion to the cause. I have never liked ‘sunday painting’ but never had the means to devote my life to painting and this the reason I have stopped painting for long periods. I found an interesting article online by chance detailing Guston in the studio by Dore Ashton.

http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft4x0nb2f0;chunk.id=d0e2683;doc.view=print

This appears to be completely available online at:

http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft4x0nb2f0&brand=ucpress

Now here’s some art history to get my teeth into.

Quite a start…..but is it research?

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