Spent the afternoon in a not too cold studio (it has basic radiators thankfully) as starting to come out of over two weeks of severe chest infection. After looking at the neo-primitives below I thought I’d try black acrylic paint straight to canvas and compare it with other methods. Pencil and chalk, paint this was because I forgot to take some Sharpie pens to the studio. So I could theoretically call this an experimental artefact led methodology although I can only gain ‘qualitative data’. I have posted on facebook so be interesting to see what reaction I get.
I was vaguely thnking of the kind of memory painting Arshile Gorky did (most of his major works refer however subliminally back to his Armenian childhood) but after I’d finished the last piece I realised that today’s news about Hurricane Sandy and the associated imagery had leaked into my sub-conscious. I therefore named the drawing ‘Sandy’.
The smaller image in the gallery of two ‘badges’ is from 1987 and were a couple of examples of laminated drawings that I sold in aid of Greenpeace at my show that year in Hornsey Library. Proving that nothing changes and I was doing Burgerman before he was knee high 🙂
Looking closer other influences which I can see in the drawings include Leger, Mariscal, and Miro all major influences on my late eighties work so it feels like I have somehow carried on from a point then of semi-abstraction before I went more figurative and lost some of my spontaneity. I picked up a book from my library at studio called ‘Arshille Gorky: The Breakthrough Years. Which I will examine along with my present reading. I was heavily influenced by a book I subsequently lost by Harry Rand called Arshile Gorky: the implications of symbols ( I have now found it as paperback on amazon although out of print). The Gorky fascination is not so much in his application of paint but far more the way he created ‘memory symbols’ analogous to Miro. These repetitive symbols came from his childhood. I repeat similar motifs from my past almost like an alphabet and maybe analysing where this came from would be productive. In fact at one point I did try to make a pictorial alphabet of simple symbols. I will try and find the examples I drew. We then stray into both semiotic and literary territory. I will leave the deeper examination of this to the research pages.
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 studying 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.
This appears to be completely available online at:
Now here’s some art history to get my teeth into.
Quite a start…..but is it research?