Surprise of the week was news that Moogee had his own chapter in a new Loughborough/UAL/Teachers Columbia publication 🙂
This is the final entry in the studio diary section as I will be assessed on my M.A. this Wednesday afternoon. To prepare for this I have created the pdf below and uploaded to Scribd detailing the progress made throughout the M.A. and the final outcomes at this point.
Where I go from here is a good question and not one I can answer easily.
There are three separate yet overlapping areas I have become deeply interested in.
1. Drawing research ; phenomenology of drawing and in particular an interest in sense of place and notions of ‘signature’ in terms of preparatory drawings especially in Gorky, Miro up to Motherwell and Twombly all developing out of the surrealism and dada influence on mid-century American painting.
2. Early film/photography and magazine culture of the 18th Century/early 19th century and its relation to current developments in web. I have a paper to present in Paris on Charles Dickens magazine illustration end of March and I will be concentrating on that alone from now until then.
3. The continuation of this research into artistic research theory/philosophy of aesthetics and its dissemination through fine art pedagogy.
All three are possible PhD subject matter and how my institution views my future will probably have a major bearing on where I go.
My heart though probably in number one…..my head in number three and my teaching future at present tied up somewhere in number two whether I like it or not…….
Interesting times ahead 🙂
Meanwhile I’d like to thank Deborah Harty for her very good supervision and for stopping me going off-track all the time or as they like to say in academia develop ‘focus’. Focused I am right now but come Thursday who knows:-)
please note the backgrounds have distorted in this display.
I was in conversation with Andrei Molotiu the author of the book Abstract Comics (http://abstractcomics.blogspot.co.uk ) and he basically challenged me to go beyond the film derived sequential drawings of earlier in the year and attempt a full abstract comic approach which I duly did yesterday. The result below.
This is based on two symbols that were constant companions in my first period of intensive abstract drawing from 1981-1989. The two objects are based on a barn door and a sheave of barley both distant childhood memory derivations. At this time I was working off an abstract expressionist base where Arshile Gorky and Miro were very important in terms of memory symbols. Here I have used the two objects to tell an abstract sequential story which has abstract speech bubbles. I jokingly called it my autobiography hence the grave symbol at end. The story is subconscious there no direct narrative. I drew the structure of the comic based on memories of similar page structures in comics.
The interesting thing is that it seems to relate directly back to a ‘graphic novel’ I attempted in 1992 (below the front cover). I will try and get rest of sequence scanned which although cartoon based is more conventional cartoon figuration rather than abstract and contains quite a lot of text. For this I thank Simon Lewty ( http://www.artfirst.co.uk/simon_lewty ) who has been a constant source of inspiration in his blend of the narrative, abstract and annotated.
Andrew has asked me for a better quality photo of the work for his blog (see above) so I will update the picture above with a high quality image tomorrow.
I also just realised that it structurally hints at the kind of emblematic work Alasdair Gray parodied in his ‘Leviathan’ drawing for the front cover of his book Lanark. My memory was obviously remembering the front cover of Richard Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’.
The second image from the Hockney Rake’s Progress parody rebranded as art research.
Already the visual story becoming complex if going to map the version of Hogarth into a research tale! In this image ‘The Inheritance’ the art object ( I calling him/her ‘Muttly’ after R.Mutt signature on the Duchamp urinal) is receiving the inheritance of art research categorisation and theory from Sir Christopher Frayling. Thus ‘in, for and by’ and a litter of papers and books….meanwhile Bruce Archer’s paper is overshadowed and the ‘New Knowledge’ monolith floats over a wobbly map of the UK academic scene:-) Next image is called ‘Meeting the good people’ and will involve three statues and three philosophers.
The original sequence of 8 Hogarth pictures here: http://www.soane.org/collections_legacy/the_soane_hogarths/rakes_progress/
Well tomorrow 1st October so 22 days to go until DRN New York and finally embarked on the Art Object in search of new knowledge sequence!
I carefully re-read proposal (read it here http://www.scribd.com/doc/159584262/Drn-Proposal-2013 ) and fortunately I was quite careful about what I had promised. This means that I can just about fulfill promise to create a cartoon sequence but the full paper will have to be completed later (hopefully by M.A. completion date of January 24th). As for the animation I was really setting a high bar there and I think it may well develop separately to the DRN conference.
I have completed the sequence of 16 illustrations of contributors chapters to Elkins book and hope to complete the Elkins chapters after New York from the animation tests. To be honest I only likely to show a few sequences if that at end of presentation.
The project has however come together in my mind. the original ‘Rakes Progress’ by Hockney is a sequence of 16 images about his first trip to New York which dovetails with my first visit too. There however the comparison stops as my sequence whilst using the visual parody of Hockney’s suite of etchings will focus on current art research terminology specifically the idea of ‘New Knowledge’. Here I crossover with Elkins chapter on ‘Beyond research and new knowledge’ in Artist with Phds. To that extent this very much a continuation of investigation begun in previous conference with Frayling paper.
The drawings will mimic the number of Hockney etchings (16 in all) and end up in an art research ‘Bedlam’ 🙂
Here a photo from the studio whilst working on first drawing.
Only 15 to go! Also instead of drawing sequence after writing paper this time I experimenting with drawing first and literally ‘drawing out’ ideas for paper one for practical reasons and two as an experiment which may go dreadfully wrong. It interesting to see how drawing first affects decisions on what to include and structure of final paper. I will give an overview of ideas in presentation as at 20 minutes that roughly one image a minute.
To see original Hockney sequence see here http://www.hockneypictures.com/graphics_rakes_progress/graphics_rakes_01.php
Studio library and most recent reading related to drawing practice.
A very hot day and studio a little cooler than expected which good. Still managed to create three drawings despite also reading photo related items specifically about early photography ( Lady Elizabeth Eastlake’s Review from London Quarterly Review).
Had a fascinating message from an architect doing a PhD at the University of Tasmania who picked up on the recent drawings. He said they reminded him of the German ‘Burolandschaft’ workplace drawings of the Quickborner Team of 1960’s.
I did some hasty research (Googled it) and came up with drawings he referring to which were fascinating (see below). The connection is not entirely strange as I have been regarding these drawings a s cumulative ‘memory’ maps of my hometown/landscape. I am coming at it from a fine art viewpoint which more influenced by artists like Simon Lewty (http://www.artfirst.co.uk/simon_lewty/) and Aboriginal Bark Painting (signifiers of place) as much as maps and graphic diagrams. The idea of linking this further to architectural diagrams/theory fascinating. I shall be delving deeper. Especially as the drawings above show Caruso St John plans for the new Arts Council offices…ironically 🙂
For one of the drawings I sectioned the page into ‘staves’ or ‘cartoon strips’ to try out some sequential abstract narrative notions I have. This could lead to some large painted/drawn canvases for final show.
I spent most of today in studio again for first time in six weeks as illness prevented me from being there. I went in today with the supervision meeting yesterday for M.A. in the back of my mind. Clarifying the subject of the M.A. as ‘Graphic Research’ has helped greatly. However my next decision is how far I pursue the Frayling argument between now and next September. In what form I investigate the ‘research question’ when defined (has to be submitted as a new proposal by 7th January) so something to work on over Xmas and finally how much of this can I move forward as interrogation of own practice leading to a possible PhD?
To that end I started looking through old art magazines in studio going back to 2001. I was looking for mentions of ‘academic research culture’ in an attempt to find out when this started affecting what artists produced and the way they worked. Without going into detail it did seem that by 2003 it was observable within magazines to a degree which it wasn’t earlier. There is a whole PhD in analysing this subject in relation to magazines and wider art practice ‘fashions’ but for now i simply cuttiing out references then analysing them as best iIcan with cartoons drawn over the top. This could develop into a range of artefacts or be a dead end but seems a useful way of directly looking at shifts in artist self-definitions and institutional advertising.
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?