I showed you a glimpse of this painting a while back during the making of it. Here, for your perusal, is the full picture. I had forgotten to post the finished article. After the 'Hunger' show last year I put it away but I was reminded of it the other night whilst waiting on a station and looking at the Christmassy-looking red lights dotting the London skyline. They were cranes; the symbols of the ever-changing city of London, building larger office blocks and gentrifying all areas of the city, be it now or later. Anyone would be mistaken for thinking that all this building could lead to a better life for everyone with jobs and homes for all, but it doesn't really does it? In my painting below, if you look hard enough, you will find a small red question mark regarding this paradox.
Mixed Media on board
by WE (Robin Tomens/Jane Pearrett)
Here's a piece of work Robin and I made a few months ago for The Tunnel's last group show, 'Hunger'. Appearances can be deceptive, especially in the case of this photo. What looks like a real dart board hanging on wallpaper is actually one flat piece, a collage of printed images. It's about boredom with the media obsession for certain individuals. I could name the characters but I will leave it to you to identify them; that's the fun bit. Needless to say there are two who are particularly topical.
and has a small picture of the legend on the back.
I'm always reading books in-between others these days. I was reading Jean Paul Sartre's The Reprieve which I put on hold whilst I took up with Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for a forthcoming art project with the Tunnel Group. Then whilst cleaning out our front room for decorating Robin presented me with Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word,which I consumed very quickly; reading it at night and in the morning (a sign that I'm enjoying it).
It very succinctly reveals the way that modern art movements, since breaking from realism, were a series of reductions just like a good gravy, each new one breaking with a tradition in some way or another leading to Minimalism, Conceptual Art and plain Theory/Words on their own. Eventually, in the 70s, a reaction came in the form of representational work such as Photo Realism.
If you've never read it (as it first came out in 1976) and you're interested or puzzled by what was going on then I suggest you read this book. It's quite an easy read if you know your basic art history and is rather boisterous and amusing with occasional flurries of Latin thrown in the mix.
Earlier on this year I joined an art group called The Tunnel after seeing an exhibition of theirs at The Geddes Gallery, Kings Cross, called Interzone. The technique employed for that show being the cut-up technique was one of the elements that interested us in attending.
The latest show is called Hunger and was inspired by the book of the same name by Knut Hamsun which I read way back in the mid-eighties. The subject being about a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusional existence within a dark modern metropolis.
The word 'Hunger' is simply a trigger for open-ended interpretations rather than literal ones although there will no doubt be considerable social/political content on display. It's held at a new gallery in the east of London called Gallery at Republic. We will (that's me and Robin) be contributing to the works on show so if you feel like looking at some challenging art get yourself down there.
Here's the promotion for the show if you want to check it out. Artwork was done by Robin.
There are so many art galleries around the back of Oxford Street now which weren't there when I lived in Fitzrovia in the late 80s. Back then it was mainly an area for the wholesale clothing industry which it still is in part. So this is the area we went to on Saturday to catch the last day of the Lygia Clark show at the Alison Jacques Gallery in Berners Street.
Lygia was part of the Brazilian concrete art movement of the 1950s but was looking for ways to achieve greater sensuality, feeling and movement into the style within a neo-concrete splinter group.
I believe that her greatest achievement is in the sensuality of the work. Wonderful pairings of shiny white gloss industrial paint set against matte black in some of her relief works with such wonderful cracks and ageing, surprisingly working very well with such extreme modernism.
Beautiful three dimensional maquettes for interiors envisioning sliding walls and wonderful wall reliefs which form part of her development in making hinged works that could be manipulated into one's desired shape.
Construa voce Mesmo seu Espaco para Viver
(Includes Robin peeking through the window)
My shadow observing Casulo (Study)
Wall relief in Metal
Very enjoyable. I wonder what's coming up next at this gallery?
Well, it's been a long time since I've even looked at this blog. I haven't had much time recently but I have been continuing to produce work slowly but surely. The last thing I posted was a study for a planned painting and now here is the completed work.
Here's a study I've been working on. It's not quite finished and photographing it has revealed a few areas that need improving. I've got the canvas ready but shall I go for oils or acrylic paints?.. the stinky, headache-inducing, slow-drying oils or the not stinky, quick but a bit crap acrylics... decisions, decisions!
I'm just thinking (ouch, that hurt!) as I sit by the window, working on a study for a painting (a rarity as I don't use this method usually) that art is such a great thing to do when you are on the mature side.
Most people have their productive period in the arts when they are young; usually following on from a degree and then, slowly but surely, they gradually cease to work. This is often because life gets in the way in the form of having kids, getting a career and working full time. Only a few get success early and go all the way, some managing to make a living and some not but doing it anyway and struggling financially, regardless.
Some manage to pick up again many years later when the kids have flown the nest or when they retire, managing to satiate their long-wished-for desire. But I've observed that lots of these people have lost the thread after many years without practice.
I am generalising a bit and I'm not describing what happened to me. Nothing was linear with me. I didn't complete my education in art but rather did other creative studies. I didn't marry or have kids, get a house/mortgage or a career where I worked full time or a car or any of the things that can tie people in financial knots. I just gave up doing art because I was young, undisciplined and easily sidetracked; the long story of why I didn't do a degree I won't go into but when we're young we think these things are awfully important when they really are not. One should carry on regardless but I didn't. However, I always kept my hand in, creatively speaking.
I spent most of my time enjoying myself to be honest. Lots of nightlife, dancing, parties, socialising, fancy clothes, hangovers and whatnot. I did all that for a long time. It would probably have been unrealistic to continue making art during that time anyway. Now I'm not doing all that stuff I'm more anchored and therefore have a little more headspace and quietness to work. It's still challenging though since I work part-time and that's a big chunk of my day gone for five days in the week.
What I'm trying to say is that sometimes things can work out (not in the way you expected, but in their own way) and you still get the reward of inner, spiritual satisfaction rather than glamour or material success. In some ways this is better because making art to make money can be a betrayal of one's principles for reasons of expedience and is generally not good for the artist or for the arts overall. This is one of the reasons we admire the art of children. It is because they enjoy the process without any of the other pressures that adults carry around with them.
In my quest to keep working this year I've collared Robin to help me out with making digital work. Here's something we produced last weekend...pretty isn't it? We've merged two very opposite but equally pleasing elements.
Making work like this is fun, quick and satiating but less physical in execution and that is something I still enjoy...BUT one needs TIME to do it and I haven't got much of that these days.
Our membership of the Tate has run out so we're not attending as many exhibitions but it's good because it encourages us to get up off our backsides and see what else is on offer. Last weekend I felt in need of some some art. It can be addictive and I think for me it is definitely a form of escapism; like a good book. Robin did a bit of research and came up with a new show on at the Whitechapel about art and the internet: Electronic Superhighway
Getting out of the flat is so hard in the winter, don't you find? It seemed to take ages for us to get out the door. We should have allowed enough time to absorb everything and allow for breaks etc, especially as we were paying to get in but we got there late afternoon and it shuts at six... Silly Billys!
Time restriction therefore meant we had to miss out a few things as awaiting us were three rooms dedicated to the subject, running in chronological order. We went to the last room first where we could look at the older work. Robin has made a lot of work recently using old images of computers with text so he was interested to see the older works. Here's one page from his forthcoming booklet...
I also am more interested in older art and there are many reasons for that, too many to go into here. So anyway we cut to the chase and started at the end!
We dashed upstairs and played with the toys. There were screens everywhere: large groupings of screens such as in Nam June Paik's intsallation called Internet Dream from 1984 plus individual screens showing artists experimenting with computer programmes.
Following through we encountered this projected film by Stan VanDerBeek
There were a handful of geometrical paintings from the 60's and 70's in this section which captured my attention and were refreshing after looking at so many screens and putting on headphones to hear accompanying soundscapes. I suppose that even back then painting would have been seen (especially in this field) as terribly old fashioned and defunct but I found the paintings very engaging and exquisite, proving for me, that painting can always reflect what is current in its own unique way. It can juxtapose reality and fantasy and produce something that can be both compelling and beautiful. Here are a few snaps to give you an idea.
Hybrid Men Monolitisk
Acrylic on wood and paper
I was captivated by the paintings of Ulla Wiggen which reveal the beauty of electrical circuits. Her work is very fine and the representation of tiny components make the painting work, both close up and with distance. Here's some of her work. The small piece above has a lovely soft almost suede like quality to the finish. The larger work below (an image off the internet as our picture was no better) shows the overall shape and colour of the work but fails to show the exquisite detail of the tiny components within the piece. I guess if you're interested you'll have to go and see it for yourself and I think it's worth it. It is very beautiful in its own strange way.
If you like a bit of technology in the mix with your art appreciation then you'll be entertained by this themed show and there's a lot more to it than I have dealt with here. You've got until the 15 May to check it out but don't make the mistake that we did; allow yourself enough time.
And for an encore here's another beauty by Roy Ascott called Change Painting from 1968 (Five glass panes in a wooden frame).
My last post was about New Year's resolutions and part of what I discussed was not finishing work. So I've been making a concerted effort working on this piece today and now it's nearly finished. I just have to do some corrections etc and it will be done. I nearly abandoned it though. I have noticed that there is a crucial time during the making of a painting where I get caught between being bored with what I'm doing and not knowing quite where I'm going. It is at this point that there is a risk of the work be discarded. This is especially true when the flow is broken, which it often is with me. Here it is below...
Firstly, do resolutions work? I really don't know if they do for me but I guess this is just an excuse to look more closely at something I'm doing to see if I can do it any better. And yes, I think there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.
My main stumbling blocks are: getting work finished, being too critical of what I'm doing, being disorganised, making use of limited time, and the painting techniques I use. There are probably more categories but I would be here forever.
Getting work finished is a common problem. There are quite a few works that I embarked on this year that I haven't managed to complete and they just hang around irritating me. I'm too critical of what I'm doing a lot of the time...this probably comes from looking at too much high quality art and reading too much theory. One becomes too knowing; not naive enough to just go ahead when I know it's not quite right. Also, I'm restrictive in what I allow myself to put down on the surface. This has its pros and cons. I limit myself with colour, figuration, gestural mark-making and a host of other elements which many other artists use and whose work I don't admire as a result...but maybe I'm being too uptight. I could relax this a little.
I could be more organised and focused, plus I don't make best use of my limited free time. Years of tidying the flat and such empty tasks that many women get caught up in, make it difficult to focus on tasks which require being still and focused; even writing this piece requires being still for longer than I find comfortable. I have to make myself do it as it doesn't come naturally.
When I paint on paper I like gouache. Oil is used for my larger work but it is a slow drying paint and one constantly has to stop whilst the paint dries, especially when doing precise work like the piece pictured below. However, every time I stop I break the flow of interest I have in the piece.
This work is on aluminium and is an exercise in precision. I'm trying to get smooth lines, even colour and transparency in the overlaying of the colours. I'm still working on this and I think it is worth continuing but I caused my own problem by making the white disc look like a planet when I didn't really want to do that...this will have to be rectified to make it more ambiguous. I want the objects to be free of representation as much as possible, I want them to speak for themselves.
I need to keep referring to my ideas/sketch book as I often neglect working on many of the ideas I have collated in there. This would help with a more linear development of projects.
So here's what I think I can do to improve my lot as an artist:
Make a concerted effort to finish work by being more organised.
Be less restrictive but with awareness.
Mix slow and quick together. When oil is drying make digital collage or cut and paste collage, which is much quicker. Use quick drying acrylics more often even though I don't like them as much as oil.
Practice focusing for longer periods.
Utilise sketch book more effectively.
Will I do these things? I'll try and if a first I don't succeed I'll try, try again.