Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kim's Game - work in progress 2

Pen drawing of an aesthete.

Below: Kim's Game Oil on canvas, 59 x 65 cm - stages 4 (above) and 3 (bottom)

For previous versions see:


What has happened?
I've cleaned the background, making it more uniform. The broadly triangular shape to the bottom left above he maroon oval has been refined. It reminds me of both a salt cellar and a phallus. The pink oval on the top row has been given a brown edge, which makes it seem 3-dimensional.

I am not sure if making everything sharper was really the right way to go: the gentleness of the previous shapes was part of what was appealing about them. But it is incredibly difficult- impossible, I'd say- to "go back". Paintings become more and more focused, shapes become more and more defined; insistant as you work on them- it is unavoidable.

A picture which was meant to become suggestive becomes less is as it is elaborated. And, so it seems to me, that I am best at artwork which denies equivocation.


I am good at ink drawing because this technique has a knife-edge quality about it: there is no half-way point between failure and success. If it is good it is excellent; if not, the drawing goes directly into the bin. It isn't really possible to correct an ink drawing because you cannot erase the ink.

Oil painting of the sort above is difficult for a personality such as mine, because oil paint allows endless tampering: it can be scraped off, overpainted or wiped away, and I am unable to resist the temptation to make endless the little corrections which seem necessary but actually serve merely to reduce the force of the image.

My happiest style is akin to the quip, to an aphorism, or a rebuke. It denies regret. My paintings are like over-elaborated jokes, they are laboured: they miss the point of a quip which lies in its rapidity and surprise in a given context and not necessarily in the profundity of what is said.

Lost is concision, that much underrated quality in art. And critical here is the notion of "the gesture". There are oil painters for whom "the gesture" is an intrinsic to their vocabulary- Kokoschka springs to mind- but even so this element is less apparent in his painting than in his drawings and is more prevalant still among the draughtsmen such as Kubin, Belloc, Lear and Beerbohm who are my true companions: ironists and satirists mainly.

This sort of work is sarcastic and slight: it has wit, but sometimes lacks substance and one can become trapped in irony and that is why I shall continue to try to make oil painting work for me.

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