Friday, August 27, 2010

Sapling on a riverbank; David Sylvian; tourist pictures; getting into my stride

Sapling on a riverbank, oil on card, 7 x 9.4 cm

The creek cuts through from bridge to bridge at the back of Itacorubi, and I've found a little path, much overgrown. I went along it, passing a couple of fishermen. Its a great place to work- tranquil. I might think of myself there working as John Crome, great Norfolk painter of discreet places.

A thread connects all the artwork I've done, regardless of style or medium: the revealing of secrets. Finding and depicting obscure or hidden parts of Florianopolis is a way of revealing secrets, showing an intimate and private relationship with a hidden or un-noticed place. This is a theme that connects many artists I love- photographers such as Atget and painters such as Utrillo or Morandi.

I first became aware of my attraction to this theme through music, specifically songs by John Foxx, or David Sylvian:

Once again I'm hiding in backwaters
Running this way and that
Trying so very hard to please

(beware of hidden snares)

Rushing to bite the hand that feeds me

Running this way and that

(there are always other possibilities)

This way and that

Backwaters, David Sylvian, 1984

Given the themes of secretness, hidden-ness and exploration so animate my work, I wonder if the idea of making the London Tourist paintings, and, in Novemeber, the Italian and Maltese ones is such a good idea? Such pictures of monuments and given views are surely against my every instinct. But perhaps it is good to oppose ones known instincts from time to time.


Above are some pieces of card being prepared for paintings. I'm very happy with this small format, which suits my working speed and also keys nicely into the idea of "revealing secrets", as outlined above.

It took me a couple of years, however, of fairly steady work to get into my stride- to locate myself in the aesthetic- the first little pictures were generally underworked and to my eyes now, sloppily crafted, sometimes painted on badly primed supports.

As I have worked steadily, I've managed to develop critical axioms, and raise the general level of my work. I'd say of every five pictures (a usual week), one is an outright failure, two are mediocre, and two good. Usually in twenty there is one which I love. But I have good patches and bad: now is a good one, though I scarely dare admit that for fear of jinxing it.

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