Land Sale Exhibition opens!
Private view was a great success. Now to auction off parts of Britain!
Fantastic video today called “Nine Elms” by London by Kara Chin
Arrived back from the Lisbon Art Weekend where ‘Obliterated’ screened in Barreiro. Whilst there, we did a tour of the Galleries and my highlights were :
Office for Neanderthal Tourism & Crucifixion by NATHANIEL MELLORS
Amanzi angena endlini by Buhlebezwe Siwani at the MADRAGOA Gallery
It’s hard to smile through it all
How do you paint a forgotten landscape?
I’ve been thinking about the land under the sea between Britain and the continent, as I assume many Europeans and British are considering.
How do you paint a place that doesn’t exist anymore? How can you capture that strange feeling of detachment between cultural identities when the land split?
When you think about the Berlin Wall, you recall how families were divided and when they came back together again. There was a distinct cultural division but no one considered themselves outside the larger group – they were not unGerman.
The channel became an extreme division of identity.
The feeling of being misunderstood, (and conversely a lack of empathy).
The division of identity is made more difficult to repair, by the inability to bridge that body of water.
Little Pocket book of Posers
Pocket book of posers is a Zine compiled to help artists pose successfully for publicity shots. It examines many successful artists and their poses.
This handy guide can deliver powerful marketing results. Maybe more powerful than you can handle.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to buy this hugely successful guide. Huge.
Don’t run into the rice fields naked.
Typhoon season is upon us and the air is hot and electric, pregnant with the impending wet doom. It would almost make sense to run into the rice fields naked, thus justifying the unique clause in our residency contract. Almost – if it weren’t for the millions of creepy crawlies that suddenly sprout out late summer at the seaside, farming town in Itoshima, Japan.
I’m attending an artist residency, run by the quiet spoken Hirofumi Matzusaki. The main gallery is his family’s converted rice storehouse. He confesses that years ago, his family asked him to lodge the growing traffic of artists elsewhere. There are plenty of abandoned buildings to choose from, including our wooden house, which he bought from an auction after the inhabitants had run away in the night. This rural town has a strange history without another naked European destroying rice fields in the name of ‘art’.
However this does not stop me from going out on my morning run. After a kilometre I notice a small, Lego-sized van slowly following me from a distance. It must be a farmer fearing for his produce. After repeated morning runs, he decides my daily exercise is not a threat and I enjoy surveillance-free fresh air in the fields before the suffocating heat swallows us.
A few days later the artists are invited to the village matsuri (Japanese festival) at the local shrine. I wonder which of the musicians on the top of a rickety wooden tower is my farmer. Their wives come, harried and still dressed in aprons. They circle the wooden stand as the men enjoy a constant flow of beer for inspiration. The song and dances are specific to this village, committed to memory. That explains a few chuckles from the singer as he forgets his words. An ancient lady is escorted to the circle and quickly snaps us into shape. Her hands dictate with precision making us regimentally fall in line. It’s a simple dance but still beyond my comprehension. I laugh at my mistakes. One of the village women laughs back in commiseration.
Hirofumi, tells me there are only six children in the village, signs of Japan’s aging population as people drain into city centres. I smile at his contribution, a tiny, mischievous boy darting about to steal sweets.
After the festival we help pack up and are invited to the shrine keepers drinking party. This is a first for Hirofumi who has organised the artist residency for the past decade. The initial few years were hardest for him, settling garbage disposal disputes between his neighbours and the international artists, a serious matter in the countryside.
The farmers are beginning to realise the benefit of having the rest of the world come to them, as small cafes and travellers fill the empty spaces left behind. Their traditions are no longer a jealous secret as they gregariously feed us rice cakes and saké whilst talking late into the night in broken Japanese.
Finishing a giant painting during lockdown in a tiny room.
9th March – 25th April 2021 – Exhibition
My intention is to paint a waterfall as homage to Yokoo Tadanori who’s art-house I visited on Teshima Island. The painting, Universal Frantic Love, was inside the second house, full of comedic vice or ‘black humour’ as his work is often described. I walked around to look at his other paintings but came back again and again to this one. The two illustrated lovers are filled with gushing waterfalls and the bent backs of perverted old men.
The waterfall also reoccurs in Aida Makoto’s aptly named “Waterfall”, which was another astonishing painting I viewed at the Osaka museum, years earlier. Makoto’s large scale depiction of underage school girls frolicking in a waterfall was offensive, sarcastic, mesmerising and above all fun, at the same time. You feel guilting viewing it but cannot look away.
These waterfall paintings make me laugh. They are, to me, a sardonic take on institutionalised cultural norms.
The waterfall, as an analogy, is interesting in itself. There may be a subtext of sexuality, like trains thrusting through deep mountain tunnels etc, but consider the act of standing under a waterfall. The force one has to withstand to do so without being pushed down. It is not one singular force but the collective mass of millions of droplets, billions of atoms, at combined force to push you down, to conform. Playing in the waterfall is perhaps dipping in and out of the social paradigm.
I decided a waterfall would feature in my work too.
In 2019 I completed a painting on residency, called ‘Tropical tartan’ on shouji paper. I wanted to try cultural blending and bring a little sunshine to Scotland’s most internationally recognised weave. I was able to fold and prop the painting open on walls – the light but durable paper was able to stay in a fixed in position.
‘Tropical tartan’ was superseded by “Space mountain”. (You can see it hung over the chair in the right picture below). I’ve never been to Space Mountain but I imagined this grand mountain: a monument for nothing. (Makoto). Unfortunately my Shouji paper paintings stopped there as the costs of buying quality, durable paper in the UK exceeded my fantastic student budget.
Throughout the Christmas period (2019), I revised an oil painting mono-printing method onto wooden boards, that worked well for me. I used prints, created from crumpled up beer cans and distortions of “Tropical Tartan” and “Space Mountain”.
I found Keith Tyson’s Artmachine inspiring. The poetic idea of a machine that creates beautiful lies or as he describes it as a “conceptual machine” is an enticing tool for an artist. My paintings and prints were to become the course for cultural reinvention.
Making art to sell has become a time stressful activity. To produce great work, no mistakes, always use the cleanest, finest wood, paper, inks involves an awful waste. When I worked for a gallery in London, they had piled up brand new canvases with a fresh tear in each to be taken to the dump. All the freshly torn canvases were for an installation but now on completion of the show, they would head to the skip. A mountain of waste from good materials for just one month of gallery time.
I know old timber is warped and you have to work hard at it, but the timber brings it’s whole life with it. Fresh timber is easier and quicker to use for frames but it is vague, minimalist, there is no history.
My frames may seem old fashioned but to be frank I’m getting tired of the hypocracy that surrounds minimalist art. To be minimal it wastes so much. Yes I could make my paintings look like cheap cheese blocks at Tesco but I will try not to where possible.