Tuesday, September 30, 2008

View, Interrupted

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm
original source: 'The Guardian' 25/09/08

The original photographic source from which this drawing was processed brought to mind very vividly such of Klimt's forest landscapes as the beech example illustrated.
As the drawing progressed, its mark-making process of addition & subtraction soon resembled that of Klimt's painting, where space & any sense of planar recession is negated, all visual activity is compressed towards & at the surface in 'all-over', jewelled, mosaic-like patterned form, abstract in nature, from which, subsequently, the 'subject' & image content emerge as a secondary concern.
The birch trunks that form the ostensible subject matter of the original photograph result, in the drawing, in a pleasing harmony of corresponding vertical & horizontal rhythms.

Gustav Klimt 'Beech Forest'
oil on canvas/1902


Lambchop 'I Hope You're Sitting Down'
Sparklehorse 'Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain'
Bat For Lashes 'Fur and Gold'
Groove Armada 'Vertigo'
Beth Orton 'Central Reservation'

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Art of Advertising (Again)

Today the opposite of tomato is 'shaking that ass'

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm
oroginal source: 'Daily Telegraph' 19/09/08

The original newspaper photograph from which this drawing was processed references the popular tradition of the 'Venus' of art history: the female nude in opulent, sensual surroundings, recumbent upon a sumptuously upholstered bed, plump silk pillows & cushions, the chiaroscuro lighting. As the image in its original context serves to illustrate a product advertisement, this quotation confers upon the marketing campaign a sense of this tradition & thus a patina of 'high cultural' authority & respectibility: otherwise, the whole, its combination of visual symbolism (including the pomegranates - split open, the glistening seeds of their interiors available & offered - signifying fertility & abundance as might the model's form) & text, is a frankly sexual 'hard sell', an advertisement of & appeal to sexuality & sexual desire, a naked invitation to buy a product & thus into the improved, idealized, desirable lifestyle it suggests (none-too-subtly) it promotes.

Coincidentally, the newspaper ad appeared & thus the drawing was subsequently inspired & made just prior to the BBC4 rebroadcasting of John Berger's 1970s TV series 'Ways of Seeing' (the book of the same title being an art college staple text), during the course of which the relationship between the tradition of the fine art of European oil painting & contemporary advertising is subjected to rigorous critical scrutiny: the situation remains the same, albeit we live in more explicit times now, 35 years on, & the veneer of sophistication with which advertising coats & attempts to mask its fundamental, naked aim has worn thinner still. However, for all the banal crassness of the original context, the image proved most seductive in terms of processing as a tonal study of form - a tribute, perhaps to its art historical source.

The focus of the image (&, incidentally, the accompanying text) brought vividly to mind such nudes from art history as Velasquez's so-called 'Rokeby' Venus & another of Boucher's. I recall fondly how the Rokeby Venus was a particular favourite & object of desire of a college art history professor & also, during the course of another TV programme, was referred to as "the most smackable arse in the history of art"...

Velasquez 'The Toilet of Venus'
oil on canvas/1647 - 51

Boucher 'Girl Reclining (Marie-Louise O'Murphy)'
oil on canvas/1752

A particular signifier of just how compelling the 'Rokeby' Venus remains can be found at the Velasquez Venus Project, a fascinating attempt by the painter Joseph Dawson to create his own personal take on the theme of the Venus With a Mirror, which blog charts his progress from conception to completion of his transcription & the resulting image.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cinematic Scale

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Guardian' 09/06/08

Another original newspaper photograph offering the opportunity to indulge in further levels of reproduction & representation through the drawing process, courtesy of the cinema poster serving as the background to the main subject of the image, & to also once more explore issues of scale, with the significant disparity on show. There's also a pleasing pictorial dynamic between the opposite directions in which each pair of eyes are looking.


Lambchop 'Aw C'mon'/'No, You C'mon'
Tunng 'Good Arrows'
Sparklehorse 'It's a Wonderful Life'
Portishead 'Dummy'
Cat Power 'The Greatest'
Wire 'A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck'
PJ Harvey 'Is This Desire?'
Boards of Canada 'Geogaddi'

Monday, September 15, 2008

Joy Unconfined

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Guardian' 09/09/08

Considering again the process by which a photograph might become topical for use in a daily newspaper, this original – dating from 1979 – was printed to illustrate an obituary, of someone other than either of the subjects portrayed: the two musicians are/were members of the band Joy Division, pictured in performance at a venue owned by the obituaree concerned, undoubtedly chosen for their own iconic status (see this recent post & related drawing, & also this earlier critique of the film ‘Control’), enduring for all their brief lifespan.

Again, the image was chosen for its inherently photographic appearance, its blurred capture of a frozen moment of movement (in this instance Ian Curtis’s famously jerky, angular style of dancing) & the tonal contrast between the spot-lit highlights & the velvety, fathomless blacks that bring to mind the striking chiaroscuro of Caravaggio & a particular tradition of Spanish still life painting.


Joy Division 'Unknown Pleasures', 'Closer' & 'Substance'
Sol Seppy 'The Bells of 1 2'

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reflective Mood...

Today the opposite of tomato is a righteous piece of cheese

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm
original source: 'Daily Telegraph' 03/09/08

Continuing a theme of some of the recent drawings, with another slight variation, the original photograph from which this drawing was processed offered the opportunity to again explore the idea of different, numerous levels of representation & the interplay of, with a subject reflected in a mirror - &, partially, also in the mirrored frame of the photograph being handled (thus appearing thrice, in different views) - & another appearing in portrait form, both thus at another stage of ‘remove’. As with the previous example, interesting to note that eye contact is established with the viewer by the subject of the portrait, the picture within the picture.


Belle & Sebastian 'Push Barman...', 'If You're Feeling Sinister', 'Tigermilk' & 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress'
Boards of Canada 'Geogaddi'
David Bowie 'Best of 1969/1974'
Lambchop 'How I Quit Smoking' & 'Damaged'

Monday, September 08, 2008

Joy & Happy-ness

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Times' 2 05/09/08

This drawing being processed from an old original made topical through being used in a daily newspaper television guide to illustrate a BBC4 evening’s programming focussing on certain aspects of the Manchester music scene of the recent past. A pleasure indeed to have the opportunity to enjoy once again the excellent documentary ‘Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays’ charting the history of the record label with particular emphasis on its leading lights Joy Division, New Order & Happy Mondays, & featuring fabulous anecdotal contributions from the main surviving players (including, at the time of its making, the late, great Tony Wilson): essential viewing, filled with any number of ‘madeleine moments’. Also a fascinating ‘Rock Family Tree’ focussing on JD-NO & the Buzzcocks, whose early music in particular endures with a delightful energy: the ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP truly was a seminal release, ‘Boredom’, ‘Breakdown’ et al.
And, positively spoiling anyone so ‘nostalgically inclined’, a compilation of BBC TV appearances by Manchester bands from the 60s & Freddie & the Dreamers to the present day with the Ting Tings, including a performance on ‘Something Else’ by Joy Division of ‘She’s Lost Control’ of such intensity (Ian Curtis & Stephen Morris particularly absorbed in themselves & their roles, Peter Hook & Bernard Sumner, also, studies in cool concentration), the sound exhilaratingly visceral, harsh, essential, the encapsulation of the power & purpose of the band that, as alluded to by Tony Wilson – that they simply had to be on stage, as an act of absolute necessity, making music, communicating their art – marked them out at their all-too-brief time & has subsequently ensured that they have endured, undiminished.


Belle & Sebastian 'The Life Pursuit'
Radiohead 'Kid A'
New Order homemade compilation of singles & selected album tracks
Tricky 'Maxinquaye'

New Order sounded magnificent, as with Joy Division the passage of time since the music’s original release serving only to reinforce its majesty & quality. Interesting to realise too, just how strongly a band such as Radiohead have been influenced by JD & aspects of ‘the Martin Hannett sound’.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Drawing a Line in the Sand...

Today the opposite of tomato is 'The Rise & Fall of the Letter P'

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm
original source: 'The Times' 2 04/09/08

...whilst also, in the style of Paul Klee, 'taking a line for a walk', quite literally.
The original photograph from which this drawing was processed held a very strong attraction, the image having a wonderful sense of space & light, & also of a strong psychological nature with its suggestion of freedom. One thinks of the mature paintings of Jackson Pollock, & their genesis in, amongst other influences, Native American sand paintings...


Belle & Sebastian 'The Boy With the Arab Strap' & 'Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant'
Lambchop 'Damaged'

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Processes of Representation

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Guardian' G2 26/08/08

The original photograph from which this drawing was processed allowed once again the opportunity of engaging with various levels of reproduction & representation, courtesy of the figure holding a framed portrait photograph: interesting in terms of formal dialogue & dynamic how the more 'removed', 'distant' figure establishes eye contact with both the artist(-as-viewer) & (any subsequent) viewer (of the drawing-newspaper-original photograph), whilst the more immediately present (but still significantly removed down the 'reproductive chain': i.e. photograph-newspaper-drawing) one averts their gaze.