Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Tribute to Persistence

Today the opposite of tomato is 'an argument punctuated by sex'

graphite, putty eraser & watercolour/30x20cm

Being the latest in the sequence of 'roadkill' diptych drawings, this processed with reference to both the 'Readymade Cubism' of the found object & also an 'aesthetically distanced' photocopy of.
Again, the object itself & subsequent representation of offers an example that displays, even in the reduced circumstances of its compressed & distressed state, the tenacity of its brand identity to communicate its message, with the flowing, looping lines of its script being recognisable enough to do so even in fragmented form, something of a marvel of synechdoche & also telling of the ubiquity of such signage, branded indeed, indelibly so, into the personal & common cultural psyche.


Joy Division 'Unknown Pleasures' & 'Closer'
Belle & Sebastian 'Push Barman To Open Old Wounds'
& 'The Boy With the Arab Strap'

The welcome recent repeat of the peerless BBC TV documentary 'Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays' being more than sufficient inspiration to listen to a bit of JD again, in best 'always a pleasure (if hardly 'unknown', after all these years), never a chore' style, magnificently goose pimple inducing as ever, followed by the many & delightful charms of the earlier output of Belle & Sebastian: how bright still burns the independent spirit within one's soul, to the very core.

It would, too, be most remiss not to enthuse rather on the subject of the Beeb's (them again) current 'Desperate Romantics' series, a playful fictionalisation of the tale of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, & the art, lives & loves thereof - visually ravishing & jolly good fun.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Grand Day Out

So to Birmingham for a day out & friends-meeting purposes, before which a while-u-wait potter around the Ikon gallery, featuring exhibitions of Carmen Herrera's somehow timeless modernist formal abstractions - geometric in nature, excepting a few early lyrical examples, mostly either colourful-&-black rhythmic patterns of interlocking (tri)angular shapes, some within circular canvases, or otherwise more severely minimalist monochrome designs that sometimes suggested (referring to something outside the purely formal harmony of the self-sufficent & -reflexive picture) architectural details (such as the descending steps of a staircase) or spaces (such as the corner of a large room) - & also 'Bad Faith', a selection of videos of David Sherry's absurdist performances. Was particularly taken & inspired by the image adorning the poster advertising the latter show...

...which seems to illustrate rather succinctly a mental state familiar to numerous parts of any given day.

Also the sculpture garden in Oozells Square, in front of the Ikon:

minimalist & coolly harmonious, in terms of objects, space & textures (including the trees also), in something of a Japanese style (although perhaps a bit too symmetrically ordered to be wholly in keeping with such a particular aesthetic), what with the channel of water too - a pleasing, quiet combination of the overtly designed, man-made & natural elements.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

'Readymade Cubism'

Today the opposite of tomato is The Saddest Music in the World

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Considering the source found object from which this latest 'roadkill diptych' drawing was processed, one might refer, art-historically, to such an example as 'Readymade Cubism', the object having been 'accidentally' compressed from three-dimensions-in-the-round into a series of overlapping two-dimensional planes that represent its form as a patchwork composition of shards & fragments, to be read as such which at the same time offer clues as to enable the imaginative reconstruction of the whole object in its original state, or at least an approximation thereof: add the obvious reference to Pop Art, & what might appear worthless - a used/useless, discarded, distressed thing - becomes a rich source of aesthetic resonances.

The drawing was processed mostly from direct reference to a 'distanced' photocopy of the object (in keeping with much of this year's practice & general theme), with occasional recourse to the thing itself. Looking once again, with profound admiration, at the work of Jasper Johns, & especially all those wonderful, compellingly gestured & textured, sensuous surfaces, the dark-toned ground of the left-hand half of the drawing this time employs a more multi-directional mark-making approach than the habitual strictly diagonally-stroked surface.


Test Match Special Eng v Aus 4th Test, 3rd day
Hanne Hukkelberg 'Rykestrasse 68'
Moon Wiring Club 'An Audience of Art Deco Eyes'

Related to both the soundtrack & the general appearance of photocopied source material is today's choice of viewing, a work of musical cinema in the form of director Guy Maddin's inventive 'The Saddest Music in the World'. Very much an object of desire, having been initially encountered as written about, most intriguingly, in an art mag some years previously, the recently-purchased DVD has at last enabled access to a wonderful & strange work of art, its aesthetic abundant in references to cinema's & art history.

Mostly shot in monochrome with occasional bursts of vivid, dreamlike technicolour, its grainy, somewhat degraded, high-contrast appearance recalls that of the silent movie era (& the later technological phenomenon of poor-quality-reproduction xeroxed images), whilst the narrative (essentially a beer baroness-sponsored global competition to discover which country produces, as it says on the tin, the saddest music in the world) is in the best Hollywood tradition of melodramatic machinations & the musical (even if it's something of a warped take on the latter), peopled by an exaggeratedly eccentric cast of main characters to whom sadness is attached, historically & present, even if displaced, in some form - all are somewhat damaged, physically (the female protagonist is, for example, a double leg amputee, of tragi-comic blundering circumstances) &/or psychologically or emotionally, by aspects of personal history, tragedy or over-ambition, but the whole is leavened by the energy of the developing narrative & many touches of comedy & absurdity. The theme of memory - variously its loss, recovery, persistence, fictionalisation & unreliability - is present throughout as the threads of the narrative interweave, to increasingly poignant effect: even in the midst of the film's explicit stylization, the actors' performances, the representations of their personal & mutual melancholies, display a convincing depth.

The striking, theatrical sets (of the environs of a fictional, fantastical, snowbound, Depression-era Winnipeg & an industrial scale brewery) reference such iconic modernism as Cubism, Constructivism & Art Deco, & the whole visual inventiveness & magical aesthetic (which relates 'TSMitW' to a film such as 'The Science of Sleep': similarly, the 'Saddest Music' DVD extras include a couple of making-of documentaries that provide delightful & informative insight into the low-budget creative process) is perhaps best embodied in the creation of a pair of glass prosthetic legs which are subsequently filled with beer (& drunk from & worn!). Much of the film is shot through Vaseline-smeared camera lenses that soften & blur the edges of the frames & otherwise have something of a faceting effect upon the images that again suggests Cubism (as does the nature of the hand-held cinematography), & this simple technical visual device aids the overall strange, hallucinatory aspect of proceedings: its a film that appears, ultimately, quite unlike any other, the product of Maddin's idiosyncratic, experimental creative vision, & becomes a compelling work of art.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It Seemed So Fitting In Its Way...

Today, the purposeful potterings brought a wonderfully serendipitous roadside find, along the course of the local double black lines markings, of the type that one simply couldn't make up or mock up.

Photographed exactly as found, the 'roakill' in this particular instance, deviating from the habitual aluminium drinks cans, is a representation of a knitted woollen puppet, recognized as being one of a group featured in a series of TV advertisements for the Vauxhall Corsa car, of the usual grimly-fascinating kind: a little light internet research has unearthed the fact that it is actually the character 'White' of the fictional pop band 'The C'mons/C.M.O.N.S', which itself might have been created purely for the purpose of the ads. Given also that these characters appear to indulge in a spot of car-jacking in at least one of the ads, it seems somehow rather appropriate that one of their number should be hoist by its own petard, as it were...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Art On The Road

More 'Pop Art roadkill' encountered in proximity to the double black lines road markings during the course of today's purposeful potterings, with the broader view also incorporating some additional markings into the 'readymade' composition...

Also this fabulous kerbside find, in the finest Ab-Ex tradition, extending some distance across the road surface - the complex traceries of delicate tendrils of the splattered white paint create some quite beautiful, dynamic line drawing...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Drawing Flat-Out Again

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Returning after a briefish hiatus to the subject of the 'roadkill' diptych drawings, this particular found object once again displays fine & compelling 'Cubistically' compressed & folded form, including something of a 'synechdochal' truncation of its brand name.
Returning also to the practice of using an 'aesthetically distanced' source, as has been the case with most of this year's work, the drawing was processed mostly from a photocopy, with occasional reference to the object itself, the drawing thus being re-mediated from an already mediated representation of the original object, with an interplay thus occurring between more recent & much older 'technologies', this process then becoming more complicated again when digitally scanning the finished drawing & subsequently presenting the resulting image, via a software program, on the 'net, a complex set of reproductions & representations.

Also encountered not another example of a 'roadkill' can set against the double black lines road markings, but in fact one previously photographed (please refer to the first image in last Sunday's post) now having been shifted by some unknown agency (most probably vehicular, of course, but given my own dabblings amongst the gutters, this can not be guaranteed!) into a new (com)position...


Black Box Recorder 'England Made Me'
The Delgados 'The Great Eastern'
Hanne Hukkelberg 'Rykestrasse 68'
Sigur Ros 'Aegytis Byrjun'
Test Match Special
Eng v Aus
3rd Test, day 4