Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You're the One for Me, 'Flatty'...

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

The latest 'Pop Art roadkill' diptych drawing to be processed featuring an example of found 'Readymade Cubism', this particular subject/object having been compressed, reformed, into a state of low relief, the nature of such evoking, once again, the ghost of Clement Greenberg & his once-influential interpretation of the progress of the practice of Modernist painting, via a compelling, persuasive (but rather exclusive) linear narrative from Cezanne to Cubist painting & collage to Mondrian - the godfather of grids! - to Abstract Expressionism & ultimately the 'colour field' stains of 'post-painterly' abstraction. Greenberg proposed the theory of painting defining itself through its medium-specific quality of 'flatness', referring to the limiting conditions of the physical support upon which the activity is performed (i.e. the area of canvas defined by its horizontal & vertical edges, which of course the formal device of the grid in particular reiterates), a self-critical condition (adapted from Kant's philosophy) through which painting could assert its autonomy, 'competence' & purpose as a visual, aesthetic experience, whilst acknowledging that the first mark upon the canvas subverts its absolute flatness, that, even if no attempt is made at pictorial tonal 'modelling' with light & shade, some form of optical illusion occurs at this point.

However flat the subject/object of the drawings might have been accidentally compressed, though, still they retain a certain three-dimensional object quality, even in such 'reduced circumstances', & one of the (perverse?!) endeavours of the mark-making process (which includes erasure as an equally positive activity to the stroking of graphite) is to represent the variety of surface incident as experienced empirically, those ridges & depressions of highlights & shadows into which the (unflat) object forms itself (& continually reforms, with the play of natural light & one's subtly ever-changing position in relation to that of the object).
As most recently previously mentioned & photographically illustrated, the mark-making process itself destroys the purity of the flatness of the surface of the paper upon which the drawing is performed, creating a graphite-covered 'object' that seeks to establish some form of dialogue with the object represented within the picture plane.


Gomez 'Bring It On'
Talking Heads 'Best of'
Morrissey 'Vauxhall & I'
Lambchop 'Is a Woman'

A first-time-in-x-years listen to Gomez, 'Bring It On' proving to be something of a Proustian vehicle, transporting one back to pleasant recollections of the graduation summer (during which the sun still seemed to shine), relaxing with a sense of having achieved something worthwhile (at last, for once).
Good to have a reminder too of just how wonderful Talking Heads were capable of being, most particularly during the period of their creative zenith, in collaboration with Brian Eno, the man & whose work provided the subject matter of a pair of excellent BBC4 TV programmes over last weekend, the first a fascinating documentary portrait, the second a compilation of musical 'greatest hits', encompassing the timeline from Roxy Music to the present, which would have been worth watching just for (but by no meeans only) the inclusion of Devo's still astonishing sonic & visual aesthetic as condensed into a video performance of their 'introductory' classic 'Jocko Homo', fabulously lo-fi & minimalist, nothing quite of the like seen or heard before or since, amusing, entertaining & unsettling in equal measure, true art-rock in the very best challenging sense. And familiarity does nothing to blunt the charge of Bowie's exhilarating 'Heroes'.

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