Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Art of Not Being Boxed-in

An introduction today, via the duties of the workplace, to the work of the late Birgir Andresson, & specifically the artist's cut-out cardboard boxes of his 'Build' series, one of which is pictured in two views below:

Such an encounter brought a pleasant reminder of Leo Fitzmaurice's smaller scale 'de-texted' boxes in similar vein, examples of which, arranged on the floor to all appearances like the buildings of a model city, I was fortunate to see, & hear the artist himself discuss, in an exhibition at Liverpool's Bluecoat Gallery back in 2002. Below are illustrated a pair of the general type:

In both cases, the process of removing the lettering & logos that would identify their (former) contents, brand them, & communicate something particular through one language, transforms utilitarian objects into forms that might inspire a more imaginative, literally & figuratively open reading, such as drawing an architectural analogy to the remaining, redesigned structures, spaces to be explored & considered.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fruitful Interlude

Today the opposite of tomato is 'works of art with a minimum of steel'

Presenting a one-off seasonal special today, rather than the habitual annual fruit-fest, as a pair of the available (just, given their ripening-to-mellowness condition) pears became resolved into a suitable composition for active contemplation through the process of drawing in graphite & watercolour.
As usual, the pears are arranged & seen in such proximity as to attempt to 'charge with energy' the space between in the manner ascribed by Andrew Forge to a particular composition of Euan Uglow's featuring a pair of pears (please refer to this archive blog post).

graphite & watercolour/30x21cm


Moon Wiring Club 'A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding'
Bauhaus '1979 - 1983 Vols. 1
& 2'

There's something of the autumn that palpably informs the aesthetic of the Moon Wiring Club, rendering a listen to the goings-on of the denizens of Clinkskell all the more appropriate under the seasonal circumstances, although no such excuse is required, of course, such is TOoT’s attachment to the work of Mr Hodgson.

The re-acquaintance with the sounds (& iconography too) of Bauhaus is another matter altogether, however, with the whim to hear said music occurring what might be a good 25 years since the last aural engagement with what was a particular favourite band, back in the early Eighties (so much so, in fact, that they remain the only band I’ve seen live on as many as three occasions: the first, in fact, mentioned already in these parts, here, in relation to an appearance, also, by The Birthday Party, back in June of 1981).
An interesting experience to report, accompanied by the sense of knowing why one may have moved on from certain artists & their music, their sound, although not without a number of moments of pleasant recognition, of songs that do seem to have endured, that offer more than merely the indulgence or whatever of nostalgia (the revisiting, indeed, of specifically teenage passions: swinging the heartache of the loss of, perhaps? For all that, with the hindsight of experience, may be worth anyway…), more often than not because of their deviation from the norm of the signature aesthetic, which itself retains a certain attraction, if, possibly, preferably, in smaller doses than the two volumes of the retrospective somewhat indigestibly constitute.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to (Double) Black...

A grand day out indeed, this afternoon, as it concluded with the most delightful discovery, upon the surface of one of the back streets of Chester, of an example of what had become, over the course of the years & numerous documentings, TOoT's signature 'double black lines' road markings, formerly thought to have been consigned to the past (& another place) but brought vividly into the now in a new location.

In addition to both the sense of novelty & the renewing of acquaintance with a familiar subject, there is an exciting development too in the form in which these particular lines (corrective black over original yellow) appear - not mechanically applied like the previous examples, but, in numerous instances (these synechdocally suggesting the whole), quite obviously hand-made, altogether more 'painterly' as they record the passage through time & space of the brush in the dried marks of the discrete strokes.

As with the subject matter generally, the photographs taken thus picture mostly grey monochrome surfaces of a variety of tones & textures, apart from where, as in the first example below, some of the original yellow lines remain (as a compostional element, amongst others, of the whole):

The following corrections in particular - the sequence of images describing a course from left to right - display a wonderful, explicit brush-marked quality, applied, swiped at, mostly, diagonals to the horizontal of the underlying lines, the pale yellow of which is evident in traces beneath the black paint: such a process, as apparent, might well be considered to be a certain kind of 'action painting', such is the flurry of activity fixed in the form of the dried brush strokes.

In the following example, the evidence of the repaired road surface provides a further element of linear & compositional interest, with tonal & textural subtleties, at an angle to the double black lines. Also vividly apparent is the small section of yellow line left uncovered, uncorrected: what could such signify? Is it purely an aesthetic statement perhaps, devoid of any practical informational function?

By way of serendipity, the moments prior to the encounter with these double black lines had been spent having a welcome sit down in Waterstones', indulging in a relaxed & leisurely read of Bertrand Russell's 'In Praise of Idleness' in the Philosophy section, from the shelves of which A picked an edition of the 'Basic Writings' of Heidegger sporting the cover design illustrated below, with an image most appropriately of a tarmac-surfaced & paint-marked nature.

If ever there was an inducement, a sign indeed, to engage, after much procrastination & delay, with the ideas of Heidegger, which has been the intention for far too long now, then surely such must be it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheese and Tomato

Something in particular caught my intrigued eye in the new, October issue of Art Review during a browse today, as, oft being a companion of tomato, it might, namely a reproduction of a photograph by Clare Strand of a cheese 'sculpture' made by her father.

Rather a coincidence this, following as it did the publication of a particular tomato-based story in a local newspaper earlier this week:

The perfect combination.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thought Into Practice...

Today brought something of a development in relation to yesterday’s thoughts (or musings upon the lack of), & a welcome return to a session of drawing practice - not the intended active contemplation of a particular collection of seasonal objects (as has become customary during this month of the year) but, rather, others that presented a more compelling distraction during the course of making the decision where to draw.

The object matter then is, primarily, a table lantern with a translucent, frosted glass surround & some LED candle lights of a similar type, arranged upon a windowsill & observed, in the familiar if not exclusively habitual manner, contre jour.
The subject matter, of course, is the representation of a tonal study of the composition & the dialogue between the process of marks made with graphite pencils & putty eraser, of addition, accumulation & subtraction, exploring the subtleties of the transitions of tone between objects & 'tactile' space, of attempting to record what is seen in conditions of natural light - & the fluctuations, fading of - over the course of time.

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

What was observed was, essentially, an arrangement of simple geometrical shapes that in places & along edges, with the light from without/behind passing through their translucent forms, glowed a bright white, the drawing process thus involving erasure of the graphite marks forming the mid-toned ground back as far as possible, where appropriate, to the original white of the page.

Closely observed, the material substance & surface finish of the objects brought to mind very much the tracing paper, & overlaid accumulations of, used by Kees Goudzwaard in constructing the paper & masking tape models for his 1:1 scale painted representations of, which can thus be read as highly-realised & faithful still lifes of low-relief three dimensional objects, almost in the manner of trompe l'oeil, &/or also geometrical abstract compositions in the best traditions of Modernism.

Kees Goudzwaard: paper model for 'Transit' 2009

Kees Goudzwaard 'Transit' 2009
oil on canvas/120x90cm

Also pictured is a photograph of the objects originally intended to be studied & drawn, upon the rather wonderful retro coffee table & its closely-toned patterned surface: nice.


The Lilac Time 'The Lilac Time'
PJ Harvey 'Let England Shake'

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pause for Thought

The afternoon tea break at work today afforded the opportunity to have a brief browse at least through the latest, September 2011 issue of Modern Painters, including as it does an article on & also a Q&A with Richard Serra, during the latter of which he claims, on the subject of drawing & keeping sketchbooks, "For me seeing is a way of thinking, and drawing is my way of recording my thoughts", a philosophy that struck a mighty chord, such is the contemplative importance I've always attached to the process of looking & drawing, the activity of thought.

Does the lack of any drawing activity on my part then signify that I'm also not thinking...? And further to that, taking the Cartesian view, does that suggest that, not drawing, not thinking, therefore I am...not?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Picnic Time

Another documenting of objects found upon the road, just so, during a wander down a local country lane – not the usual ‘roadkilled’ aluminium cans on this unusual occasion, but, rather, an anomaly in the shape of some scattered jaffa cakes, somewhat out the context one might expect to encounter such, the first pair to be pictorially captured rather conveniently exhibiting the opposite sides of their forms (note the particularly aesthetic glossy chocolate topping, very much like the most luscious oil paint).

Then, returning to the more familiar ‘roadkill’ conceptual framework informing the found objects project (such as it is) in general, a third jaffa cake, existing apart from the previous pair & alone in its own space upon the road surface, appearing, we might say, a little ‘tyred’, displaying evidence of having been run over by a wheeled vehicle & consequently flattened down a little…

Also a fourth jaffa cake, still contained within one aspect of its packaging, a tube of orange cellophane, that, especially in the unusual context in which it was found, constitutes a most striking aesthetic object in itself, its colour providing a vivid contrast to the background of grass & tarmac upon which it lay.

Under the circumstances, one is very tempted to brew an accompanying pot of tea...

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Presenting something of a 'painterly' post today, with the pictorial evidence of a mark of orange paint that appeared particularly flourescent against the grey of the kerbstone upon which it was made & the tarmac of the road surface, on a day of dull grey light, & which photographed in even more incandescently fiery fashion than it occurred to the naked eye, in the moment, a striking aesthetic effect.
Note also the inclusion of the painted arrow (or at least its uneroded remains) within the composition, giving the whole a certain dynamic, perhaps, & the inadvertent presence of the shoes of the 'gazer'...