Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Rokeby Venus's Arse

Just one day to go before this weekend's Garden Party show at the PITT Project Space. here are a few words about what I've been up to. 

The Nu School of Contemporary Landscape Painting (NuCON) draws inspiration from the Microsoft screensaver depicting a somewhat nondescript hill, possibly somewhere in the United State of America.

For some kids, hardwired into online status recognition, their head in the cloud in some inner city urban ghetto this might be the first hill they ever see; Mount Para for the digital age, the meeting point where nature impinges on a virtual world. For the older, casual browser however, this green unpleasant mound might have become the point at which, the laptop having pinged into life they are forced into a decision, to choose between googling leisure wear and/or an evening browsing t&a through dead eyes, glass of Merlot in one hand, unresponsive mouse in the other.

This is a conventionally sexual hill, a gently undulating yet threateningly tilting tit or belly, the latest in a line that links the Rokeby Venus’s arse, Courbet’s Origin of the World and Andrew Wyeth’s Christine’s World, minus house, barn and girl. It might even be called Depilation Valley, shorn as it is of trees, shrubs, not a bush in sight. Nothing to spoil the view: everything revealed, all concealed.

We wonder what is the other side of it, what lurks just out of sight to the right, over the brow of the hill, those hills in the distance, menacing, inviting. Silent.

How did this seemingly ordinary image become arguably the most recognisable landscape in the world; more famous than a Constable hedgerow, Turner Wheat field or Stubbs’ pony, in leafy arbours languidly resting?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

No Pain, No Gainsboro.

Time goes by, what are we, day eight or thereabouts and here I am, once more back in the lions den, the pit of despair, the PITT of hope in the Land of Hope and Crosby. It has been a while since I have picked up a paintbrush in anything approaching anger, mind you, the Worcester Open getting in the way for two weeks didn’t help. The studio was a bit of a mess but have had a tidy and thrown the doors wide open to let some fresh air into the place.

Playboy Bounty Bunny Hunter (+ mess) 
The big news is that I have bought two more canvases, one medium sized and one smaller sized. And talking of sizing, that is what I have done, applying a nice coat of glue evenly on the back and whilst the larger one still has a bit of muffin top the smaller is as tight as a drum.

am continuing with the English Landscape painting theme as previously mentioned and am using the Microsoft screensaver image as the basis for my Bunny paintings. Microsoft’s image must surely be the most recognizable landscape in Britain, if not the world, replacing Constable’s Haywain at the top of the naturist’s chart.

I am not a naturist but anyone can recognize how exposed one would be on this landscape, the Hatywain offers far more protection from the elements and also cover from unintentional prying eyes.

Monday, 5 August 2013

If Nigella Made Art....

If Nigella made art then this might be what she would make – creamy blobs of sticky figurativeness wrestling with lashings of vivid detail inviting the viewer to dip their finger before stepping back and idly contemplating the canvas through half closed eyes. One can almost imagine a soft focus Ann Bennett winking at the viewer as she dreamily teases out another oily motif, perhaps brushing her lips against the tip of soft, squirally sable, her eyes briefly meeting yours before she tilts her head to contemplate another bout of languid mark making.

So it’s a touch odd to then realise that the six large canvases that make up Tabula Rasa, the centre piece of her show at the Artrix are of chubby, healthy looking babies, possibly the artist’s own, each one luxuriating smack dab in the middle of their own large, creamily dreamy canvas. Each baby appears content, as though they have just been tickled by a favourite parent or been gently woken from a particularly satisfying nap. No chiarascuro here, nothing so dramatic, instead each huge baby comprises a series of fragmented gestures; a curious eye, twisted fingers, the curve of limb, a cowslick, that leap from the canvas whilst their torsos blur into marsh mellow yellow and white chocolate fudge-cakey nothingness.

But it is as much about the paint and it’s application as it is the image. If you step up close to the canvases, real close, no – closer, so close that you can almost taste where the butter and the turpentine meet and where the edge of the canvas melts away until form becomes meaningless, and you allow your gaze to skirt around caked ridges before it tumbles down linseed alleys and painterly micro valleys then it is like being once more escorted back into your own private childhood, one of imaginary landscapes where your imagination could run wild and for a moment no one could know what you were dreaming, no one in the grown up world.    

Tabula Rasa is at the Artrix, Bromsgrove until September 1st.