work in progress: 2017-18
Currently I am working with ideas rooted in a painting that I made in 1964. Oil on board, the 1964 work (see below) was based on a photograph, shot from above, of a woman treading water in a swimming pool. Initially, my intention was to render a realistic image. But, as the painting developed, the image became flattened and abstracted with particular elements gaining in significance. My attention was drawn to the edges of the form and to the lines around and across the swimsuit. The format of the finished work was 40"x40" with a composition defined by the the edges of the swimmer's arms, legs and torso effectively dividing the painting into three similarly sized areas of colour.
Through this exercise, I became engaged in the process of abstraction and this evolved into something of a preoccupation with purely abstract, undulating lines. Out of this experience was born a series of small paintings that suggested movement. The format of each painting was square; the colours limited to three or four, and the compositions mere arrangements of lines that generated strong negative spaces (see example below). The series was acrylic paint on canvas, a medium more suited to my particular working process than are oils, and one to which I have stayed loyal to this day.
For about the next ten years, the move away from representational imagery influenced ideas that permeated my two and three dimensional work. (note: the paintings above are presented in monochrome as surviving colour slides had become so faded that, even after digitization and manipulation in Photoshop, true colour could not be resurrected).
More recently, I accepted the fact that the representational content of early 2017 works had been haunted by shadows of my mid-sixties preoccupations. In essence, I conceded that certain elements, including colour choices, continue to hold as much interest for me as they did fifty-plus years ago. The difference between then and now is that my experience with materials, mark making and surface quality has evolved. No longer am I restricting technical considerations to flat colour with content so minimal that the surface of each work is without history. By that, I mean that the earliest work was planned on paper to a point where all choices were finalised. My new work is also planned, but in more general terms. Colours, textures, edges, etc., build up and change throughout the making. I am, however, restricting the format of each work to circles and diamonds: squares displayed at 45 degrees.
Perhaps I should have seen the current trend coming when, in 2013, I revisited ideas from the late 1970s; although my reasoning at the time was different from that of today. In 2013, my interest was in recreating a selection of the 1970s work in miniature. But, as with the pieces in progress, the 2013 work used processes grounded in current interests, i.e. they incorporate materials and surfaces that, unlike their antecedents, are less predictable.
The newest work embraces processes that are less a monologue and more a dialogue, perhaps even materially a conversation. Ironically, something of the surface quality of the original oil painting has played-forward in the form both of real and imagined texture, real and imagined depth. For now however and as I develop and refine this series of works, the visual record - except for a hint in the banner image above - will remain unpublished until exhibition in 2020.
In the hope that this is interesting enough to return to at a later date, please stay tuned.