work in progress: 2017-18
Currently I am working with ideas rooted in a painting I made in 1964. Oil on board, the 1964 work was based on a photograph, shot from above, of a woman treading water in a swimming pool (see below). At the time, 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 became drawn to the edges of the form and to the lines around and across the swimsuit. The format of the finished work was square with a composition defined by the the swimmer's arms, legs and torso effectively dividing the painting into three areas of similar size.
Through this exercise, I became interested in the process of abstraction which evolved into something of a preoccupation with pure abstract, undulating lines. Out of this experience was born a series of small paintings suggesting 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. The series was acrylic paint on canvas, a medium more suited to my working process than are oils, and one to which I have stayed loyal to this day.
For about the next ten years, a move away from representational imagery influenced ideas that permeated both 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 have acquiesced to the fact that the representational content of early 2017 has been haunted by shadows of my preoccupations in the mid-sixties. In essence, I conceded that certain elements and colour choices continue to hold as much interest for me now as they did fifty-plus years ago. The difference now is that 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. I am also restricting the format of each work to circles and diamonds: squares displayed at 45 degrees.
Perhaps I should have seen this 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 to recreate a selection of the 1970s work in miniature, but with processes that hold more interest for me incorporating materials and surfaces that are more lively than those of their antecedents.
Unlike their 1960s to 70s roots however, this newer work embraces processes that are, materially, much less a monologue and more a dialogue, even a conversation. Perhaps ironically, something of the surface that existed in that original oil painting has played forward in the form both of real and imagined texture. 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 2019/20.
In the hope that this is interesting enough to return to at a later date, please stay tuned.