[[2nd Draft: 1541 words. "The aim of this assignment is to use description of your work as a way of identifying and articulating your method" ]]
Painted Bed sheets, 18.104.22.168.
I have been trying to get away from that really painterly, Pollocky physicality. I like to use paint in quite a graphic simple sparse way, kind of like the iMac of painting. For me I don’t think it makes sense as a painter to be using really thick paints now.
I had been watching a lot of “Powell and Pressburger” films with those scenery scopes that look both fake and real at the same time. That naturally lead me to thinking of, firstly, blue screen compositing, a technique for combining two still images or video frames, and then secondly, our general acceptance in the merging of the fake with the real. In my paintings, I tend to use architecture as a way to organize space. I am interested in the rhythm of the way that cities are built. Blocks and grids, or lack of blocks and grids. For me the built environment is much more inspiring than the natural environment because of the context that it was built on. Having said that, I am also interested in the idea that even the natural landscape is man made. Since being at the Piet Zwart, I have made a series of six large scale acrylic and watercolour paintings. They differentiate in scale slightly, but are roughly just over two meteres in length, and one and a half metres in width. Apart from one exception, they all hang vertically, staple gunned to the wall and grazing the floor. Compositionally they are similar in that they all contain two different scenes within the painting. Medium wise, they are made with water colours, acrylic paint, and wax crayon. I am interested in the labour of painting and the skill involved in the craft. Finished in November, the watercolours have already started to fade, enhancing the already washed out look that it posses originally due to the thinness of paint application There is a humour in painstakingly using a small paintbrush and watercolours to make these large compositions, that in many ways could just be done on a computer screen. The paintings themselves are made on a scale that is slightly bigger than a human. I like the idea of the viewer being able to engage with them on quite a physical level. So for my first group critique at the Piet Zwart I hung them next to each other in an installation entitled “22.214.171.124.” The intention was meant to mimic the feeling of being surrounded by four portals, each leading to different, ‘fake spaces’ or movie sets. (see fig 1.)
To describe one in more detail, I will describe the one that now hangs in my bedroom in Rotterdam (see fig 2.). The top half depicts a grand hotel lobby, the vista being the view one would get from being right there. So one can walk in to the environment of plush velvety chairs and flooring, marble tables, and plants that extend to the very high ceiling in reality, and out of the actual room’s frame in the painting. There is a baby grand on a stage, the stage is also marble. The bottom half of the painting concentrates on a parquet floor, the flooring again extending out of the original image’s frame. This room also contains a baby grand piano. The perspective of the bottom half of the painting could best be described as a bird’s eye view, but tilted to about 45 degrees. I found both images for the painting in a books that I found at the Willem de Koenig. One was about grand renovated hotels in America, and the other a home interiors book on types of flooring. The painting shows a glamorous setting, but it’s existence in materiality is cheap paint on a bed sheet I bought at the market for a couple of euros.I started making these works because when I arrived in Rotterdam I found it pretty grim and the opposite of seductive, and so I wanted to make some wall hangings for both my bedroom and my studio. I was interested to see how far I could push these cheap materials in to the representation of something “expensive”. Each painting was made horizontally flat on the table, rather than painted vertically on the wall. So there are no paint drips, the medium has been very controlled.
Modrock Plantation and other sculptural work
“Palm Tree” was a work I made shortly before I moved to Rotterdam. It is a made fake pot plant. An appropriation of a palm tree, of a height of one and a half metres. Its skeletal composition is of a found bent steel pol, that makes up the trunk, and the leaves are structured out of wire loops. Modrock has been used to mold the composite elements into a plam tree like object. It has then been painted in brown and green, and placed in a pot. This tree then became part of a larger installation named, "Modrock Plantation" (see fig 3.). My interest was to make a sculpture out of found source material, and then to use craft to make it more "glamorous". The attention has been paid to the facade of the object in particular. A similar method to the way I had been making paintings. Pot plants are natural sculptures already and so it is fun to make a sculpture of something that is already considered a sculpture.
“Pink TV” is a work that I made at the Piet Zwart, but follows on from the methodology used in “Modrock Plantation”. It exists as a square based pyramid, with the base being 80cm by 60cm, and the height roughly 70cm. I use the word “roughly” when describing the height, because it is made of papier mache and so the form in general is quite delicate and warped. It rests on its side, with the base facing the viewer. On this base, is a painting of a naked figure in nature, the image is from a photograph that I took myself on a disposable camera. The pyramid has been painted a light pink. So the pyramid starts from the back of the image and extends in to space. I made this piece because after I made the series of big paintings, when I looked at them in aggregate they looked like film back drops. I thought it might be a nice idea to make a prop to stand in front of the painting, in order to exacerbate pre-existing questions in my practice about framing and playing with the natural frame of an image (see fig 4.). Currently in my practice I am thinking about actual installation versus fake installation. How far can you go when you limit yourself to a two dimensional surface ?
The moving image as inspiration
I was looking at a Pipiloti Rist book in the library and it got me thinking a lot about film, and the possible existence of repeated images at the same moment. Good films I find very inspiring. Of late, one that has affected me has been Wim Wenders, “The American Friend” (1977). The film is loosely adapted from the novel, “Ripley’s Game”(1974) by Patricia Highsmith. The aspect of this artefact that interest me in particular is Wender’s stylisation of the novel, and his depiction of Hamburg. I find that in both his colour and black and white films he uses light in such a painterly way. If you look at his films in aggregate there is this tone of sparseness, combined with the generic, that I find very engaging. I also find it interesting to see the architectural parrales across his films, whether they are shot in America or Germany. In my own practice, when searching for source material I think I look for the same things in the landscape. The same shapes in different spaces. I find the generic repetition of things, both in reality and in non-reality, appealing. In terms of imagery, so much that we see in the present day is on computer screens. And in the computer screen format, we can see many different images all at the same time, but formatted in a certain manner. This has without a doubt affected my generation’s way of looking at what is around us. It has certainly affected me.
My methods in practice
My practice is totally process driven, in that I make a lot of things and then conceptualise them afterwards. I like to work with some restrictions, having an economy of medium. So I like to work with what I’ve already got, found materials, or things that can be acquired cheaply and easily. Re-working a piece of art into a new piece of work happens frequently in my practice. For example I have now in my studio a triangular white box with no lid (see fig 5.). Its starting point was two failed paintings. These have each been reduced down to their structure of a cardboard board, 80cm by 60cm, smothered in papier mache and linen. Using papier mache they have been stuck together at one side and made into a box. Currently my plan is to play around with the sides of the box and see what possibilities it has as a canvas with multiple sides.