Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Worlds Apart". {a postcard from Down Under}

“I love irony and that is evident in your work - but in the irony is also sadness and reflection which is born from deep thought” - Jennifer Groome.

Breathe out.
It arrived.

It’s always a bit of a worry, sending original art overseas.
Particularly when the work is winging its way from Southern Australia to Verona, Italy.

Such was the case with a recently completed canvas I had titled “Worlds Apart”, a literal reference to it’s destination in some respects, although the title had its origins in a more metaphorical analogy of choice, difference and balance.
Did I say metaphorical analogy? I think I’m just about ready to write that new artist statement hehe..

It’s a long story but this painting was a commissioned work for someone who has taken great interest in my art practice during the last few years, and I was keen for it to arrive safe and sound. After some initial postal tracking confusion, I’m happy to say the work now hangs safely in the home of its new owner Jennifer, her husband Tarcisio and daughter Sophia.

I have known Jennifer for some time now. I originally created the gig poster for a band she was in called “Doppio Malto” and in recent times she has done a cracking job of recording some prose of mine, a side project I am still working on.
Some months ago her husband Tarcisio granted her a birthday wish of purchasing one of my oil on canvas works.

It’s kind of a small world you know.
I mean, this whole networking and friendship forming phenomena reminds me so much of a time when I was about thirteen years old receiving pen friend postcards in the mail from Europe.
This time the picture on the postcard becomes a link to many more pictures from an image gallery and the scribbled text on the reverse side of the postcard has metamorphosed into globe trotting short messages or email.
It’s fascinating and at once astonishing how we can now communicate with people across the country and around the globe, and although I now take it for granted, it still amazes me how far we have come.
But I digress.

I wanted to post this painting earlier but needed to wait until it was in the hands of it’s new owner.. why spoil the surprise right?

The best thing about this private commission was that there were no conditions. Jen made it clear early on to “paint it for yourself, don’t email me any work in progress images.. and then post the painting to me” so that’s precisely what happened and it became a joy to complete.
That’s not always the case with commissioned work and it brings me to another point about the difference between selling artwork as a private commission versus gallery sales from an exhibition of your own work.

In my experience there is quite a lot of anonymity involved in who is buying your work from a gallery. I don’t include all galleries in this but the buyers identity are kept at arms length it seems.
I suspect the gallery does this to protect themselves from artists approaching these people outside of the gallery (for further or future sales avoiding gallery percentage on sale fees). I can understand that. They are a business and I respect that also, but I still like to know who is buying my work and why.

Believe it or not this infatuation with creating art isn’t about money. I’m not selling time, effort and materials in my work.. it’s not craft… I’d like to think people are not only buying something of aesthetic resonance or investment value but also a real creative component. Something of me.

In a response to the arrival of her new painting Jennifer wrote “I have a piece of your imagination in my home Leith, that is how I feel about it" and further it contains so many references to your other work which I have always admired”.

Unless you are speaking to buyers or art enthusiasts on exhibition opening night, feedback is few and far between once your work is sold. I’m not talking about ego stroking but genuine feedback and an interest in what it is that people like in your work enough to purchase it.

Maybe it says more about the person buying an artists work but it really means so much more when you know the buyer connects to your work, and in this case the buyer clearly has.

The Jack in the Box has a very sad face Leith, almost as if the two worlds he is holding up are a burden to him. He doesnt want to go back into his box actually. He could have been a smiling person, but he isn’t and this makes him even more interesting. 

The little bird - his alter-ego, or his friend, wants to fly away and could but chooses not to because he wants to simply stick around. Seeing that bird really made my heart jump because I knew then that your heart had gone into this painting - I love it when that bird pops up in your work. And the allusion to the music - to the piano. Which is where he now lives in my music room, so that is just perfect of cours”.

 “Sophia says the Jack in the Box is sad because of the two worlds he is holding he does not know which one to chose and his eyes are fixing the beholder almost desperately trying to find an answer to that question. Which world does he want - the coloured one or the greyscale one”.

I’ll take this opportunity to explain a little about those two worlds.
Around the time I was painting this Jack in the Box image I was also working on some digital logo work. It was all greyscale stuff and the decision making was more to do with font choice, dimension and form.
It was so liberating to leave that work every now and again and work on the painting. Pushing actual paint around a canvas with a brush and being seduced by so much colour. It was like respite from that other stuff. Worlds apart.

That is the genesis of where the two dangling temptuous worlds of colour, tone and choice come from.. me working on other mediums and it then feeding itself back into the piece I was painting.
Whether it’s colour or greyscale, I’ll always waltz between the two. Painting and drawing, charcoal and brush, computer and canvas, love and insanity.

Elaborating on her new painting Jen continues:

Much art that I admire, and maybe this is because I am a simple little soul, contains wonderful colour. I love Paul Klee for example - just like I also admire other types of art, Bauhaus, post expressionism, pop art - and I find modern art more fascinating than old Rembrandt or Constable, or even Joseph Wright from Derby - who painted light like no one else.
Paul Klee loved colour too. But even more than that, like you and me he was a musician at heart and his musicality, in my opinion, comes out in his work - as it does yours. It is not easy to describe how it does, it just does. I suppose it is a certain feeling of liberation and exploration.
But I am not going to rabbit on about Paul Klee now...although I will just say that he abandoned his music because he found the music around him, the so called successful music of his particular time, banal and uninteresting. He could be living in todays society with our modern bland music - he would hate it. Art libertated him, music trapped his creativy.

Henri Matisse said that to me this evening Leith - he came round for a beer bless him, Picasso, his mate had just left..

Thankyou Jennifer. Thankyou for reminding me of the value in what lies beneath the paint and the recognition by some of what has been woven within it.

It’s a pity I missed Henri and Pablo you know. We could have painted the town red.

It’s a good day for art..
Breathe in.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Music to my Ears.

One of my little pleasures over the last few years has been sharing music with people from around the globe.

Every now and then I post off a collection of tunes on CD  to a friend, and in return enjoy some of the music that inspires, enlightens or simply shakes the ass of the person sending it.
These friends are mostly artists, musicians or writers.
Some I have met, others not. All of them different but all sharing this inherent ability to choose music that informs, ignites and inspires.

Music like art, consumes me.
Subconsciously I use it to both fuel my thoughts on conception for a painting and consciously as a backdrop or soundscape during the physical act of painting. The two and fro from the canvas, the sitting, the looking and the sitting again.

I wouldn't say I have an eccentric taste in music but I guess it does lean towards eclectic at times in that I follow what strikes my own chord, and for the most part that doesn't usually turn out to be what is popular, or charting or whatever they call it these days.
I don't listen to a lot of radio or watch a lot of TV and it's just getting harder to find "my" music on traditional media so instead I enjoy the pleasure of discovery through music press, friend recommendations and some trusted online music sites and blogs.

So, I wanted to share with you an example of one such musical gift that arrived in the mail recently, and that is a beautiful compilation of music from my friend “Nasty” Nigel Lawrence of Melbourne.

Nigel is a musician himself and has a deft touch when it comes to sniffing out incredibly interesting music. This time it is in the genre of reggae in which he is well versed. 
Nigel has an amazing record collection (both vinyl and CD) and thankfully he took some time out to put this together for me.

Well this is where I leave it folks, it’s the painting hour and I’m itching to hit the play button on the latest Nasty offering..

For the record, here’s the play list Nigel sent me, and to the man himself.. thanks mate!

1. Moving to the Top - Don Carlos
2. Champions of Arena - Jackie Mittoo
3. Mind made Up - Mikael Rose
4. Our day will Come - Heptones
5. Silhouette - Dennis Brown
6. Upside Down - Joe Higgs
7. Rudeboy Shufflin - Israel Vibration
8. Sponji Reggae - Black Uhuru
9. Rumours - Gregory Isaacs
10. Pick up the Pieces - The Royals
11. Thin Line - BB Seaton
12. Hot Milk - Jackie Mittoo
13. Never found a Girl - Cornell Cambell
14. When you are Wrong - The Royals
15. You will never Find - John Holt