Sunday, 23 September 2012

In contemplation of monochromatic work

There is a simplicity in viewing things in black and white that is appealing. It certainly seems a way of looking at the world that is becoming increasingly popular, as divisions widen and positions harden between the haves and have-nots. From inside have-not camp, that division seems all the more obvious, however the opposite perspective is hard to see from here.

It would therefore be an easy assumption to make that the recent turn in my work, towards a monochrome palette, is a reflection of this viewpoint. To a certain extent this is true. The difficult political and financial situation that most of us find ourselves in, is something that is never far from my mind. It impacts on my daily life.

However the monochrome palette (which, of course, features endless shades of grey) is more of a reflection of my state of mind and how I feel most comfortable expressing it or, rather, what seems the most effective way of expressing it. The outer world is an influence on that, to be sure, but there is so much more than that, a tangle of cause and effect.

I am left with a desire to almost entirely eschew colour and even though I have on occasion introduced some, especially the orange hues that have been so integral to my work over the last few years, it hardly lasts beyond the initial sketching stages, obliterated soon after by a storm of graphite and various other dark and black pigments. Each new painting becomes a hard environment, where those small moments of colour are hammered and scraped and gouged into submission, or else simply buried under a layer of darkness.

I wrote last week about the ideas behind a few of my new pieces. In the middle of this week, I sat down with six of them, to contemplate the ideas behind them and to think about where this work is going, about what I am trying to achieve with it. I wanted to find out if the ideas and thoughts behind each piece would cohere into something greater. 

It was an overwhelming experience, almost painful. Clearly, I am too close to these paintings right now and found them too raw to contemplate as a whole. Individually, I can look at these pieces and think about them. I can even look at them collectively, as long as I don't look below the surface, read between the lines. When I do that, it is just too much and I see no overall plan.

Instead it appears that I am expelling these paintings from my somewhere within psyche. As if rather than working to a plan of sorts, I am just letting this work go where it needs to. It appears as if it is simply something that needs to happen. When one is writing automatically, the results at times can be quite challenging.

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