mardi 28 juin 2011

Looking at the Overlooked.

Source. oil on wood. 140x120 cms.

Years ago now, Reaktion books published four essays on Still Life Painting, by Norman Bryson.

Today as I was re-reading it I came to this; Presentation, not representation: what is shown comes into being only inside the picture. The integrity and separate visibility of each dab of paint foregrounds the work of the brush in building the scene, over the scene itself. The thin application of pigment, and the fact that the canvas shows through in almost all areas (where it is not actually left blank) imply that we are able to follow all of the painter's stages of construction step by step, with nothing having been concealed. No erasure, everything that was painted remains on view.

Norman Bryson was talking about Cezanne and it just so happened that I had a reproduction of
a Cezanne landscape on the table, together with a Joan Mitchel and I felt that what he said applied in equal measure to them both.

The book is still in print.

mardi 14 juin 2011

A reading of Corot.

Untitled. oil on wood. 120x120 cms.

In a long article by Sarah Whitfield entitled A System of Vision, there is a passage which I find to be very pertinent in that it both describes a working practice and an interaction possible between the maker of and the viewer of a painting. Corot says, "I behave like a child blowing a soap bubble. It is very small but already round and he blows very softly until he is a afraid that it will burst."

The tension implicit in the idea of a painting ,(as Ms Whitfield says) inflated by a long slow exhalation of breath can be particularly apt. I like the idea of the work being inhaled; giving up
its delicacy slowly

vendredi 10 juin 2011

Painters' Table.

There is an excellent site with the above name: daily links to artists' blogs; art websites; criticism etc. Some will know of it already but for those of you who don't, I can recommend it.

jeudi 2 juin 2011

A Hard Singing of Country.

Shadow at the woods edge. 10:30 a.m.

From morning to evening. oil on canvas. 80x80 cms.

Nature is only an idea said Delacriox. Can we accept that landscape is not an object that exists but something created by our culture and our minds?

Landscape was once frightening, the place of dragons, bears, robbers, the unknown. To be travelled through in a carriage with the blinds drawn: too terrible to look at.

In feudal times landscape was a word in political usage, as donating land as belonging to a castle or a town. Later painters began to use the term in a more general sense unrelated to a specific feudal unit but simply as a beautiful landscape.

The word was then adopted by travellers and tourists who discovered beautiful landscapes everywhere which corresponded to those previously seen in paintings or had elaborated in the imagination. Writers described and constructed landscapes which had an even greater element of the universal: these were seductive in that readers could combine them with their own unpainted landscapes.

With these pictures and a sense of geography landscapes took on a new meaning, closer to the most ancient: landscapes are the defined places where we pass our holidays, landscapes are special then, but can pass from the timeless, charming, sweet remembered hills to an object of fashion and obsolescence.