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Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern

Off to London to see the Georgia O’Keeffe at the Tate.

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Just to set the visual scene….. I took a couple of photos yesterday that have spurred me to choose the particular O’Keeffe image above. This most monochrome version of the three “Black Place” landscapes on show in London sprang out at me from Google thismorning when preparing to set off for the show. I saved it. Then I saw it on my iphone photos, alongside this photo taken yesterday :-

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I think that it is unkanny how the brain makes associations and it’s great fun to unpick them. It’s not the whole story of making, but probably a more important one than I tend to give it credit for. The composition on this very industrial scene in Sheffield’s Don Valley taken yesterday clearly influenced my decision to pick that particular O’Keeffe painting above thismorning. I just didn’t realise until I saw them both together.

Here is another O’Keeffe image. I wonder if I can make it work back the other way?

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It’s a bit of a challenge this, and obviously not operating at the same unconscious level as the previous choice. Anyway I’ll give it a go…..

A bit contrived and the figures don’t add anything but it’s not unsuccessful:-

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What can a Prisma filter do? …..

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Hmnn, very much not an O’Keeffe, but maybe its got something going for it…..

In the meantime, this old painting of mine popped into my head:-

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I think that it has some of the organic elements of O’Keeffe’s works and also the large areas of colour. The whole thing is not really in the same class though, with the more textured flat areas and the slightly confused complexity in parts. Some of the tonal work has merit though and I need to think of that when moving on to painting (rather than blog rambling:)).


Having been around the exhibition now, I am struck by several things:-

She was a really good black and white artist whose drawings and subsequent painting drew heavily on photography and the influence of her partner at the time. Then later on her friend the photographer Ansel Adams. (Apart from her own photos of course).

Also she did a whole load of work based on buildings in New York:-

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So is my London architecture playfulness/experimentation perhaps so far off the mark?  Certainly the factory silhouette at the start of this blog could fit in quite neatly with some aspects of O’Keeffe’s vision. How about this photo from earlier today also?

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I really was struck by her responses to New York, but when it comes to it my response to London architecture (wonderful as it is in all sorts of ways)  is not to get excited about the idea of painting it. She lived in New York  I do not live in London.  I do live near the Don Valley factories though and I think that is the difference. The factories and silhouettes against the Don Valley light, move and inspire me and make me want to paint. London (fantastic as the late Summer light and architecture are) does not. So Georgia O’Keefe leads me confidently back to a place that matters.


She clearly had a much broader vision than the popular “sexuality metaphor” reputation that was promoted by her husband initially and then vociferously denied by her for decades afterwards.

I particularly liked the “Bones” paintings and think it is all well and good that they represent the beginnings of a partial iconography for 20th century America:-

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Much more than the narrow surrealist interpretation offered by some critics at the time. This is not Dali.


The importance of place is the thing though as I have hinted at earlier. It comes through with power and dignity in her work. Clearly this is what she is about to a huge extent. I was amused by her quote, “God promised me that if I painted the mountain enough times, then he would give it to me”. (Words to that effect).

So what does one take from this?

……in a few words, the importance of place, a confidence around abstraction, a boldness of colour, a sparing but necessary use of black, the power of painting in series and an unerring projection of personal emotions.

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IES

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This-evening at EIS

Took Dan here this-evening for sprint practise. This started as an experiment in uploading a video to the blog. (Obviously it links to you tube rather than being embeded in the website blog itself).

The still image link is quite interesting in that I see it as a potential painted image itself. The you tube experiment worked perfectly.

Still image and video sort of correspond with my dreamscape and narrative overlay idea I suppose. So the painting starts to move and as it becomes a video it takes on the story telling aspect mentioned earlier.

I still want to make paintings based around this though. Making a video is too easy. Setting up the creative context for the perfect detail within the tale as required in the kind of painting I mean is much harder.



 

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Dreams and Art

How do we use dreams in Art?

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“Allotment Sheds”: Oil on canvas

60″ x60″: Claytor 1982


Just been rooting through my old paintings for one that fits with this idea. Sheds, gardens, ramshakle structures etc.

The artwork is not really complete for the Aragorn tower dream yet though. I don’t want to create the impression that I am always having these super cathartic dreams that point the way foreward in both my creative and social life. Nevertheless, this was an absolute corker! ………

I’m sure I could do a very telling starter drawing for the idea. I have always been fascinated by barns and structures that serve the countryside and this dream nudges me a bit further and beyond just the stage set of all that.

This dream first needs analysing though. At least to the point where I can begin to outline some kind of narrative.

Keywords here are:-

Freud, tower, (ooher :)), release, responsibility, forgiveness, gardens, families, collapsed, nature, friendship, salvation, build.

I have always been struck by how really good narrative paintings are so nuanced. So that the representation of even the shortest tale can have a myriad different facets, depending on the point where one hitches up to the story.

Dream pictures such as those by Dali on the other hand are kind of fixed perspective illustrations that represent the idea behind the original dream. They might be more inclined to take on the keywords as a starting point and allow what Freud described as “secondary elaboration” to play its part. i.e. Speculation on its message via the complexity of symbolic meaning.

The narrative approach is perhaps more concerned with character and personality as expressed through the realism and staging of a particular point in the tale.

For myself then I do not willingly forgo any of the creative nuences. However, I admire some of the reflective stillness of the Surrealists. Their ability to create a stage set is unquestionable. My allotment piece above is perhaps in that catagory. The Summer aftenoon mood is perfect. Yet I (as the viewer) desire to fall asleep and dream in front of its stage to see what will happen. What are the tales of release and forgiveness that are told like an extra photoshop layer on the surface of my old painting?

So I hope you get the the two main paths that I have outlined here. The stage set and the nuanced narrative.

With a dream gift such as the one described in my previous blog, then maybe the obligation is to bring the two together. Not just the time and place illustration and not just the subjective character reponse in all its subtlety. But an overview containing some kind of real time google earth perspective that shows that ideal moment in perfect detail before allowing us to wake up.


Try this book for good measure:-

Freud: “The interpretation of dreams”