Tuesday, 19 February 2013

'City of Glass 9 - Fiction & Fact' 120x200cms

The painting was resolved and the two sides pulled together when I put in the blue-grey drip/vertical in the right-side painting.  The drip stopped in the perfect position. Love the division line between the canvases and the power of the pink dot (which is no longer an attention seeker but an incident in the whole). The other dots/perforations were repainted to bring back their shape & clarity and reinforce the idea of the opened notebook. Curiously, by putting in the long blue/grey vertical there was no need to extend the pink horizontal from the left side into the right. The eye picks up and connects the existing horizontals and the repeated motif of the large rectangular block of Central Park. The eye is tricked, the large blue rectangle is not Central Park, (which is of course the large orange rectangle to the right). The blue/grey line is just enough to suggest a building and moving across the painting into the left-side, the orange rectangle of Central Park becomes an almost identical building ( the Twin Towers?) and the left side can be read as architecture/buildings/skyline- buildings that are there but not there.  The verticality of New York implied in the grid pattern of the streets. There is an interesting feel about this piece: scale, orientation/viewpoint are all subverted and ambiguous. Painted facts and painting truth derived from fiction.

The letters that spell T..H..E..T..O..W..E..R..O..F..B..A..B..E..L  are all there on the right 'Fact' side - map-truth (though it depends which map you are looking at), letters that are there but not there-looking for them turns the viewer into a detective. On the left 'Fiction' side, I had intended to transcribe the letters invisibly written by Stillman's walks, superimposing them on top of each other & spiralling around their start-point, the Hotel Harmony. However, once I put down the grid and the painting started to develop, this seemed unnecessary, with the off-straight purple line, the drip that misbehaved (and the missing cross-streets) providing the fiction.  I am certain the original idea will re-emerge in another piece with a simpler background.  There is a rawness about the paint on this side but this is tempered by the discipline of the grid.

There are links to the other paintings in the series, particularly 'City of Glass 2-Hotel Harmony' where a section of the Upper West Side, with the curve of Broadway, sits alongside Manhattan. Also 'City of Glass 4- Truthville N.Y' where the dot of Truthville balances on top of the Tower.   While Paul Auster's 'New York Trilogy' is the inspiration for the painting, I am also indebted to Mondrian - I have long admired the purity and beauty of his later works, their asymmetric balance and the exquisiteness of their execution. I can also see connections with some beautiful books made by artist Ruth McDonald, about her journeys in Cornwall and Kent, that I saw recently.

The next piece will explore Paul Auster's layers of identity. There will be a figure(!) -Stillman- who will be covered by six layers of human shadows of increasing size representing Max Work, (Quinn's fictional detective whose persona Quinn adopts on his assignment), William Wilson (the pseudonym Quinn uses for his detective fiction, Quinn himself,  author Paul Auster, myself, the artist and finally the viewer. Ideally, this piece to be lit in such a way that the actual shadow of the viewer is superimposed on the shadows in the painting.

Already I can see the shoulder of the figure jammed up alongside and following the curve of Broadway..............

I was looking for a description of Stillman in the novel for my painting - tall,white-haired, a long shabby brown overcoat and then today met some friends in Falmouth and Simon was wearing.............a long shabby brown overcoat. Took some pics..a perfect Stillman (not that Simon Bor is old or white-haired!). Strangely, I have used a similar figure before: on a red hot day on Blackpool promenade I saw an elderly gentleman in an overcoat, scarf and hat. I named him Harold Parkinson and he appeared in several paintings in the early eighties. Love these connections. 

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