Friday, 24 January 2014

'City of Glass 16- (Private Eye)' 200 x 100 cms

It's exciting when everything comes together and a solution is found from both within the painting and from outside.  I have in front of me something that surprises me, something I cannot yet fully explain or understand but feels right and complete. I sat in my chair, looking at the painting, thinking of tinkering with the concentric circles at the top, and worried that by strengthening them, making them more like an image of an eye, I would draw attention away from the intersection of the canvases. All sorts of thought appeared simultaneously: I thought of crosshairs and targets and how in the novel, there is a strong possibility that Quinn is a target, a set-up, a victim in a fiendish experiment, that ends in the apartment on E69St. I thought of Georgia O' Keeffe's fantastic 'New York Street with Moon' that I found doing research for the recent 'circle' workshop in Canterbury.  So that is all I did- I drew the large concentric circles centred on the main axis, with  brush, nail, and string, representing both the eye and a target and within the painting, creating focus and strangeness and although faint, the perfection of the circle, pushes the map-shape of Manhattan, already fragmented, further into the background. And of course there is the visual link with Columbus Circle and the circles at the top.

I am going to continue with the idea of 'building' tower-shaped canvases, 'a tower that is there but not there'.  In this piece, the tower can be considered 'unsolid', transparent, made of glass.......

'New York Street with Moon'  Georgia O'Keeffe

Thursday, 23 January 2014

'City of Glass 16 - (Private Eye)' update, Thurs 23 Jan

Nearly there - one more session I think. Bad day yesterday, trying too hard after getting the rejection e-mail from John Moores 2014.  

The colours are starting to work on the right, with some new purple-greys and more intense greens and the switch from red to pink.  Love the reverse 'Z' towards the top. The top panel felt separate- it's now connected by the extension of the central vertical of Park Ave ending with concentric circles, which suggest the eye and repeat the motif of Columbus Circle. Maybe the 'eye' is too subtle, could be the glare from the lights. It was more graphic earlier, more of an image, maybe too powerful, the all-seeing eye.  I'll re-draw tomorrow, and make a decision on it's strength within the painting.

The novel is Quinn's story, the writer of detective fiction who becomes a detective. At the beginning of the story, Quinn muses on the triple meanings of the term Private Eye: 'i' for investigator, 'I' for the self, and 'eye' for the 'physical eye of the writer, who looks out from himself into the world and demands that the world reveal itself to him'.  The intersection of the main axis is the location of the Stillman apartment, where Quinn's life/role as a private eye begins and ends..... 

In a homage to Quinn (and author Paul Auster), the painting is now called 'City of Glass 16 - (Private Eye)'

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Saturday, 18 January 2014

In progress- 'City of Glass 16 - (1 block = 1 brick)'


'City of Glass 16'   210 x 120cms

Early days for new City of Glass* painting - but now going through the gears with longer sessions in the studio. Still trying to establish the scale of Manhattan and position of Central Park.  The only certainty is the central axis of 69th St and Park Ave, the location of the Stillman apartment, with the divide leading the eye down to Grand Central Station.  It's too fragmented, everything needs to be simplified, including the colour-scheme. The grid pattern of the streets will be extended over the entire canvas forming the bricks of the tower shape. There may be a tiny figure of Stillman exiting the painting in the bottom left corner.

Music has been driving the painting: Neil Young's After the Goldrush and Sleeps with Angels with the epic Change your Mind and Closer by Joy Division: ' you can't replace the fear and thrill of the chase...' Sums up painting really.

* from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster


Monday, 13 January 2014

'City of Glass 15- (Stillman walks.....)' 50x40cms

This is the smallest painting yet in the New York Trilogy series. It's always a problem going from big to small - there is no room, no space! - but I think that problem has been resolved. 
In this painting I returned to the idea of how to place both the figure of Stillman and the map-shape of Manhattan in the same painting, without Stillman appearing giant.  The painting started with Stillman in a gallery, walking past a painting containing the Manhattan shape ('City of Glass 1') but the verticality, which has been a constant throughout the series, was missing. I think the solution above is far more intriguing and ambiguous.  The vertical grid on the right is a specific section of the Upper West Side. As 'detective' Quinn discovers, Stillman's daily walks, (where he invisibly writes the letters that spell T.H.E.T.O.W.E.R.O.F.B.A.B.E.L.) are all within 'a narrowly circumscribed area, bounded on the north by 110thSt, on the south by 72nd Ave, on the west by Riverside Park, and on the east by Amsterdam Avenue. No matter how haphazard his journeys- and each day his itinerary was different- Stillman never crossed these borders' *
Next painting: 'City of Glass 16 - (1 block = 1 brick)', investigating again the enormous scale of the new Tower of Babel in New York, which would be 'large enough to hold every inhabitant of the New World'.*
*Paul Auster  'The New York Trilogy'