Friday, 21 March 2014

'City of Glass 19 - (Park Avenue)' 200x60cms

It's been a good week- I have a new painting and City of Glass 6 & 13 have been shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Fingers crossed.

The third tower-shaped painting in the City of Glass series. The shift in this piece is that the verticals of the avenues extend beyond Manhattan to the edges of the canvas: the grid of the streets connecting to the grid of the building. I am enjoying the verticality and the subtle rhythms of angles and triangles around the painting but most of all I am enjoying the colour, the new blues and greys and reds.  There are intriguing shifts in perception: what am I looking at? The view from the air, the view on the ground, an incredible giant tower, bigger than Manhattan. Is it one image or two? Is the tower solid or transparent, made of glass?  Is the image of the island shape of Manhattan seen through the tower, or is it in front of the tower,  or part of the tower, or outlandishly, painted on the tower like a giant mural? I think it is a new kind of space, slightly disorientating...

In spite of the colour, the tower- the new Babel- is oppressive, which is what I want. It has the feel of the tower of the Salvation Army training camp in Camberwell - maybe it is because there are no windows!

For a long while there was no title, which always worries me: it's an indication that I didn't yet know what the painting is about. Because of the emphasis on the verticals, towards the end the favourite was 'The Vertical City'. This changed when I put in Washington Square with a fantastic pink made from Fanchon Red by Williamsburg Paint - at one point this small rectangle was the strongest thing in the painting, not just the colour but also all the lines firing in.  But even this couldn't compete with the long red stripe against the blue, a colour heaven that grips the eyes.  

My daughter Faye said it was her favourite painting in the series. She immediately zoomed in on the saturated colours flanking Park Avenue, confirming the choice of title. (Park Ave is also, of course, significant to the novel*). Denise was missing a particular blue that had been mainly painted out and she wanted it back! I went back in the studio and added some more blues, especially to the bottom canvas, and it's made a big difference.  Thank-you girls!  Ollie likes the vertical lines carved into the paint.

The soundtrack for the painting was 'Five Leaves Left' by Nick Drake. Beautiful.

* 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster.

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