Monday, 14 April 2014

'City of Glass 20 - (Cage)'

'City of Glass 20 - (Cage)'    90x60cms

Stillman enters the cage formed by the grid of the streets where he walks - 'bounded on the north by 110th Street, on the south by 72nd Street, on the west by Riverside Park, and on the east by Amsterdam Avenue.' *

The cage also refers to Stillman's obsessions, the cage in his head. Perhaps my obsessions too, over 2 years of my life working on the series.......

A couple of crucial tweaks on Tuesday morning- a subtle vertical score down Stillman's back and a blob of blue paint on his left shoulder to lock him more into the painting, with the colour echoed, with a touch of green, in a the small square touching Central Park in the top panel. The dot of the Hotel Harmony on Broadway, on Broadway provides a visual link between the two. Formal painting truth - what works in the painting- and context in harmony.

I am very wary of my photo-realist roots, especially when painting the figure - the fallacy of the frozen moment. The introduction of the figure of Stillman has shaken the series up and presented me with intriguing problems, not least how not to make him giant when placed alongside the street grid of Manhattan. To counter this, I've tried to place him in an ambiguous space, a 'painting space', one that doesn't exist out there, one that asks questions - where is he?  He is standing on 72nd Street!  His 'illusionist' interpretation and position in the painting make you think you know what you are looking at but this is subverted, undermined, by the physicality of the paint and by the strong horizontal of the canvas divide and the subtle verticals that cut through his body. In this piece, the grid is also ambiguous- it's vertical, lifted from the background, an almost-delicate lattice you can put your hand through.... the bars of Stillman's cage.  At one point in the painting the grid covered him - he was in the cage- the idea was rejected, it will only work if he faces outwards, staring at the viewer........

* from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

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