Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'City of Glass 22 - (Cleave)' thoughts....

This is a strange piece...I have been looking again at the paintings in isolation and have concluded that while working as a pair, they both work individually ... they were made that way.  I only put the paintings together when a friend took this photo and then I began to see them as a pair with a 'cleave' within each painting and also between them which I think adds an exciting additional dimension. As a pair the power of the face is diminished, both because of its smaller proportion within the whole but also because of the power of the divide between the two paintings.

The painting(s) have divided opinion and provoked thought, in particular the painting with the face. I had a great discussion with staff and students from Canterbury Christchurch University, exchanging ideas, analysis and possibilities for the piece. Even during our drawing session in Charlestown and in the pub after, the conversation continued so I guess the piece has had an impact which is no bad thing. 

There have been comments about whether the face works at all, whether it belongs, whether it is too strong, too graphic, too out of kilter with the rest of the series. Also how disturbing the face and the stare are. This is intentional: this is the face of Stillman, the man who locked up his 2 yr old son in a dark room for 9 years in a deranged experiment to discover the language of God.
So, to conclude, I think I can and shall, show the paintings individually or as a pair. This duality is delicious: after all in the novel, in his thesis* Stillman discusses the dual meaning of 'cleave', to both break apart and put together.

I have long been an admirer of Richard Diebenkorn and Mondrian and the 'City of Glass' series owes a debt to their work (not too much I hope!). Mondrian is hot news at the moment with two current shows. I have just read a  review of the Mondrian and His Studios at Tate Liverpool, where Waldemar Januszczak talks about the connections between Mondrian's abstraction and his membership of the cult of Theosophy, where universal order is explained 'as a balance between horizontal lines, representing the female force, and vertical lines representing the male force, enclosed in a circle'.

Fascinating stuff. There is also a 'Mondrian and Colour' exhibition on at Turner Contemporary in Margate which I'll have to check out when I'm down in Canterbury in a couple of weeks.

Open Studios has now finished and I'm back in the garage, now even smaller with the arrival of the new work. There are another couple of new paintings in the series, including a red study of Peter Stillman (the son), that I can't yet post having dropped my camera.  It's been a great 3 weeks at the Shire Hall Gallery in Bodmin - big thanks to Wendy and the team for letting me and Janie M McDonald take over the space and to all the visitors who came.

* P:43, 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster.

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