Since the start of the degree my practice has covered many disciplines including printing, sculpture and photography but increasingly my focus has been the medium of painting. Within this discourse I have covered many styles from representation through to various levels of abstraction then on to full non-objectivity. I feel that painting offers the greatest chance to explore my artistic vision. An understanding of the material properties of paint, its application and a strong aesthetic judgement are among the reasons I choose to paint. I believe that no other medium offers the same flexibility or the immediacy of being able to capture a thought or feeling instantly.
So far this year I have approached my practice with a strong emphasis towards experimentation which has challenged my familiar working methodology. This has included creating short films, making plaster reliefs, mixed media drawings and creating 3D objects that challenged accepted categorisations of painting and sculpture. I also abstracted visual information from found photos; this informed the construction of geometric wooden forms that I then chromatically painted. These experiments have taught me the importance of stepping outside of my usual working practice.
The summer break was spent visiting many exhibitions but I was particularly influenced by the end of year shows at Slade and Central Saint Martin’s. I use exhibitions such as these as a yardstick to compare and contrast my own art against. The work displayed seemed to have an increased focus on the materialistic concerns of painting. Unstretched canvases were dyed, sewn together and hung, found objects used as supports, various objects used to create collages as well as cross stitched and knitted “paintings”.
I have been influenced by writers and critics such as Laura Hoptman, Walter Robinson and Jan Verwoert. Hoptman argues that we live in an age of Atemporality so the role of painting today is to interrogate the “isms” of the past so we can make sense of the past 100 years. Robinson states “In our Postmodernist age, “real” originality can be found only in the past, so we have today only its echo” but also warns us of the rising tide of “Zombie Formalism”. Verwoert has identified the outstanding negative influence of Conceptualism on today’s artists and calls for a greater focus on creating work rather than overly conceptualising the work before its even begun. Writers such as the above have made me question exactly what purpose painting has today and exactly should we be painting. I have also visited exhibitions and researched into painters such as Charlene von Heyl, Matt Connors, Varda Caivano, etc. Artists who are all fully aware of the current concerns in painting and who’s work can be seen as an investigation into debates.
During the second semester I plan to take an in depth look into Brutalist Architecture. I am fascinated by the aesthetic qualities such as large geometric forms, variety of textures and muted colour pallet. My interest also lies in how brutalism has impacted on society. I grew up next to a large, notorious, concrete housing estate in East London during the 1980’s, consequently I have firsthand experience of the negative impact estates like this had on local communities. Society’s response to Brutalism today is either “love it or hate it” and the ambiguity of this relationship appeals to me greatly.
I will visit Brutalist style buildings and developments in and around London where I will undertake onsite visual investigations through sketching, photography, film and note taking. This will be backed up with literary research into essays and articles on Brutalism as well as books written by or about the main proponents such as Le Corbusier, Ernö Goldfinger and Sir Basil Spence. I am also interested in its influence within the arts so will investigate the films of Andrea Arnold, books such as “High Rise” by J G Ballard and also artists such as Assemble/Simon Terrill and The Independent Group (Magda Cordell, Nigel Henderson, Eduardo Paolozzi etc.)
My source material will aid in the production of a body of work that will include printing, photography and video but there will be a strong bias towards painting and drawing. I hope to stretch perceived limitations of painting by extensive experimentation with supports and unconventional use of painted medium. These materialistic properties are of great interest to me and other contemporary painters. I will interrogate traditional use of supports by layering surfaces together on the frame then removing and/or cutting into layers to reveal what’s beneath. The use of transparent supports will be investigated as this will allow lower layers to come through with a ghostly presence.
Recent experimentations with mixed media such as acrylic and watercolour paints, dry and wax pastels, graphite, charcoal and ink will continue as will experimentation with oil, household and Flashe® paints. Materials such as cement, sand, filler as well as acrylic mediums will be used and evaluated for their abilities to provide texture.
I do not have a set budget but I need to be mindful of costs for extra materials and transport expenses needed for gathering source material and visiting exhibitions. I already have a large quantity of art materials but this made need replacing when things run out but also updating when I wish to purchase and try new materials.
I will need a firm grasp on time management skills during this project as I will continue running my own business. This is essential as I need to maintain a level of income to pay household bills as well as funding any additional costs incurred during the project.
Exhibitions such as “Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015” at ICA The Mall, “Tightrope Walk: Painted Images After Abstraction” at White Cube Bermondsey, and “Lesley Vance” at Herald St will be visited. These will be followed with regular visits to galleries and exhibitions that feature artists (particularly painters) who are active now.