I decided to ask Lee for some more of this reclaimed bear pit wood so that I could paint on it. He gave me lots of small bits of various sizes but all were square or rectangle shaped. I took these home and decided to paint them in a similar way to the earlier blocks. I decided not to size and prime these blocks as I wanted to see exactly what the difference was in the finished work compared with a sized and primed preparation.
I lined up all the little blocks along with my original three paintings for reference. Very quickly I painted all the blocks with a basic geometric abstraction approach. I had done this as I had decided I wanted to make something that was following the lines of my enquiry into Brutalism.
in a hour or so I had painted all the blocks and decided to leave them dry and apply a further layer later on.
[later on...] Once dried I then painted over a few areas that did not quite work. Some were a nit too gestural and I felt this distracted from the manufactured like feel of the blocks and consequently they needed a structured, man made type painting scheme to compliment them. Soon I had a large collection of blocks painted with the colours of Brutalism.
I really liked how these painted blocks looked when together. They had a kind of pseudo series quality about them. They had all these "serious" grey tones and unusual fluorescent colours that didn't really depict anything but seemed very much to be something.
I thought about what I was (if anything) going to do with these blocks no that they were finished. I am quite lucky in that ideas come very quickly and easily to me and I don't need to strain myself to get an idea of what to do. Time has also taught me that when I have decided to put a lot of effort into thinking about ways to progress ideas, new ideas do come but they never match the strength of the ones that come quick and easy. This has led me to have great confidence in the first creative ideas that come to me when I look for them.
Anyway, I decided to get a elongated landscape shaped frame from the shed and bring it to my work area and see what the shapes looked on it.
My initial idea was to nail some wooden struts to the wooden frame to create a simple lattice like arrangement on which I could nail and or glue these blocks to so as to create a kind of half Ben Nicholson half Kurt Schwitters "relief" type work. This really appealed to me as so often as an abstract painter I am deliberately "flattening" my works and removing all traces of perspective to emphasise the fact that I am making a "painting" and not another kind of art. However, at the same time I like to occasionally turn this approach on its head and play with perspective in a way that only painting really can, such as when I made the three coloured wood cut outs last semester.
This idea of a relief really appealed to me and it seemed very "not me" kind of work and I liked that. I place a few struts underneath the frame and started playing about with various combinations of blocks on blocks to get an idea of what I was going to do. This very physical approach is similar to the mental approach of making an abstract painting where one is evaluating possible "moves" in ones head before they decide what next mark or change to make to an uncompleted painting.
In a short while I had tried several combinations of blocks on the frame, all which I liked (but failed to photograph) then I had a realisation. The fun part of the process was the actual placing of the blocks and viewing the various configurations and then making a quick evaluation to see if one could make a more satisfying final result. Then I realised that the work should not be fixed onto a frame but be presented before a viewer so that they could take the role of "curator" if you like and use the blocks to create their own sculpture (rather than relief).
I instantly fell in love with this idea as it is quite removed from the more serious type of work I tend to to. It was also still painting but a very different kind of painting that incorporates many different artistic elements such as performance, sculpture and audience participation. Another aspect that really appealed to me (which most people would not be aware of and in turn that appealed to me even more) was that the wood that I used to create the blocks was taken from a pre-existing piece of art (the bear pit) so I effectively "recycled" some art into this new piece of art. However, when I present this new art piece in an environment where a viewer is able (allowed?) to make their own work and then the next viewer comes and makes a new piece of art again then the blocks are in a constant loop of recycling. The art is constantly being recycled into something new every time a viewer interacts with it. This really appeals to me and is the sort of thing that some artists would go to great lengths to ram down peoples throats but I like the idea of keeping these hidden concepts unspoken so that they are available for discovery by a discerning viewer. I see this as empowering the viewer and that is something I try to do to various degrees in work that I create.