Thursday, 29 June 2017

"Painting is a mysterious process, hovering strangely between a thought and a thing"

So said one of my favourite artists, Arthur Maderson.  And this resonates with me very strongly.  Painting can certainly be a mysterious process.  

Sometimes, when I look at the work of a painter who has produced a piece of work which many people would admire enormously because "it looks just like a photograph!", I don't feel any sense of mystery at all.....I can recognise the skill involved, but for me,  there is very little mystery when every i is dotted and every t is crossed.

So I like to hold onto the idea that marks made, in a painting, can indeed hover between a thought and a thing - or a thought, and reality.   Grabbing hold of that hovering, fleeting idea, and achieving it with paint, seems somehow special and unique and is something I will always aim for, even if I seldom achieve it.

Here are some images which DO achieve this mysterious quality.  The marks are MARKS, and I see them both as marks, and as marks which represent things  or ideas. 

This is one of Arthur Maderson's "looser" market scenes.  It is, on close inspection, more like the image one might see thro the lens of a kaleidoscope.  The marks are short, choppy and little more than straight fat lines....yet when you squint at the image, they coalesce into a hot, busy, light-filled market scene.  Hints of umbrellas, hints of shadows, hints of limbs and heads.  This hovers very much between idea and reality, between abstraction and figurative painting.  The more I look, the more I THINK I see.  I become aware that the foreground figure is glancing to her right, probably staring down at a table of goods.  Coming towards her is another woman, looking down too, perhaps pushing something into a bag. In the centre there seems to be someone holding up a child, perhaps?  Maybe yes, maybe no.   I am conscious of the light, and the atmosphere,  in the scene.   How this has been achieved with short, straight brushstrokes is a mystery to me.  But one I thoroughly enjoy.

Here is another, perhaps slightly easier to read:

It is as much a painting about the brightness of daylight illuminating the scene, as it is about a market.  Yet for me, it captures "market day" perfectly.  I do not need to know what the stallholder is selling by way of carefully painted detail.  I can get that from a photo any day.  Here, I see light, I see colour, I see bustle, activity, movement, I get a sense of time of day.  I can even feel the joy of the painter as he worked on those figures in the shade, figures made up of simple blocks of closely related tones, with just a hint of shape to "explain" them to us.  This is, to me, just delicious, like a scrumptious pack of licorice all sorts!  But with less of the black ones than usual!

And now for someone quite different ...and yet someone whose work also does the "hovering thing", providing me with that wonderful quality of mystery.  Peter Wileman.  

This image is called "The Gift of Light".  I know you will recognise that it is a seascape, that there is landscape, there is a headland,  boats, clouds. sun glinting on water...all sorts of physical "things" that you can relate to...but ...... if you had taken a photo of this scene, would it have looked like this?   If you had sat in front of the scene and created an image which was so true to reality that it looked like a photo, would it have had this magical quality?

I suspect not.  A photo may be stunning, so can a photographically-rendered image.  But will either offer surprises, or pose questions for you to answer? That is the magic of working with paint, when the paint, and the marks, even the colours, are allowed their own voice, and they speak in a language that the viewer doesn't always fully understand, but just simply appreciates on some difficult-to-verbalise level.

I am off to tackle some painting.  I plan to take a painting which has bugged me for some time, it is unsold,  lacking, somehow, the sense of light and colour I remember.    I am going to attack it with new vigour, keeping firmly in mind some of the ideas I have learned from these brilliant artists whose work I admire so very much.  Perhaps. with their help,  I will be able to bring my picture to life.  If I do, you will see it at some point, I will show "before and after" images.  Watch this space.

No comments:

Post a Comment

please feel free to leave me a message