Thursday, September 30, 2010

mimesis nemesis

mimesis, the old Greek concept of copying. The thought was that art was mimesis, it copied nature. Art could invent nothing. Its an old debate.
But in the stream of what I am working on, its a reference to the copying or almost miming of stories and history which one tells in social interactions. I "copy and paste" stories into a conversation from my memory.
When one is faced with explaining about yourself... telling about who you are and not just peripheral framework regarding yourself... one is faced with the rather large question about how you portray who you are. Do you under state in the belief that the cultural system of the audience is able to process understatement? Or do you inflate and colour the story for effect, knowing that the listeners will desaturate the story as with most media they come into contact with. (one hopes!)
The way one loads meaning into or onto the verbal picture you create is so easy to miscalculate and change the true nature of the point you are making.
In this image, a billboard style picture of myself,I present myself as a face one would find on a sideshow advert. Its the well worn sign board that is put out to attract the curious to come and see the freak show, the bearded lady, the tattooed man, the lizard creature. I have a single rhino horn growing from my forehead. Rhinos are pretty dangerous and lack good eyesight, they tend to rush in horn first, ready to gore any shadow, more bluff than lethal intent.
Its also a reference to the famous self portrait of Albrecht Durer in which he presents himself as a sophisticated gentleman, his long hair in carefully painted ringlets.
The halo.... so many people unconsciously want the artist to be fired into creativity by the Furor Divinus...divine madness... as though its a fragment of greatness or a touchstone of magical power. This is my worn and damaged and rather tacky halo which is worn on ceremonial occasions only. Hoarknockle dragged it out of the vault for this performance. Specially.
The whole surface of the image will be degraded and aged and faded to make it look old and worn. Rather a has been billboard.
The surprise will lie in the center of the work...which is in fact two narrow doors that hinge in the middle of the piece.
On the narrow faces of the two edges that meet when the hinges are closed, will be painstakingly painted insects against a dark background... once again a reference to the concept of Vanitas...the insects taken from 17th Century still lifes.
But thats still not there...for now its the billboard..getting older by the minute.. paint peeling and flaking off.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

pittsburgh entry

a brief flurry of urgency in the studio as I rushed to get this ready for shipping to the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators exhibition.
This is a work I originally created digitally to explore the concept of packing and unpacking as a metaphor for telling stories. The idea of blackbirds escaping from a baked pie is wonderful and has the magical and surprising quality I look for.
These birds are packed in boxes along with various other references to them and what they do.
I printed the piece on watercolour paper and pasted it to a thin sheet of plywood, sanding off the corners to emulate the way old photos are worn away, corners go missing and they develop all kinds of irregular shapes.
The frame is built to look like the top of an old box, now opened, showing some of the wooden slats that closed it and nails where the wood would have been broken away. Beneath the main picture are a few other old papers as though this would have been a box containing old memorabilia and now opened to reveal a picture of birds in boxes. The frame and wooden parts are made from old cedar fence boards al grey and broken down from years of being outdoors.
I took a brush to the digital print and added some darker areas and highlights and glazed it to add depth.
What I like and aim for is the contrast between the dry aged wood and the satiny glow from the picture inside it.
Like stories told, there are all kinds of unexpected revelations that emerge in the narrative. You find out things from places and people you often least expect it from. They have been packed away in boxes for years.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

gun again

just a short posting.
Mostly finished the two pieces I have been working on and have been doing a lot of glazing and over glazing...slow going.
There are so many things that rob one of time to paint.
Its interesting to me that my grandfather, Johannes B Wessels, had to sign a paper promising allegiance to the British Crown after the cessation of Boer War hostilities. In becoming a Canadian citizen I too had to pledge allegiance to the British Crown. After all these years!
The rifle barrel is the front end of the rifle trigger...the more business-like end of the tool. I have often wondered at whom it may have been pointed and if it ever found its mark. Sobering thought.
These pictures have had numerous layers of over glazes to develop the depth of darkness and colour I was striving for. Its slow going but it certainly does achieve results.
The other pieces I am working on are all in such an early phase that it seems pointless to show a bare piece of wood.

Friday, September 17, 2010

empty space

rather like waking from a coma, and not quite knowing where you are in space and time. Having just arrived back from installing my youngest son in university, a week of preparation and driving and making sure he is okay.
I walk back into the studio and feel like I have suffered a brief spell of amnesia, the pictures look familiar but I feel I need to re-establish my connection with them, slightly awkward.
Hoarknockle (Why did I want to call him Horseradish?) is away visiting his sick auntie (I suspect there is a comely niece or cousin once divided, erm I mean removed, who may be hovering there). This means that I am currently living a life devoid of ethanolic joys as I cannot seem to find the wine cellar. Lets call it amnesia.
This has allowed me a giant stride in my work. I have taken up the brush again, a heroic moment. Now if only I can remember what one does with it.
My eldest son has returned from hunting tigers...or whatever it is the young men do nowadays. He is thin as a rake and has an extraordinary preoccupation with bicycles and Belgium. He intends to go peddling in Tobago... not quite sure what he'll be peddling. As long as he isnt trying to sell off the cars..... or my wine collection. Oh correction... pedaling.
Here are the most recent iterations of my work too.
The large painting featuring Sir Cornelis is almost done.I added parts of a rifle to it The red phone is coming along and is part of something more. The Cuca refers to a Portugese beer "Cuca" which was sold in Angola and after which illegal drinking places were named during the South African Angolan war. I found the bottle cap during a sojourn in Angola.