Continuing studio work

Now that the excitement of the Unnatural Selection project is dying down a bit its time to get back into the studio and concentrate on the paintings. Im working on a series of paintings that combines a number of elements. Chance compositions of basic shapes, contrasting with tightly defined colour variables. Natural wood grain contrasted with high value colour, and also contrasting linear spatial depiction with the flattening effects of flat unmodulated colour. These are not new interests and relate to the previous paintings, such as ‘every witch way’ and the ‘box of blocks’ paintings.

Block busters in progress

One feature of these paintings is the use of gloss paint. Of course I have already mentioned about the luscious qualities of the colour of gloss paint, but there are two other aspects that may be worth mentioning, most importantly how it relates to space and also, given his exhibition is on at the moment, what if any influence has come from Gary Hume.

Pointy in progress

The reflective surface of gloss paint, fights against the illusion of space in painting. Flattening the surface of the picture. In the earlier blocks paintings this was one of the pre-occupations. How could I make flat areas of colour win out over linear perspective and appear flat… thats sounds bonkers… in other words who do I stop someone seeing a cube as a cube and make them see three flat connected four-sided shapes instead. This was a battle I was losing. Perspective always won. But maybe the flatness of gloss paint will help. I think one of the more interesting things about ‘every witch way’ was the illusion of depth, shaded areas and shadow, painted in flat gloss. So this could be something to explore more. Perhaps going back to optical demonstrations or perhaps doing something representational, if I can be sure the object wont distract from the perceptual readings of the paintings.

Every Witch Way 1 May 2013 Gloss paint on Plywood dimensions variable 1.2 m at max

Now, I have yet to visit the Gary Hume exhibition (or the that matter the Caufield exhibition, which I am equally excited about). In fact, I really don’t know a huge amount about the works beyond their appearance in magazines and reproductions. So I will write more when I have seen them. However, I have to admit that it can’t just be a co-incidence that I have started using gloss around the same time as there is a big Gary Hume retrospective on. I don’t think its been a conscious choice, but I guess most influence is unconscious anyway. I am a big fan of his hospital door series. In my mind, and maybe not in Gary Hume’s, it combines the dry academic austerity of Albers square series with something, more luscious and pop. Then of course there is the life and death significance of the hospital doors as well. However, for Albers, spatial illusion generated by colour and texture differences was key. I think there is this quality to Hume’s hospital paintings but it has been made a bit part, vying with many other readings for the viewers attention. So I am not sure whether the flattening quality of gloss is a key concern for Hume. In the works I am aware of there doesn’t seem to be a concern with space. In fact the concerns are dominated by a sort of iconic nature of the motifs, flowers, heroes etc. As I say more when I have had a chance to see the exhibition…

By the way there will be more project work soon, talks are in progress for a sneezing project and a digitised version of the Unnatural selection project (among other possibles), both dealing with issues of autonomy and authorship.


About Phil Lambert

Visual artist based in Cardiff
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