Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Farewells and Some New Year's Optimism

I only learned yesterday of the death of Helen Frankenthaler on December 27th last year, aged 83.  Yet another of the great Modernists has left the world; and we have the rich legacy of her work to be thankful for. 

Following on from Jackson's dripping and pouring technique, Helen's soft stainings are often attributed to the development of the Colour Field school, as my good friend Matt Lyon says, she led and the guys took over.  What I admired about her paintings is that, as Michael McNay expressed in his obituary in the Guardian of Wednesday 28th December 2011  "Painting became once again, as in many of its best periods, an insitinctive coalition of hand and eye and controlling intelligence."  Something I totally subscribe to in my own work and as with Helen, I am not that interested in theory for its own sake either, especially new theory! 

In my opinion, theory is in danger of strangling the life from art making.  So often recently I have been to shows where the writing that supports the work is more interesting than the art itself and this is terribly wrong.  I have no quarrel with art theory really, but I hold strongly the opinion that the physical quality of the art itself should arrest the viewer, make them stop in front of it and consider it for more than a few seconds.  If, however, the writing that supports the art holds the viewer's attention for longer than the art itself, then the artist has failed.  Does anyone reading the above have a response to this?

Rant over, RIP Helen and thanks for some wondrous paintings and prints.

While I am in reflective mood, here's thanks also to other artists of greatness who died recently:Dennis Oppenheim, John Hoyland, Stephen De Staebler, Leonora Carrington Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, Richard Hamilton, John Chamberlain.

Sketch book work: The Departed, Dec2011/Jan 2012, graphite

As above

Large drawing, The Departed,  4.1.12.  Graphite on Arche paper

Detail, large drawing, The Departed, graphite on Arche paper

Detail, large drawing, The Departed, graphite on Arche paper

I am now looking forward to the work in hand for this year; preparing for my solo show, researching a bit and writing some essays and reviews.  I am optimistic about my own work despite that fact that I may have some problems with studio space due to building work that starts in March at our house.  I some how know that things are going to be ok in the end!  This year is about making new work, not worrying about showing and generally settling, finally, after a long hard 6 years' hiatus, into a proper work ethic and routine. 

Happy new year to all who read this!

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