Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Thoughts on Rothko's restored painting and creative channelling

Study for painting, The Departed series

The above link takes you to the Tate short film about the restoration of the Rothko painting, one of the paintings from the Seagram Murals series, which was damaged with graphiti ink over a year ago.

I have books on Abstract Expressionism in my personal library and a couple on Rothko.  It is a long time since I have been able to look at them because they have been in strorage for most of the time since I moved up to N Yorks nearly nine years ago.  They have only just recently been unpacked and placed reverently on a shelf.  I have not looked at any Rothko paintings, whether in reproduction in my books, or at Tate for a very long time.

It was, therefor quite an experience to watch this video and to be reminded of the beauty, presence and majesty of the works.  I was also quite taken aback; I realised during the film, that quite innocently and unintentionally, my recent drawings and paintings have reflected and connected with the obelisk shapes that Rothko used. Now, I am not so stupid as to suppose that all art can possibly be completely original, and these connections between artists works happens a lot.  What took me by surprise is the fact that I had been unaware of my connection/reflection of the Rothko motif.  In my whirring mind as I continued to watch the film, I realised that this was probably subliminal, that because of such a long lay off caused by ill health when I moved here, I was not engaging much in art or art history but that my subconcsious was probably playing a part in the making of my recent works.  

I should add here that the recent works of which I speak are not pastiches of Rothko; they are quite different; it is the connection to them that I have been reminded of that has taken me aback. The connection in some way pleases me even as it worries me in the sense that now that I am aware of it, I need to beware of allowing my work to veer too near towards Rothko's motif or characteristics.  I am not flattering myself here; just writing my thoughts down honestly as I discuss and try to make sense of what I have just experienced during the watching of the above video mere minutes ago.  (My good friend Matt Lyon, who is a very successful graphic artist just told me on facebook that we cannot escape creative channelling!)

Rothko's great works communicate so profoundly because of the humanity they reflect back at us, I think. His works deal with the great and timeless subject of our own mortality, the human condition. When I first began my recent series of work, which I am still developing, at the very end of 2012, I was thinking about my own mortality having had to confront it during my illness, as well as the then recent deaths of four of my best friends. So the passage of time, the human condition and ideas of memory and loss began to emerge as the theme of my work; the obelisks within my initial drawings represented the people I had so recently lost.  It is not so surprising that I should find that I have a connection with other artists given that this is probably the greatest theme in all the arts there is!

What has surprised me so much is that I had been unaware of the connection and this is a timely reminder that I need to be making use of my library of books again and reflecting and noting down my thoughts in visual form as I do so. Also that a visit to Tate to see the Seagram Murals, to sit and contemplate things in front of these great paintings is way overdue.

Drawing, The Departed 1V, Graphite on paper

Monday, 12 May 2014

Some discoveries of delight and pondering while I recover

You can tell I have been poorly because I started a new blog and didn't publish it - see below!  I am happy to say that after four horrible weeks, I am now well again although pacing myself because I don't want to relapse.  I am now fit enough to start preparing for the open studios next month; my plans are reduced, but I will still be able to put on a good show.  I'll blog about it in more detail shortly.

Thank you to everyone who sent me good wishes for recovery, especially when I was struck with a chest infection on top of the ears; I really appreciated it.

I did manage to stagger down the garden and take some photos of Spring amongst the wildness too!

So here I am, still stuck indoors and feeling a bit sorry for myself as I struggle to recover from a double ear infection, the result of a nasty virus I became ill with a week before Easter.  You can imagine my horror at not being able to prepare the house, new sitting room and all, in time for Easter and my two lovely daughters' visit.  Mind you; for the past two years they have become very used to arriving and staying here among dust, partly finished plastering, stud walls not finished and a lack of proper dining facilities.  They both told me they didn't mind not going anywhere over the Easter break because it is just nice to come here and chill out after some busy weeks working.  I worry too much. . . 

Antibiotics finished, but still feeling as if I have my head stuck in a goldfish bowl full of water, with maybe even a couple of fish swimming about, the doctor has told me I will feel like this for another ten days. TEN DAYS!  And then it will be another four to six weeks before my ears are properly healed.  I remember when I was a little girl having six weeks off school many times after ear infections and to have to be patient when there is so much to do, is really intolerable. But; there's nothing for it but to devise a gentle strategy of working that does not involve any bending down (makes my head and ears hurt very much), and too much walking about, (makes me feel a bit dizzy). Sigh.

But looking on the bright side: I have just re - jigged the written insert I provided for the simple give away I designed for my solo show last year.  This will be used for publicity and as a give away for NYOS 14.  I have to contact Liz Bailey in the hope she has a spare box of the brochures as when I opened what I thought was my box it turns out I picked up the wrong set. So frustrating!  I will take a gentle run out to Rosedale once I've sorted that problem out, to deliver some to the lovely Kate Jones and Stephen Gillies of Gillies Jones Glass, they are always a pleasure to spend time with and talk to.

Meanwhile, over the last couple of days,  I have been trawling the tinterweb, checking out various artists web sites that I have found via Twitter or Facebook.  It is such a joy to find artists that I'd never been aware of, whose work makes my heart leap!

Freya Purdue -
Tom Climent -
Kim Tillyer -