STATEMENT 1995: Pollock-Krasner Foundation
Introduction to Work
From 1987 until last year all my work was based on some sixty objects within a large still-life arrangement depicted in a painting called ‘The World’. This body of work consists of paintings and drawings which examine the still-life as a landscape and the objects as exhibits from an unfamiliar environment. Eight painted canvases produced in 1994-95 isolate one object from the still-life against a field of flat colour. These attempt to embody the mystery of material things seen as themselves alone, separated from function, context, association and so on. There is also some sense of what I think of as an everyday miracle – the wonder of representation. The skin of paint covering the canvas is read as abstract colour in some places, while elsewhere it is taken to be the image of an object. The unmodulated colour continues over a wooden lip at the edge of the canvases and around the side. The works appear to be some sort of flat domestic objects simulating paintings.
My more recent work abandons any connection with the objects from the still-life and moves closer to being actual painting. Basic elements of picture-making, such as composition and colour, are used in rudimentary form. The ordinary objects represented in the ‘Domestic Landscape’ paintings of 1995 do not risk their fascination being attributed to strangeness. The division of colour could be taken to be a horizon, or perhaps the surface of water seen in cross-section, though other factors contradict a figurative reading. The painted images are placed on a simple ground which flips back and forth between abstraction and pictorial space. While retaining some feeling of ‘the mystery of objects’ these works play with the mechanics of depiction, yet still remain very much objects in themselves by means of the raised wooden moulding and painted edges. Absurd conjunctions are displayed – emptiness and detail, surface and illusion, exterior and interior, artistic order and domestic chaos, abstraction and representation. Inevitably the mind projects symbolic or narrative readings on to the groups of objects depicted. In my view the works neither confirm nor deny such interpretations, but rather make explicit the language of images which provokes them.
I am currently embarking upon paintings which are related to the ‘Domestic Landscapes’ and which explore some of the same issues. They seem to me to be true paintings (not work which imitates some of the conventions of painting) and could be considered the latest strategic shift along a trajectory which has moved away from painting and then slowly back towards it over many years.
I don’t see this as radical art which extends the practice of art-making. It is a self-conscious (but more intuitive than logical) attempt to use some of the conventions of painting to evoke the extraordinary from the banal, while alluding to the history of art in general and modern painting in particular.