Engaging with madness of the human condition

A thought came to me back in 2013 if your not happy living in the real world, create an alternative for yourself, a different way of looking at the world an ask yourself some deep questions;
What are the forces behind living things?
What does it means to be human?
How do you paint an antidote?
How do you paint a scream for help?
The outcome is a parody of human nature that looked behind the mask of our society at the underlying aggression and attitude, randomness and cruelty of the world.
©Stuart Bush, Walking that clown walk - prep work
©Stuart Bush, Preparation drawing before ‘Walking that clown walk’ painting
In this preparation piece before the final painting on canvas, I considered how my idea was going to work.  I had this idea about using newspaper to form the architecture in the background and in this prep work I simplified my idea.  The quick mixed media sketch was very helpful when it came to making the final painting.
When I made the painting I was surprised how challenging it was to create the newspaper collage.  It took a very long time to get it right.  I became very determined to make the newspaper look like the building and architecture by using the lines of print and edges of the newspaper.  I am very pleased with the final outcome.
©Stuart Bush, Walking that cat walk 2013 oil on canvas 100.3 x 130 cm
©Stuart Bush, Walking that clown walk, oil on canvas 100.3 x 130 cm – £1400 + shipping enquiry

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What I am naturally drawn to?

©Stuart Bush, I have been looking for something to believe in (2007) oil on canvas, 126 x 71 cm
©Stuart Bush, I have been looking for something to believe in (2007) oil on canvas, 126 x 71 cm – £1300 + shipping enquiry
My work looks as it does not because of a choice I have made, it is what I am naturally drawn to.
While I was studying at the University of Wolverhampton one of the many modules was to paint and draw in the streets and in public space, in the ‘plein air’ style. En plein air (French pronunciation), or plein air painting, is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning ‘open, in full air’.
I enjoyed the challenge and I became reasonably competent at it. However, painting plein air style can be time-consuming and would not work with the ideas l had in mind. It also felt too contrived for me and I wasn’t drawn towards working that way like I was towards photography.
I studied photography at Illinois State University in the US and at Wolverhampton University. When I left university I know that photography was something I wanted to continue. I was drawn and attracted to using photography as it was something l seemed to have a natural talent for. When l started walking the streets with a camera, l was originally looking for a way to use the camera as a sketchbook.  I don’t remember when I came across Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography but it must have around the same time because it has had a profound effect on my work. I believe that l visited the 1998 National Portrait Gallery exhibition in London where Henri’s work was on show. Photography in Henri Cartier-Bresson’s eyes was; “a means of capturing what he famously called the ‘decisive moment’ when the balance of a composition or the look on a face said something special about time, place and the world we live in.”
I realised it was a way for me to capture an ephemeral moment of time that says something significant.  I didn’t know what that significant thing was when I started but I realised this could be the beginning of by practice as a painter.  The exploration of what is significant in these fleeting moments could possibly be uncovered in a lifetimes work as a painter.
©Henri Cartier-Bresson, photography of Alberto Giacometti https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12684959
©Henri Cartier-Bresson, photograph of Alberto Giacometti https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12684959
Over time I now understand a little more that I am naturally drawn to painting the relationship between the individual and the city.  Making and defining images that are important to everyone and that are significant in terms of human beings by using our great human perception.

Ways of dealing with consumerism: how has my art evolved

I am going to try to answer these question in this post

  • How has my art evolved?
  • What are the common threads?
  • What has stayed the same?
  • What has changed a little
  • and what has a lot?

To start with I am going to give you a whistle stop tour of the changes in my art to show how it has evolved.  In 2004 I started considering ways to deal with the negative effects of consumerism through art.

©Stuart Bush, A study for being normal 1 (2006) oil on canvas 51 x 71.5 cm
©Stuart Bush, A study for being normal 1 (2006) oil on canvas 51 x 71.5 cm £376 + shipping enquiry
©Stuart Bush Blind boy (2007) oil on canvas 50 x 70 cm
©Stuart Bush Blind boy (2007) oil on canvas 50 x 70 cm – £650 + shipping enquiry
©Stuart Bush, The Kingdom (2009) oil on canvas 150 x85 cm
©Stuart Bush, The Kingdom (2009) oil on canvas 150 x85 cm – £2800 + shipping enquiry

 

©Andy Warhol, Campbells soup cans 1962
©Andy Warhol, Campbells soup cans (1962)

I immediately knew I didn’t want to celebrate its over bright, flashy and showy side, the way Pop Art mirrored consumerism, for example the 57 varieties of Campbell Soup.  Warhol’s pop art mimics the production line by using repetition.  He was trying to tell us about the times in which we live.  Campbell’s tomato soup, is available to everyone and you can have this too but it is a trap, it’s a prison.

©Stuart Bush, Walking that cat walk 2013 oil on canvas 100.3 x 130 cm
©Stuart Bush, Walking that cat walk 2013 oil on canvas 100.3 x 130 cm – £1400 + shipping enquiry

I went through a period of considering whether creating edgy work would be a good way to create a new body of work.

©Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1966
©Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1966

It took me a long time to realise that the minimalist artists also had disdain for consumerism. Minimalist artists presents a contrary and opposing view in the way their art deals with consumerism.  Art works like Carl Andre, Equivalent V, mimics the emotionless and blankness of consumerism. Life has become dominated by consumerism and we are its submissive servants.

©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object 2016 oil on aluminium panel 80 x 120 cm
©Stuart Bush, A section of ourselves as a commodified object 2016 oil on aluminium panel 80 x 120 cm

As I worked to find a subtle way to deal with consumerism in my work I considered this as a response to minimalism.

What are the common threads? What has stayed the same? What has changed  little?

The common thread throughout the work have been how I have started each work.  They have all started with street photography.  From there they have also always had a relationship back the original photograph they came from.

And my final question was what has changed a lot?

What has changed a lot is my understanding of art.  I think the explanations of Andy Warhole and Minimalism highlights that.

 

‘A study for being normal 1’ (2006) ‘Blind boy’ (2007) and ‘The Kingdom’ (2009), are currently available for sale.

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