I am enthusiastic to tell you about my new exhibition next month.
I want to connect with bigger things than my art or myself and I have decided I want to help in situations where there can be a difference between life and death. The local regional Air Ambulances mission is to provide a rapid response to trauma and medical emergencies and is vitally important. I want to do my bit by supporting the local Air Ambulance charity. To this end l have decided to give 50% of the sales from my next art exhibition in April to the charity.
The local regional air ambulance fly two helicopters across the counties of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland covering 3850 square miles of the UK. They provide a vital part of the health service, with an average response time of 13 minutes, they attend on average 6 missions a day. The Air Ambulance Service is one of only two totally independent air rescue providers in the UK and they receive no government finding. They are entirely funded through the generosity of members of the public and corporate sponsors and I want to help too.
I hope that by raising funds for the charity through selling my paintings, I can bring even more meaning to life through my Art. Every £5 raised could pay for pressure dressings to control a patients bleeding. Every £10 raised could pay for enough fuel to fly 11 miles towards the nearest major trauma centre. Every £20 raised could pay for defibrillator pads to use when a patient suffers cardiac arrest, without which the defibrillator wouldn’t work. Every £36 could pay for Celox, a type of gauze that, in the case of major haemorrhages can help stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form. Every £60 raised could pay for straps to safely secure patients before and during their flight, allowing the crew to focus on treatment.
Please join me from 18th – 26th April 2018 at Floor 1 Gallery, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Little Elborow Street, Rugby, CV21 3BZ from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 10am til 4pm.
Thank you for your support, I look forward to seeing you there.
A fictional world of colourful hues surrounds me as I go from one work to another. I feel like I’m between cultures and countries at Peter Doig’s show at the Michael Werner Gallery, London. Peter Doig born in 1959 in Edinburgh, has lived in Trinidad since 2002. He studied at Wimbledon School of Art, Saint Martins School of Art and Chelsea School of Art. He is a professor at the Fine Arts Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany. In reviewing this exhibition, I’m interested in contemplating Peter Doig methods, techniques, and content in order to consider how an acclaimed artist approaches the process of painting in paradise.
Looking at Peter’s, Red Man (Sings Calypso) 2017, I was curious about the symbolism in this painting. The central figure in his swimming trucks is the film star Robert Mitchum when he visited Trinidad in 1957 and recorded an album of Calypso songs. The character in the background references a man who lives on the island of Trinidad and often walks around the beach with a snake wrapped around him impressing the tourists. The painting also references Laocoon’s struggle in Greek mythology when Laocoon and his two sons are killed by serpents sent by Apollo. My interpretation of the painting is that it suggests the inequality between the tourists and locals. Robert Mitchum’s film star sunburn, is in strong contrast to the naturally, dark, local man and his snake, as the two worlds collide.
Peter Doig has previously stated, “we don’t always have to know what our painting is about”. What I like and enjoy about Peter Doig’s paintings is that they give the viewer the impression that they are free to float around Peter’s imagination without look for meaning. The symbolism in the paintings however, is very striking and encourages the viewer to ask questions about the artist intentions, neverthelessless for me they are a distraction in seeking to understand what the painting is really about.
I believe the found photographs used by the artist are only a starting point. They add another layer to the painting, but the subject in the images only helps to get the piece started. Once the painting is underway the subject matter becomes irrelevant for the artist. Quite often the meaning in Peter Doig’s paintings is unavailable and unexplainable. The subject is like a desolate dream that is almost unfathomable for an outsider.
The paintings are more about the daily painting process. Peter has created a signature style on the canvas where he can play with open creativity within a broad set of rules. He loves keeping things interesting where no two painting are painted the same. In my view, he wants to communicate his distinct impression of what he sees in the unique colours from the tropic paradise of Trinidad but feels compelled to highlight the dark side of life too.
Peter paints openly and quickly when starting a painting in order to get some colour on the canvas. His signature figurative painting style comes from creating a richness of paint through layers. The cloth soaks up the washes, and the background colours come through the thin layers. Peter, at times, has been known to leave his paintings exposed to the weather at his studio to take advantage of the marbling effect from watermarks. When the paint dries, there are rich details from the runs, splatters and drying process, which partially look like stains. He also sometimes masks out areas before the layering process to leave silhouettes of figures coming through the washes.
The second stage of Peter’s painting process is working on top of the layers, adding figures and objects as the experimenting continues. He uses an impasto technique that carefully balances with the layers below, so they don’t dominate. It is common in smaller works of art for many artists to feel free to increase the risk-taking. It is the same for the smaller works in this show; the risk-taking is exciting with more vibrant kaleidoscopic tones. The mark making pushes the boundaries and adds even more mystery.
I find Peter’s painting technique profoundly absorbing and fascinating. There is no plan or an imagined endpoint; the open exploratory journey can go in any direction. It is clear that Peter enjoys the process of painting everyday in the studio.
The darkness in the Trinidad paradise that underlies the work adds an edginess to this dream world. Through the danger of risk-taking Peter offers the viewer a better appreciation of the world. The colours and the process have an impact on the human soul; each painting expresses its own spirit and soul.
In the Peter Doig show, he asks open questions about what a painting paradise could be. The symbolism helps add layers of meaning that may lead you down a rabbit hole. For me, the paintings are about the process of painting. Exploring different methods and techniques, and opening the doors to a fictional land where everyone’s soul is welcome.
I remember watching the film Pulp Fiction, in that movie, there was a great power in the mystery of what was in the suitcase. In the film, we never find out. The mystery of not knowing was more powerful than knowing. I see there is enormous potential for interpretation by the viewer. I want to add mystery to my artwork so the viewer can interpret the work the way they see it. The audience can bring their own intentions, baggage and ideas. I want the viewer to look at the artwork and let their mind wonder.
Representational art discusses drawing, handling of paint, skill, composition; it also can be used to communicate ideas and a subject. The intention behind representational work is often clear for the viewer, but I have found it limited for discussing deeper philosophical challenges and felt it was holding me back.
However, abstraction artwork is different in that is invites more commentary and mystery. The viewer coasts across the surface trying to understand it and often falling short. The viewer can often never be sure if they understand the artist’s intention. The intention is often not what the work is about. Instead while making the work the thinking and the doing are often inseparable where feeling and emotional responses are often significant in making the ‘art’ within work.
I want to create a space for instincts and accidents rather than the straightforward one-to-one representation. I want to feel and grab something real and put it in a painting. I am interested in the space in the viewer’s mind as much as the space in the composition and the space that inspired the work. Through an investigation of spatial structures in a pursuit of knowledge, I want to create a different way of looking and seeing the world. I find it profoundly gratifying focusing on the place in-between forms; perceiving the image and watching it disappear into shapes, forms and space.
The outcome is an artwork that is intended to work on many levels. The clarity of the composition is comparable with the mark making: realising positive and negative, absence and presence in equal measure. The colours and forms produce and transmit a poetic meaning, an emotional state that invites interpretation. By creating an interpretation of space that cannot be communicated by words the work it acts a metaphor about what it means to alive today.
I have certainly had the feeling that there is some wrong with the world and I’m sure most people have. I recently watched the film ‘The Matrix’ (1999) again after reading the Guardian newspaper article titled, ‘Constructed reality: are we living in a computer simulation?’ I think it is unlikely that we are residing in a computer simulation, even though some people think it is true. Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and Space X believes the probability that we are not all living in a simulated world is one in billions, but I think most people would not think too deeply about this argument.
The Matrix dialogue
Morpheus: Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind – driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
I enjoy thinking about ideas that challenge what we believe to be true. It wasn’t that long ago we thought the earth was flat. To try and find out what the purpose and meaning of life is and believe the simulation argument leads you down a rabbit hole. I think it is impossible to verify and confirm whether it is true or not. Life still matters, either way, we are still conscious and aware of our own existence, sensations and thoughts, we still have purposeful relationships and activities.
A great approach is to follow your instincts by exploring, responding and make sense of this world. Personally, the only way I can see to do this is through my relationship with making art. It feels natural to me through making art to look for a deeper level of meaning and value in our ordinary everyday lives. I am always looking for hidden depths of our deepest self.
I feel like I see the world differently and I see my ultimate goal as an artist is to locate and communicate this. I would always feel incomplete if I tried to suppress this urge. It is a passionate engagement and something I have to do.
Braque said,”the only valid thing in art is which cannot be explained.”
Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say, it’s more likely that not.