Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Peter Doig Talks about Sigmar Polke's use of Popular Imagery

In an article in the Tate Etc, in 2014, Peter Doig talks to Mark Godfrey about Sigmar Polke and mentions how the German Artist has influenced his approach to source material for his work. Doig refers to an exhibition, A New Spirit in Painting from 1981, that was held at the Royal Academy, a show that was very influential in forming Doig's methodology:

"I felt much more connected to Polke because of his use of popular imagery in a kind of witty irreverent way, and that he was prepared to use all types of visual language in his own work, unlike Richter who would be painting paintings that looked like photographs." (page 59)

Still from one of Polke's 16mm Films
Doig talks about his first experiences of seeing Polke's 16mm films first shown in Hamburg, some of which were appearing in the exhibition at the Tate:

"I was surprised by the way the camera operated like an eye examining everything in an almost uncomfortable voyeuristic fashion, details of faces, watching people."

Doig is acknowledging the use of film as a tool to examine and gather material and how it surprised him. Potential this may have been in an unsettling way based upon the content of the film, that showed bear-baiting in Afghanistan. But he goes on to say in the interview that he doesn't feel Polke used this, or such, footage in his work rather that the source material for Polke's later work was from contemporary newspapers, magazines and the internet.

Doig doesn't talk of this range of eclectic source material disparagingly. In fact he seems engaged by this use of media and his exposure to this at an important stage of his development, as a painter, will have shored up his own ideas of where he gathered his own inspirations.


FISCHIL, P. & DOIG, P. & GODFREY, M. A Contemporary Visionary, Tate Etc. Issue 32 Autumn 2014,  Tate Media, UK

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Humanity in Using Photography for Painting - Gerhard Richter

In 2011 John-Paul Stonard writes about Gerhard Richter, in the Magazine Tate Inc., as he contemplates how the German artist handles his source material, his use of 'snaps' and images cut from illustrated West German Magazines:

Part of October 18, 1977 Series - Gerhard Richter
"Richter holds all of his sources at arm's length. He is never exhorting us to think this way or that."

He cites a series of paintings from 1977, dealing with the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group, that used newspaper photographs as source material. Each is a blurred yet a photo real image that removes much of the narrative yet the subject is profound. The exact meaning of these is known to many who understand the political situation of the time and yet there are more who do not know the cultural reference. There exists an element of ambiguity.

Richter's choice of image for these paintings is based upon his reaction to the original article from which he took them, and the political environment of the time. In some respects he is trying to reproduce an atmosphere, rather than necessarily make a statement, which is partly evident through his removal of the lettering that originally punctuated the striking photographs.

Part of October 18, 1977 Series - Gerhard Richter
There is an air of uncertainty, a visual language that is primitive, and we understand on some level what this is and how it could in real life, and does in reflection, make us feel. This is perhaps the message that Richter wants to carry forward and part of his source. His original selection of the images for these paintings is also about him translating his feelings through duplicating the environment at the time and then their interpretation.

Richter also stays close to the original image's photographic make-up for this form of journalistic photograph also carries with it a voyeuristic element that only such photography can achieve and then allow us to literally witness something as if a crime scene. These powerful elements also exist in the work and bind the meanings.

On a deeper level Stonard states that Richter views photographs as 'natural things' and that they open a window onto nature. That nature consists of everything including humans and through photography you can gain direct access to nature and that Richter was a innovator in this area of the contemporary art world. The October 18, 1977 paintings we are witness to this. The results are harsh and visceral and we share in their humanity and nature.

STONARD, J-P, (2011) Inescapable Truths, Tate Etc. Issue 23, Autumn 2011, Tate Media, UK

Friday, 1 April 2016

Atmosphere in my Paintings

Peter Doig in his interview with Martin Gayford (2015) talks about his painting once he'd moved to the West Indies;
"My paintings started changing, they started becoming influenced by my being there."
He comments about a recent painting of the interior of his studio in Trinidad and says;
"There is nothing tropical about the painting, but something about it is Trinidadian."
This is clearly a reference to the atmosphere that he conjures up in his paintings. I'm interested in how the atmosphere is created in my paintings by me actually being in the field before the final still is decided upon. This is a split second I take from the video footage to paint, and as I paint I very much want to feel that moment again, the essence of the place. I ideally, very much like Doig does with his paintings, want to place the viewer in a voyeuristic position where they themselves  experience the atmosphere of the moment.

I don't think that this can necessarily be achieved by working from a photograph, one that has been posed rather than a moment from a film. There is something about grabbing a still from a film sequence that makes it transitional. There is a split second where the image is going to change
Current painting I've just finished - March 2016
and often the clarity of the mark or the objects within the frame is diminished or blurred as if incomplete in some way or wrong.

The lens of the video camera therefore becomes very much like the human eye because a photographer framing his photograph has a time to consider its composition and cannot group
together a whole series of images like a film to construct the environment that it is trying to capture.

Also because of the location, the fields of my landscape, the pictures do appear very English and seasonal as the land changes and we experience change through the painting. This is what's Doig is talking about with his Trinidadian paintings that the changes of environment are present in what he does and the atmosphere that he experiences he then translates into paint. How much subconscious input into this must vary but there is no doubt it is there especially as time passes and weautomatically simulate the palette of the landscape.

GAYFORD, M. (2015) Memory Traces, Apollo Art Magazine, New York