Thursday, 30 June 2016

Julie Mehretu and Process

Julie Mehretu's "Black City" painting. (2007)
I recently watched a video from 2014 of Tim Marlow (Director of Artist Programmes at the Royal Academy) in conversation with the artist Julie Mehretu and they discuss, amongst other things, process on a number of levels. I found this interesting in terms of how I approach the construction of my paintings.
Mehretu: "There's a formal use of space, and negotiation of this enveloping space, that happens with the larger paintings where there are various centers and a de-centered type of space that takes place but I think that we look at paintings with a certain understanding of the center and that it has a different type of power in a way. There are certain paintings that play with this in the language."

For me she is saying here that she is disengaging with the tradition visual language of a painting and trying to play with the expectation of the viewer. The layers she and her assistants apply to the work are complex and confused although rhythmical, or inspired, even traced from technical drawings or architectural studies. There is no one place to look towards but instead a mass of information you can try and absorb through an intense process of observation.

Mehretu: "In the previous paintings the architectural information provided this social metaphoric around the forms of architecture that were included for a specific place or taken from historic plans that all had very specific ideas. The more recent paintings... ...are so layered that you couldn't decipher what was what, you could only see these parts and the drawing completely decimated the architectural drawing in a way or shifted it into something else where these other forms could emerge. The new work is really being made from these other forms that come through from those parts. It's like another language coming out from these forms, or the most haunting forms."

Through the original process that she used to create her paintings, that intensified as the layers built in her complex paintings, she found a new language. A series of patterns that could not exist without the original factual source material. The architectural and historical plans that she uses as a basis are morphed through the process and she ends up with something new and yet an evolution of her process, a visual language for her paintings.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Peter Doig's Painting 'Ski Jacket' 1994

Detail from Ski Jacket by Peter Doig
I recently went up to the Tate Modern where I saw Peter Doig's painting entitled the Ski Jacket.

Title: Ski Jacket - Date: 1994 Medium: Oil paint on 2 canvases
Dimensions Support, right: 2953 x 1604 x 33 mm support, left: 2950 x 1900 x 33 mm
Looking at the mark making I was inspired by the range of marks but also interested by the fact that this image was not as thickly painted as I previously thought. There were blobs of thick paint here and there deliberately placed as if sculptural features and the main body of the paint was a complex mix of brush strokes where the detail was secondary. This painting is massive and meant to be view from a distance where the detail blurs.
There is obviously a lot of white in this painting being based on a photograph of a ski slope.  Seen here in the detail are the out of focus public on the ski slope. Working this from a photograph probably meant that Doig actually had no detail to work from and was working with a gestural process where as shape would indicate a body position.This is an interesting concept that we was in fact painting something where the detail was absent.
The layers of paint are obviously worked and reworked and the colours often subtitle. It's this level of reworking though that comes through and creates a massive swirling vortex of shape and colour.

Monday, 6 June 2016

One way in which Luc Tuymans uses Mass Media

In The Heritage VI (1996), Luc Tuymans

In the Slade contemporary art lectures series 2015-16 Luc Tuymans talks about his source material for a series of paintings he shows in quick succession.  Many of the  paintings are rooted in international stories or past events. Access to media has allowed him to pull these stories from the world, big issues that are represented by photographs of people, the characters involved. It is obvious that one of the things that strikes him is the human aspect, the way seemingly ordinary people are subject to, or subject others to, horrible acts.

He references his portrait of Joseph Milteer, "It's a depiction of the average American dad, his eyes are a little bit enlarged, but it's actually a Texan Millionaire who was actually heading the Ku Klux Klansman."

He seems to be implying that on one level you can not spot someone's motives just by looking at their face which he frames but that once you find out who this person is it can become very unsettling, as if we should be able to see someones motives. His use of mass media has become a tool for him when he purposely holds back information that would ordinarily be packages with it. This is a tool that Gerhard Richter also used in his work in say the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group paintings.


Slade contemporary art lectures series 2015-16 Talk - Luc Tuymans