So at the gallery they mainly have paintings and most of these paintings sell for more than my furniture simply because they are paintings and my stuff is furniture. Thats nuts, completely stupid especially when I can see less work and a quality or qualities worth defining in the paintings.
So I’m thinking of doing some paintings, not just to join in, but I have had such things in mind for a long time. Theres certain things, landscapes, though they are more buildingscapes (as theres usually no land involved – only the constructions that sit on it), that have caught my eye and I’ve thought worthy of committing to canvas for a long time now so maybe it’s time to do so.
I do have favourite painters and of course what I seek to paint is indicative of the people I look up to. Charles Sheeler has always been one of my favourite painters but it’s very hard to find his work.
Though maybe he just didn’t do many paintings.
I can see why I like them and I think it’s because they are similar to things I saw as a child growing up in a steel mill town next to a lake. These would have been the scenes that were not suburban streets and schools but the expanses that occasionally opened up before my eyes and were of mans challenge to the landscape to be worked into something of use to the human. Now I don’t want to go out and paint factories but the underlying theme of taking that which is often considered not worthy of viewing as beauty is definitely up high on my list of priorities and the subject matter would most likely be somewhat similar in that the paintings above show steel, cement, asphalt and glass.
But by the same token I’ve been climbing the various cinder cones all around Auckland city from The one down the end of Dominion round, that overlooks the new motorway, to Mt St John that is between the old southern motorway and Manukau Rd and thinking that different views from each would tell an interesting story about the motivations of the people that live adjacent to those colden outcrops of a much more violent past. Not that the molten origins of these hillocks have any bearing except the time difference may be somewhat akin to my own way of viewing the subject which hopefully means my perspective will be hundreds of thousands of years different to a regular landscape painting.
On another note it may be time to empathise with the woman who has done so much to colour my work in steel, at first without me knowing it, and after I found her work to create a crisis in direction for me.
Lee Bontecou’s work used to turn up in art books that showed american work of the late fifties and early sixties but there was only ever one or two works and I would see these works, along with all the other pre-pop art, long before I had aspirations of being an artist. I always have been an artist but for me in the early days drawing and being able to construct things were only ever tools to acheive some other purpose like making clothes and cars. But I think I still took the nature of artistic endevour as subtle influences in how I worked in the world. Upon finally deciding to go to art school and actually be an artist I mined, for inspiration, that which had recently obviously motivated me, modern pop art of the Roger Dean ilk, and did no digging in the prehistory of modernism or archeological digging in the just before now.
I suppose I instinctively knew that knowing what has just happened or is happening is a trap for the unwary as everything that is has it’s roots in peoples sub-conscious pasts and that what is now has been gleaned in some distant past and has spent decades digging its way up to the surface.
I know this for a fact, well, a fact in my subjective understanding of life, when I encountered the secret life of Lee Bontecou in a book that was full of the work she has done, in relative obscurity, after dropping away from fame and fortune in the early sixties and working as an art teacher somewhere in rural New York. I was at a stage in my own life where this book completely exstinguished my own need to make art as she had already done everything I wanted to do.
So I had subconsciously seen her art in my past and used the direction she started with to define my own directions.
Then after going in various directions and defining my own ideas of what art I really wanted to make I found this book of art that had been done in secret, or without having to show it, and found myself at a crossroads where everything I had hoped to acheive with my art had already been done. This came in about 2003 and was really quite a shocker for me and my most recent foray into furniture making is the me finally getting over that shock and deciding to get back into art. Actually I did do some stuff in 2004 or 2005 with fibreglass and metal but it really didn’t go anywhere. It was as if I was on such a tangent that no one got it at all… or it was just shit, I have no idea.
Anyways, I’ve done the furniture and I may do a little more but I’m not going to spend a few years trying to convince people that what I do is art. I know it’s art and I may be better off using a more conservative pallete, painting, that I’m really not very good at to lead people towards the type of stuff that really bends and stretches my abilities… metalwork, but seems so far to be far too obscure for the art buying public to find any footholds in.
If theres one thing I’ve learnt in life its that obviously obscure and obscure obviously are so fucking different as to be worlds apart.