PARALLEL PROJECT: Diary without words cont… March

PARALLEL PROJECT : Diary without words cont… March

This is the final post concerning the Diary. It has been the most interesting exercise for me and I feel has taught me more about abstraction than much of the research. March entries for the Diary are not complete because of the creative energy and focus that was going into my other work. I was working on my final assignment pieces which, as you can read in my posts, was all about depicting ‘thought’. This proved to be very intense creative and mental work and I noticed that the diary entries consequently stopped. As I thought about this, I realized another aspect of abstraction which is the almost obsessive nature of it. The work that I was doing for the assignment required total focus in order to sift through layers of thought. Sometimes most of the day was spent in just thinking and waiting for the right mark. Exhausting work! There was just nothing left for the Diary. I didn’t mind about that as it taught me more about the journey I was on. However, the daily entries into a visual diary are so valuable that I want to start it up again for my own development.

 

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Critical Essay

Initial outline for critical essay

Critical essay…

 What is a critical essay

“..it should focus on how you can gain further understanding of your own work through an understanding of an established artist or art movement.”

——————————————————————————————–

 TITLE:   “Representation or abstraction: is that the point?”

-gaining a better understanding of my own work through an understanding of an established art movement – ie ABSTRACTION 

  1. Introduction

 Development towards abstraction in my own work

Drawing 2 course has encouraged deeper views of drawing, in particular investigating further into different ways of ‘seeing’ and ‘responding’.

 

  1. Two seemingly conflicting statements

             Research – Diana Armfield and Harold Hodgkin

Diana Armfield RA (from interview in Artists and Illustrators – page 24 – April 2017)

-“I think all my paintings are abstractions. The dull thing about abstract painting is that, to me, it has very limited meaning. It is akin to pattern making, just creating an ambience.”

 Howard Hodgkin

‘Absent Friends’ exhibition – NPG – article in Art Quarterly page 9 Spring

“As he once said, “I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational paintings of emotional situations.” His career has been dedicated to the impossible task of pinning down what’s beyond words: recalling fleeting everyday encounters and somehow fixing them in physical materials”.

 

  1. So what is ‘abstraction’?

– Tate definition

-Reading

 

Roger Hilton 1950 abstraction

‘Painting is feeling. There are situations, states of mind, moods etc which call for some artistic expression; because one knows that only some form of art is capable of going beyond them to give an intuitive contact with a superior set of truths.’

Tate website ‘Composition in Orange, Black and Grey.’

 

  1. My own exploration

Diary without words

Personal work in Parallel project

 

  1. Conclusion

-Whether abstraction or representation, it’s all the artist’s objective way of responding to what he sees

-‘search for truth’

‘The right date may not be 1915, and it’s wrong to equate this movement only with Malevich and equally “revolutionary” art. For abstraction has other roots. Supporters of Pollock in the 1950s found antecedents not in the ideological modernism of a Malevich, but the mystical poetry of late Monet. If you want to plunge into abstract art, to be lost in colour, sensation and obscure memories, you can’t do better than Monet’s waterlily decorations. Or go and look at some Cézanne. The shapes of things shatter and break under his restless gaze. Great patches of abstract colour infuse nature.”

“No, abstract art was not invented by the Russian revolution. It started to invade painting as soon as artists began to realise that as hard as they tried to paint nature, the colours they set down were the stuff of their own mind’s eye. The discovery that truth is subjective is the root of abstract art. It is also a fundamental insight of modern physics. Perhaps that is why, in front of Pollock, I feel I am seeing the shape of the universe itself.”

Guardian article – Jonathan Jones 19 December 2014 – “Abstract Art Unlocks the Truth about the Universe”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parallel project – moving from images of the mind to seeing

PARALLEL PROJECT

From images of the mind to seeing

Post 6

Now that the final assignment work is finished I’m starting to gather up the threads of the parallel project. As I’ve said in my other course work posts, the parallel project topic of Abstraction has been a dominant thread throughout Part 5. In project 1 – A Changing Scene – the sense of movement and its link with time stimulated abstract images and gave rise to questions about the movement of thought and its contrast with the stationary figure. Two pieces of work came out of this as well as the development of new concepts and images for the final assignment images – all abstract!

Project 2, on the making of a book, allowed me to pick up on ideas from Project 3 in Part 4. This project had focused on space and the dialogue with a space which a drawing can have. This project had become very personal for me and was my first experience of the intimacy of a space and its relationship to the passing of time. I was able to explore these ideas more deeply in the book format and again, became a further exploration of abstraction.

Project 3 – A finer focus – again allowed me to explore the incredible landscape which exists in small areas on the skin of a fruit. This has opened up ideas about the minute details of the visual world which exist to be explored…once again, abstraction.

Project 4 – Time and the Viewer – also gave me the opportunity to delve further into an abstract image from my daily diary and create a piece which would be interesting enough for the viewer to want to spend time with.

Then the final assignment work embraced the whole module and became a record of the changing lines of thought which occur over a period of time.

 

So, in a way, this whole section of work from Part 5 has been about my parallel project. I’m finding that abstraction is becoming the way I think and see the world. Up to this point I’ve concentrated mainly on emotional responses through the work in the daily diary. This has been invaluable in stimulating new marks and raising my confidence in my own personal voice.

I want now to move on from emotional responses to explore links with abstraction and the visual world. Tara Geer wrote, in ‘Thinking through Drawing: Practice into Knowledge – an exhibition accompanying an interdisciplinary symposium on drawing, cognition and education – 2011- “The world is strange and beautiful and full of awe. For me, drawing is about piercing apart all the named, known objects around me; teasing them into a pure meaningless visual field. Not window, table, wall, hand, but fat oily lines, shivering, hairline cracks, darkness…” (Page 50 – ‘What we illustrate when we draw: Normative visual processing in beginner drawings, and the capacity to observe detail’ )

 

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REFLECTION: Assignment 5 and the course as a whole

REFLECTION: ASSIGNMENT 5 AND THE COURSE AS A WHOLE

I am pleased with this assignment in that I feel to have worked to a point of resolution and that is satisfying. The first project in Part 5 stimulated a new way of thinking about movement and time and this became the starting point for the final assignment images.

Here is what a friend wrote after reading my blog and looking at the images for the final assignment work:

“I just loved working my way through your ideas on how to draw ‘thought’.  The stationary aspect really got to me and your concept of silent listening.  As I worked through your ideas I really felt strongly about the ‘stationary figure’. It seemed so important to me that ‘thought’ had an identity no matter how vague or nebulous. It was important to me in experiencing this journey of yours that I had some sense of, as you put it, ‘submergence’. Therefore I loved the sightless facial images as I thought about my walks and the thinking I do and at times I am completely unaware of surroundings. They just do not penetrate thought. Therefore in answer to your question ‘was the figure essential to the image of expanding thought’ I have to say yes.”

 The reader picked up on the idea that ‘thought needed an identity’ and she explained to me that, when looking at all of the images, she would spend time trying to find the figure. This has given me more to think about. She also explained that when she got to the part of the blog where I’d digressed to draw the opening bud, she felt an impatience to get back to the abstract images because she was so interested in trying to understand the drawings. During the course of this work I had seen that the figure indicated a narrative but for me, her insight has taken the idea even further – the link between identity and thought. I want to explore these ideas further in my work.

It has been quite a journey working through the ideas for this assignment and I have learnt a lot about perseverance and determination. The times when there were blocks were dealt with by going off on a completely different tangent and finding that even though the new tangent didn’t lead to anything, it served to free thought to find new ideas.

It was also hugely enriching to have the parallel project topic on Abstraction so closely linked to the work in the course projects. One kept feeding the other and finally I find that the course requirements and the parallel project have come together. I think that what I’ve learnt from this part 5 will lead me into the next step for the parallel project.

Drawing 2 has been a demanding and stimulating course and I feel it has projected me into just the right mental space for beginning Level 3. It has certainly fulfilled its stated purpose of requiring us to ‘explore drawing in its widest sense’. Each part of the course has required deep exploration, far beyond what appears in the course notes. In particular I have found the suggestions for research extraordinarily stimulating and it has opened so many new ways of thinking about drawing. I’ve been introduced to a number of completely new artists and several of these have changed my way of thinking about drawing.

This course has been the most creative course I’ve experienced since studying with the OCA. It has a light touch but has gently guided me to think for myself and to follow my own path. It provides space for the student to think and explore and this isn’t true of all the courses. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached a certain time in my own development which happily coincides with the thinking behind the construction of the course but I feel it has nurtured my own voice and provided the conditions for this to develop.

As I look back over the work, I can see how far I’ve come in terms of experimentation and confidence. There has been a lot of struggling and I have not often been successful in the work I’ve produced, according to tutor reports, and this has only served to emphasise to me the need to align clear defined thinking with technical skill and to persevere until you get resolution. In this last assignment the long process of struggling for resolution of the idea alongside the continual refining of composition and media decisions have shown what I’ve learnt throughout the course. I do believe the final results are successful as images but also are convincing examples of what I’ve learnt and how far I’ve come as an artist.

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PART 5: PROJECT 4 – time and the viewer

PART 5: PROJECT 4: Time and the viewer

Make a drawing which forces the viewer to use time differently. This may mean a drawing which takes time to make sense of or a drawing that creates a feeling of a certain pace. The drawing may need an investment of time by the viewer in some way.

What an interesting project!

In order to get started with this project I went back over my own experiences at looking at art and what it is which makes me take time with a painting. The most vivid example I can recall is spending time with Willem De Kooning. Many years ago I went to an exhibition of De Kooning and immediately, on walking into the gallery, felt that I wanted to get out. I knew little about the artist or the paintings and certainly at first glance, they didn’t attract me. However, I decided that this wasn’t good enough. Here was a renowned artist and I needed to give them a chance. So I remember sitting myself down in front of one of them and getting very quiet and allowing it to talk to me. I sat there for a long time certainly until I‘d put down all of my prejudice and negativity. I had to get past that to start with…kind of empty the mind! Then it all began to happen. I think it was the most wonderful hour I ever spent with a painting. He has been one of my favourite artists from that time.

So what is it that will attract the viewer to make an investment of time in a painting or drawing? I think it will be a number of things. It may be the initial attraction of the image – the colours used, the subject matter etc- possibly superficial elements to start with. Or it may be the title of the piece which intrigues.

Over the past several months I’ve been putting together a visual daily diary of images which express my feelings, experiences etc as part of my parallel project on Abstraction. This has provided an unexpected wealth of material to draw from. To get some ideas on how to approach this project which included the viewer I decided to ask a friend to look through the diary and indicate which images made her want to pause and look further. At this stage there were no titles for the images and so it was purely on first visual impressions that judgements were being made. This was a really interesting exercise in itself! My friend picked out a few from this first look at the diary contents. Over the weeks of compiling this book I had also made daily notes for myself on what each image illustrated. This was because I wanted to be sure that I was not just creating designs but that each image had real meaning for me. After my friend had selected the images which attracted her, I then let her see the titles and this was interesting. One of the images plus its title stood out and I found her looking again more deeply into the drawing to see what was there. It was titled ‘SEARCHING’.

 

I based the work for this project on this information which I’d got from this experience. I used charcoal, pastel, eraser, chalk. Each layer of lines was built up by applying the line then rubbing back or obliterating with chalk. The process was gestural and each line became a search for something unknown. The lines were done very slowly as the pencil moved across the paper. At certain points I turned the paper upside down and began the same searching lines from other directions. There was no planning of composition. I had not idea what the final image would look like. It was revealing to me that when I finally turned the page back to the original position that there were several figures there. I think the thing which I like most about this drawing is the quality of line. I love the rise and fall of the pencil.

 

‘SEARCHING’

Sections from the drawing:

I hope the viewer will spend time with this image.

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ASSIGNMENT 5

ASSIGNMENT 5

“Review the project work you’ve completed for this part of the course and then produce a drawing that needs a period of time to elapse during its production.”

This post is going to be rather long with over 70 images. It has evolved over a period of over two months.

The assignment piece I have decided on is titled ‘Thought Lines’. I have tried to draw ‘the inner landscape of changing thought’ and it has emerged out of concentrated exploration of thought, creativity and ideas in contrast to the stationary figure of the reflective individual.

It took me quite some time  to decide what was actually required for this final assignment. A drawing emerging over a period of time could be many things and the introduction to the section made a point of “avoiding second-hand illustration of effect “. What confused me were the illustrations given of the visual diary of a pregnancy which seemed to me to be just that. Almost every idea that came to me seemed to be an illustration of effect.

The concept for this work arose out of Project 1. One aspect of my work in that project – ‘A Changing Scene’ – explored the contrast between figures which were on the move and figures which were stationary yet absorbed in new concepts and creative ideas. All the movement was happening in thought and yet to the seeing eye, there was no movement at all.

I finished that first project with an unfinished image and I was dissatisfied with an unresolved idea. These drawings of ‘the thought process’ as swirling lines seemed so very obvious. The question of how to draw ‘thought’ and the concept of the stationary element of time elapsing as thought and ideas were moving and developing began to fascinate me.

That was the starting point for the assignment – to explore the concept of  ‘silent listening’, ‘the stationary aspect of moving thought’ or more simply ‘thought lines’. These titles may not be a right description of what I’m trying to find but it’s the best I can see at the moment. It’s been fascinating to explore this idea of time and movement because I’ve come to see that silence and the stationary figure are also elements of both time and movement. These elements are sadly hard to find in our society today.

The following description and images show the period of time which elapsed as I explored many different ideas before the final image emerged.

The development of the idea…

As I’ve explained, my obsession with the concept of stationary movement arose from the first project. With the stationary figure I tried to create a sense of the movement of thought with lines and texture using charcoal and pastels. I found this unsatisfactory and so obvious – the idea of swirling thought descending from on high!

So I began to work and experiment in a large A1 homemade sketchbook I’d sewn together using old sheets of paper. This was a good vehicle for me – it was not precious and the surface would take anything I did! Still thinking about depicting thought by lines, I worked with gestural marks, very free and experimental. I was still working with the figure at this stage.

I then took the idea of the gestural marks on their own, and worked with a more abstract image. This was running in parallel with my Parallel Project on Abstraction. I was also experimenting with a different mark using shapes. As I worked with this image, the figure began to emerge again but in an abstract form. I was thinking here about ‘submergence’ – the individual being submerged in thought.

At this stage, the exploration took a different turn. Rather than concentrating on expressing the movement of thinking and ideas, I decided to explore the stationary aspect of ‘thinking’. This meant going back to the figure and exploring the face. I was thinking of the process of an internal activity of the mind and worked to see how this can be expressed. As I was doing this I was thinking about Matisse’s wonderful painting of “The Absentminded Reader”, probably not what I was trying to bring into my work but for me, it is a wonderful image of the stationary figure absorbed in thought. I was working on a sightless facial image where all the activity was happening in the mind.

Some time elapsed as I worked on other projects.

Returning again to this subject, I was not satisfied that I’d reached any outcome. Several ideas had been left hanging in the air and I didn’t feel impelled to pick any of them up. But still the idea wouldn’t leave me!

So I took a completely new tack…I went the obvious route! Perhaps, I said to myself, you are being too obtuse! Just keep it simple and accessible! Over the period of the next few weeks I worked with some drawings of an emerging flower from the bud, exploring the idea of the emerging thought! I took the lily and started the work with the outline sketch of the closed bud. I worked in charcoal and after the first drawing I rubbed the lines back with a cloth so that only the impression was left.

After about a week the buds began to open. The process took longer than normal as the flowers were kept in a cold studio. Making sure to keep the centre stalk always the same I then drew the new shapes of the flowers. The leaves were all beginning to fall downwards. I was still working in charcoal but found when I repeated the rubbing down process like the first image, the two images were indistinguishable. This was a shock and so I had to draw the flowers all again. This time I rubbed them back very carefully so that both of the drawings were visible. It was interesting to look at them at this stage because there was a definite impression of the flowers moving.

It took longer for the third drawing because of the temperature in the room but finally the flowers opened further, in fact were at the final stage. I repeated the process as before but didn’t rub the lines back.

This piece of work gave me a real sense of the stationary in contrast to the indistinguishable movement of the opening flower. However, I felt that the final assignment work needed to be more than just ‘from bud to flower’, This felt too simplistic in view of the ideas I’ve been grappling with during this section and my parallel project.

As I reviewed the process of this image of the lily I saw that it was not about an emerging flower. It was actually a development from the work I’d been doing about mental space and the movement and change that happens in the mental realm with ideas. All during this time I’d been working on the daily diary of images for the parallel project and it occurred to me that some of my thinking about this assignment piece were evident in some of the images.

All of this work had been happening over a period of about 5 weeks. I was at the stage of needing the final image for the assignment and so I went back to experimenting and began again to push further the ideas. I was still searching for the creative imagery of expanding thought. In order to push through boundaries of thinking, I decided to explore the idea of exchanging objects that we see into thoughts. To get a different viewpoint I experimented with colour based on a vase of tulips in the studio. This was very experimental, applying the colour with my hands. I immediately rejected this idea but in just doing something so different I was able to break down a mental barrier. Still not there yet…!

However, having done work which was very ‘noisy’ in this last set of images, it was becoming clearer to me that the thought process and the energy of ideas was a silent process and so the image needed to suggest depth, quietness and listening. This was very different to the initial images of swirling lines. So I went back to the sketchbook and began to work on these qualities. The question of the thinking figure remained…whether to leave it in or out.

 

In this work the image is there to start but then becomes submerged in the thought process. The imagery of the thought process always seemed to end up as some mysterious landscape which wasn’t what I was searching for. My mind kept returning to the solitary figure…

So I went back to do some more work with the solitary figure. Was this figure essential to the image of ‘expanding thought’?

In all of this concentrated thinking and searching for the resolution of the idea, it occurred to me that this idea of creating work which depicts ‘thought’ was not a new idea for me but had been with me for several years and so I decided to go back to some work which I’d done some years ago, to try to get a new view. I first looked at a painting I’d done of ‘reverie’ and could see how just the solitary figure could encapsulate the individual’s absorption into thought. The choice of the color and tones as well as the stance of the figure expressed the ideas. Nothing else was really needed.

I then returned to two images I’d painted previously of ‘the child thought’, thought which was totally in the ‘now’ – instant colour, instant connection.

Looking at these past paintings consolidated my ideas. It highlighted the difference between the child thought and the adult thinking which was far more complex and included a ‘landscape’ of experience and memories. At this stage I felt at last to be making progress in finding the image I was searching for.

Focus was now on the figure. Starting from the original figure in project 1 I played around with different figure poses.

It became obvious that the inclusion of the figure immediately set up a narrative. But because I couldn’t yet see what the final image would be I decided to work with and without the figure either as a full figure or just a face. Continually at the back of my mind were all of the images in my daily diary (parallel project) which had featured so much exploratory work on line. And so the final image was beginning to emerge!

In this final stage (this work has spread over several months and reflects all of the work for Part 5) I worked with just the face to begin with. This was an interesting stage because as the image began to emerge, it actually became a self-portrait and I realized that what I was drawing was my own emerging thought process. The struggle and search over so many weeks was linked to understanding how thought emerges, how we bring our deepest thoughts and ideas into a visual reality. This was a complete revelation for me and the work became very personal.

In the sketchbook I created an image of a time line to suggest the passage of time. I then began to work on the emerging face, drawing with charcoal and pastel, then rubbing it back, repositioning the eyes, then rubbing back, allowing the image to emerge from the surface. I then began to work up the thought process using the experimenting from the daily diary on the expressive use of line. All the time I was thinking deeply about the creative process as new ideas emerge.

 

By this stage I had researched the drawings of Frank Auerbach and his method of allowing portrait images to emerge from the surface by constant scraping off of paint, layering of paint or obliterating drawing lines. This concept fitted well with where I was with finding a resolution to my struggling to depict the changing nature of thought on the individual. I felt the point had now come to gather up all of the experimentation from the previous months and discover the image I knew must be there.

This resulted in two final pieces.

To begin I covered the paper in charcoal and random marks and then with the charcoal began to ‘find ‘ the face on the paper….drawing, rubbing back, drawing, rubbing back, each time noticing the changes in the face in line with changes to thought. This was a fascinating step and I literally watched as the face emerged. There was not preconceived idea here – I was the viewer (Roland Barthes would have been happy!).

I then worked on the ‘thought lines’. This pencil and charcoal work echoed the experiments I’d done for the parallel project in my daily diary. Tara Geer and Christine Hiebert, both artists working with line, were in my thought as I worked to express the many layered, uncertain, sometimes jumbled, sometimes clear, searching sense of silent, moving thought.

The second of the two assignment pieces focused more on the concept of an inner world of thought and ideas. In this, the figure or figures (there are 3) become completely immersed in creativity and thought lines.

Sections of the image:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CONTEXTUAL FOCUS POINT: Frank Auerbach’s portraiture

RESEARCH: Frank Auerbach’s portraiture

 Several years ago I was fortunate to be able to see a small exhibition of Frank Auerbach’s work at the V&A in London. It is an experience I will not forget and his drawings had a strong effect on me. Here is my response to that visit…

 “The exhibition displayed the paintings and drawings of Auerbach from the early 1950s to 2007, drawn from Lucian Freud’s private collection, which has been acquired for the nation by Arts Council England.

This was the first time I’d experienced Auerbach’s work first hand and it was truly memorable. My present course of study in Mixed Media has introduced me to this artist because of the very physical texture of his painting and actually seeing these works up close was extraordinary. In several images the paint was applied straight from the tube and left in that state. The thickness of the impasto was such that the image resembled low relief. But it was the extraordinary combinations of colours which was the most absorbing.  These, up-close, appeared random because of the strength and ruggedness of the marks and it was only when seen from a distance that the tonal variations and subtlety could be seen.

However, for me it was the collection of drawings which I found the most exciting. You could tell immediately that it was the same hand which had held the pencil or charcoal that had also struck the canvas with layer upon layer of paint marks. The energy, immediacy, power and expressive mark making were simply wonderful to study. On several of the drawings, Auerbach had obviously begun by covering the surface of the paper with energetic pencil lines and it seemed to me that it was his way of bringing the drawing out from the surface. Lines were struck every which way over the paper, almost as though he was reaching a climax for the final image. The surface pencil marks were then rubbed back into a soft grey tone over which the final image in pen or graphite was drawn. Each line of the drawing was powerful and fast with no detail but simply a summation of what he wanted to express.”

It is interesting now to take up this research again after seeing another much more extensive exhibition of Auerbach’s work at Tate Britain last year. The most overpowering element of the work when you are confronted with rooms full of his paintings is the sheer physicality, energy and ‘aliveness’ of the images. They demand you to look at them beyond a passing glance. The intensity and abundance of the paint draws you in to explore a surface which in the first instance looks like a total mess. ‘Indigestible’ is probably the best word for it! In his conversation with Catherine Lampert in 1978, he makes this interesting comment: : You know, when Leo Stein bought the Matisse ‘Woman in the Hat’, the picture of Madame Matisse, he said he bought it because he thought it was the most horrible mess he had ever seen. Well, that seems to me to be a perfect justification for admiring a painting. Good paintings do attack fact from an unfamiliar point of view. They’re bound to look genuine, and in some way rawly and actively repellent, disturbing and itchy and not right. I would not reject anything that seemed shocking or extreme, but on the contrary, I would value it, but I wouldn’t do it for its own sake. I mean to do it for its own sake then becomes part of the world of advertisement and fashion.”

This comment for me summed up the central point of Auerbach’s work and in particular his portraits. In the conversation with Christine Lampert he uses the word ‘fact’ a lot. Fact, truth, authenticity, honesty, however you express it, is central to the images. At first glance they may look a mess, the viewer may be fascinated with the application of paint, but it is the integrity of the work which dominates. His portraits are a search for ‘fact’. Layer on layer of mark making, paint application and brush strokes are simply the means for extracting the face from the canvas. He is ‘seeing in paint’. The surface is covered in smears and heavy impasto – do they make the identity of the face or threaten to dissolve or hide it? This question continually intrigued me as I studied the paintings. They set up so many questions. Why the impasto? Is it, as T.J. Clark writes in his article ‘On Frank Auerbach’, a way of ‘seeing’? Or not seeing or not being sure what you are seeing? This process of going through the elements of seeing is what makes Auerbach’s portraits so compelling.

“I think all good painting looks as though the painting has escaped from the thicket of prepared positions and has entered some sort of freedom where it exists on its own, and by its own laws, and inexplicably has got free of all possible explanations. Possibly the explainers will catch up with it again, but never completely…” page 142 Frank Auerbach – catalogue 2015.

Auerbach’s portraits are done from life. He explains that with the model in the room it sets up a particular urgency and I feel that this urgency comes through the painting. The element of time is a constant presence and the urgency comes through in trying to capture an experience before it disappears. How he paints expresses this. It’s interesting to me that he doesn’t put his sitters in commonplace gestures. This comes back to his rejection of the false – false situations – and his concentration always on ‘fact’.

From what I have described, it is evident that Auerbach’s method of working reflects his purpose. Paintings are not planned or visualized before he starts working. I see it as an emerging process. His thick surfaces of paint in the early days came about because he would not scrape back but instead worked over the previous surface. From the 1960s he began to scrape away the whole surface until he reached the image he was satisfied with. The final image however was the result of 30, 50 or perhaps 200 separate versions before the final image emerges. This passage of time in the continual search for the ‘fact’ of his images is, for me what makes them great paintings.

It seems to me that the viewer is required to re-enter the same process as Auerbach has experienced in producing his paintings. We go through the same steps – at first the image is unclear, unresolved, indistinguishable, indigestible – in fact a mess. But even at first glance you can feel the energy and the power behind the image. What intrigues you most is that you can’t see what’s there and so many questions leap into your mind. I think that Auerbach, in his perhaps 200 paintings of the portrait,- painting then scraping back or drawing and then rubbing off – is on the same search as the viewer. The painter and viewer are together. With one proviso! Time! Unlimited time must have elapsed in the process of some of Auerbach’s images and the viewer needs to be prepared to invest the same time to truly see what’s there.

Frank Auerbach- Head of Catherine Lampert 11 1985

Frank Auerbach- Head of E.O.W 11-1961

Frank Auerbach – David Landau Seated 2010-11

Frank Auerbach – Self Portrait 2014

Frank Auerbach- Reclining Head of Julia 1994

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