Sunday, 26 June 2011

Old photos of old pictures

While hunting around for some other photos last night, I found this lot - some of the images & newspaper cuttings from the May 1990 exhibition in Luxembourg, plus a few of other paintings from the 1980s. So here they are, in lieu of anything newer this weekend (I am adding borders to quilts and other not very interesting things, before having a big sandwiching/tacking/basting session in a few weeks - which does not make for very interesting photos at the moment). Jean-Marc has just had another exhibition in Luxembourg - I think it has finished now, but unfortunately I seem to have lost the invitation he sent, so I don't know. His work has gone off into amazing directions, while I have totally lost touch with Shaun.

I've tried to soften/improve the half tone photo from the Cambrian News a bit, so you can see more of the paintings. I wonder if we ever bought a b/w print of it? Probably not. I had quite a bundle of identical newspaper cuttings, because we used to return only the dated headers from the unsold weekly paper when I worked at Galloways bookshop, so I probably clipped the article out of every return that week :-) I was 25 and Shaun was 24, but we both look about 14!

I know there are more photos floating around somewhere of the actual exhibition, but these were the only two with the cuttings, all my work. The first is one my Jacques Brel series (blue, left, Ne me quitte pas) and the one on the right a portrait of a friend, who is a writer, linguist, actor and director.

Here's the orange portrait on the easel - I used a lot of orange even then. The medium is mostly Rotring Artist Colour, a fantastic liquid acrylic ink developed for airbrushes, which allowed an astonishingly luminous finish, built up in numerous transparent glazes. Unfortunately, with the demise of the airbrush, this ink isn't made any more and I haven't found anything quite like it. I still have some and eke it out when I use it. The pigment particles were almost microscopic, which is how it didn't clog airbrushes but also how it could maintain that intense colour effect without muddying the hues. I applied it with assorted brushes for this portrait, and mixed it with a glaze medium for more transparency. The dense black of the suits were done with regular black acrylic. At the time, I was very fond of using words in paintings (and would use more text in quilts, if it didn't cause problems with international book editions) - I love text on fabric too. In those days, it was Letraset. I must have got through tons of the stuff.

A few slightly earlier pictures follow - the cubist phase - 'And flitted away as far as they could from the castle that lay east of the sun and west of the moon' - oil on canvas. Canvases were so expensive then. We used to stretch our own - buy the frame sections and canvas from the art dept shop, then get to work with the staple gun. The canvas they sold was very rough compared with that on ready made canvases, unprimed, and wore brushes out in no time at all. This hangs in the stairwell here. The photo looks like it was taken in the common room in the old art dept. building on Llanbadarn Road.

From the abtract impressionist phase (I was really into Kadinsky's early work by then and the very vivid colour of both these paintings meant I was only working with primary colours, plus black & white). I am not sure what this painting was about! - other than being vaguely something to do with disguise, carnival etc. I had temporarily given up on paintbrushes and the paint was applied here with offcuts of mounting card and a defunct credit card. Both c1985/86.

The last two are later c. 1990. Interested in aerial photography/mapping/landscape imagery more, a bit influenced by some of my ex tutors' work I think (especially Alastair Crawford's landscapes), mid C20th British landscape artists and contemporary Welsh landscape painting generally (although of course this is an English scene - the white horse at Uffington).

Spot the differences? The one above is the original study on canvas, while the one below is the much larger painting on a black ground on hardboard panel. I marginally prefer the study over the finished painting. Both are acrylic, thickly applied.

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