24 October 2008

Van Gogh goes off

The third one is almost better and is a sketch of the market he did last year, which seems, however, to have changed since then to represent a Spanish rather than a Dutch market, at least so far as anything can be made out in it at all. What sort of wares are being sold in the market, where it may be – I, for my part, doubt it is meant to be on this globe, and to the naive spectator it would seem to represent a scene on one of the planets that Jules Verne's miraculous travellers were in the habit of visiting (by projectile). It is impossible to be specific about the wares actually being sold, though seen from afar it could be enormous quantities of candied fruit or sweetmeats.

Now, you try to imagine something like that, but as absurd as can be and heavy-handed to boot, and you have the work of friend Breitner. From a distance it looks like patches of faded colour on bleached, mouldering, and mildewy wallpaper and in that respect it has some qualities, which to me are none the less positively objectionable.

I simply fail to comprehend how it is possible for anyone to produce such things.

22 October 2008

Sigismondo Malatesta

The dog and castle in the previous post’s pic belonged to Sigismondo Malatesta, the Wolf of Rimini. Sigismondo was pretty full on. His motto was something like ‘Whatever I do benefits the State’.

He is rumoured to have poisoned his first wife and to have strangled his second with a napkin at the dinner table, though both rumours might well be calumnies spread by his political enemies. He certainly neglected them in favour of the servant girl who became his third wife.

Pope Pius II enacted a special papal Bull enrolling him as a citizen in Hell and burnt him in effigy in Rome. Sigismondo didn’t have much time for religion. He said, ‘Even if God did exist, why would he pay any attention to us?’

The fresco I’ve ripped off is in the Tempio Malatestiano, which was a church that Sigismondo transformed into a kind of pagan temple. I have a theory that it’s actually one great big magic spell, but I won’t go into that here.

21 October 2008

Another crappy photo

The Even Greater Depression

Who could've predicted that free-market capitalism would eat itself?

Oh yeah, Marx did.

This financial crisis is a bit of a laugh, isn't it? People say the art world's full of nothing but hot air but, unlike the financial industry, at least we produce something tangible.

19 October 2008

Quote of the day

I told him about my rooms in the Ile Saint-Louis and the art school, and how good the old teachers were and how bad the students.

'They never go near the Louvre,' I said, 'or, if they do, it's only because one of their absurd reviews "discovered" a master who fits in with that month's aesthetic theory. Half of them are out make a popular splash like Picabia; the other half quite simply want to earn their living doing advertisements for Vogue and decorating night clubs. And the teachers still go on trying to make them paint like Delacroix.'

'Charles,' said Cordelia, 'Modern Art is all bosh, isn't it?'

'Great bosh.'

- Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

17 October 2008

On underpainting

The colour in the previous post’s pics is the watercolour and gouache underpainting. Once I’ve done something similar to the Piero one, I’ll start on the oil glazes for all three.

The idea is to build up layers of transparent colour (except for the gouache). In the finished painting, the light passes through these transparent layers and reflects off the white ground, giving it an inner glow.

Traditionally, you’d use oil paint diluted with turps for the underpainting. The reason for using turps is Rubens’ principle of ‘fat over lean’, where you put layers with more oil content over layers with less (to prevent cracking). The problem is that different pigments have different amounts of oil added to them to make oil paint, which complicates this process considerably.

My solution is to avoid the problem and use watercolours instead. Needless to say, they have no oil content. I then only have to worry about the glazes. That’s bad enough. I’m quite capable of getting horribly confused.

The other aspect of underpainting where I depart from tradition is the choice of colour. Traditionally, you’d use monochrome, usually in grey (called grisaille), or complementary colours. So in the latter case you’d underpaint the sky orange and the grass red, etc. As you can see, I do neither.

16 October 2008

The copies of copies

I'm quite enjoying these crappy photos.

The original copies

These are the two Picabias I'm currently ripping off. Woman with idol is the one on the right of the top pic.

What I like is that I'm doing copies of copies. Woman with idol was based on a picture in a 40s porn magazine, with the doctor in the original replaced by the idol. Adoration of the calf is based on a photo in a surrealist magazine.

The Piero I'm ripping off could also be classed as a copy, given that the dotted lines from the pouncing are still visible. Pouncing is the method Renaissance artists used to transfer drawings from a cartoon on to a wall to be frescoed.

14 October 2008

Bollocks to that

Last week, I took down the few comic pages I’d drawn up from the studio wall and put them away. I’d found the first draft, read through it, and thought about it for a bit. I hadn’t been enjoying doing it anyway. It was boring and tedious, and I wasn’t that happy with the result. After reading through the whole thing for the first time in a while, I decided I needed to go back and start again from scratch, with a totally different approach, at some unspecified future date.

Instead, I thought I’d do some fun paintings, copies of things I want to have on the wall. So I’ve whipped up a quick black square (see previous post), and now I’m working on a couple of Picabias and a Piero. They’re straight copies. The differences are the size (25 x 29 cm), the treatment (the old watercolour and oil glazes bizzo), and the words in large letters on the top of each image. These are ‘society’ for Picabia’s Adoration of the calf, ‘cubism’ for his Woman with idol, and ‘surrealism’ for the dog and castle from Piero’s fresco in the Tempio Malatesta.

12 October 2008

Black square

06 October 2008

Exquisite corpses

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