29 August 2011


26 August 2011

Sick of it

I am sick of how difficult it is simply trying to live your life as an independent human being trying to do something worthwhile with that life, surrounded by fucking morons.

Sure, there could be reincarnation or some other kind of afterlife, but I sincerely doubt it. And in any case, you can't count on it.

All you can be sure you have is the life you have now, and of that life it is the work you do that matters, not the lifestyle you lead, despite what the marketers tell you.

But it is so fucking hard doing something worthwhile. Every single step, there is some idiotic cunt standing there with some stupidly smug idiotic suggestion or objection.

Clueless motherfuckers, fuck off.

If you have nothing to say, shut the fuck up and get out of my way.

I should stop being so earnest.

25 August 2011

Something in Auckland to go to

Cave painting

I was very disappointed with Cave of forgotten dreams. I went twice.

I think the problem was that it was consciously made for middle America. If you consider your audience to be morons, the work you make will be moronic. That seems axiomatic to me.

As well as looking at the nice pictures, I wanted to know how they were made. Despite the film, I think I can reconstruct the process.

Let's say it is 35,000 years ago and you are a member of the world's second oldest profession. I think it more likely that you would travel around tribes and negotiate with the local shaman to exchange a painting for food and whatever other goods the tribe produces that you need. I doubt you would live permanently with the same tribe.

This is the same shaman who will, as soon as you leave, get the tribe fucked up on drugs and spray his stupid dots all over your nice composition.

You start by preparing your surface, by smoothing the cave wall, first with a stone adze and finishing with wet sand. You want the surface smooth and pale but not flat. You'll use the curves in the next stage.

The next stage is drawing the outline of your figures using charcoal and ad hoc perspective. You stand in the viewing spot and picture the finished figure on the wall in your mind. You draw the figure, stand back in the spot, and compare the drawing with the picture in your head.

You rub out half the figure and extend the lines further back around the curve.

Once you are satisfied, it is time to paint. You have pigments, a medium, and brushes. The pigments are from charcoal, clays, and plants. The medium is probably animal fat. No doubt you think that painting a representation of an animal using parts of that animal adds meaning and significance to that representation. The brushes are a mix of sticks with chewed ends and sticks with tufts of animal fur attached with leather and glue.

You also use the heat from your light source to help spread the paint.

24 August 2011

If I were completely insane

I would, next year when this Massey bollocks is finally finished, set up the Common-Sense Nihilist Party as a charitable organisation with an educational purpose and take on apprentices in my workshop, a common-sense nihilist painting school.

It would be run along strict early Renaissance lines (adapted for the context), which I think I understand well enough to replicate. You would start as a novice and pass degrees until graduating as a 3rd degree master.

To pass as such, you would of course have to be better than me, do things I cannot do. As Leonardo said, 'It is a poor master whose students do not surpass him,' which, as he well realised, was a sad indictment on himself. That's what you get when you dick around.

Luckily, though, I am not completely insane.


A painting is a sequence of spacetime events. The sequence as a whole is what matters, not the particulars of any of its constituent parts.

22 August 2011

Painting and baking

That's Maltese bread rising in the bowl there. Except it isn't really, cos I've adapted the recipe and changed a couple of ingredients. I call it Cauchi bread.

Rose freaked out when I foolishly mentioned that it shares an ingredient with the painting. Initially, she refused to eat it but soon relented when presented with the result.

This is experiment no. 2.

17 August 2011

Ice age hat

Given ice age conditions, it seems to me sensible to apply ice age solutions, so this is what I've been wearing on fleeting visits through the sleeting to the studio:

15 August 2011


A day of amazing sights

14 August 2011

Lech Majewski's The mill and the cross

I strongly encourage you to see this film. It's based on the book The mill and the cross by the art historian Michael Francis Gibson, which I very much want to read (get back up there, dollar!).

It's the old gnostic heretic story of Jesus as representative of a distant, detached god who can only set things in motion and then watch as they play out. Jesus is of course against the established authority of this corrupt world, who rule because ordinary people going about our lives (that's you and me, people, just in case there was any doubt (well, actually, I don't know about you)) ignore what's going on.

Conspicuously absent from this story, and quite rightly so, is the resurrection. As Charlotte Rampling, playing Mary, says repeatedly: 'Nothing's going to happen.'

That is because, even if there were an underlying reality behind this world of appearances, it is logically impossible for there to be any connection between them.

I love that idea of the mill, perched up high there in the distance. Fuck it's good. Let's not go into quibbles about how the machinery operates.

Something in Wellington to go to

12 August 2011

The good painting

I spent a lot of time in Akkers talking about the good painting.

This is something that is notoriously difficult to define. When I was in my early 20s, I thought I'd just lie around and think about it. I see no reason to contribute to this society. However, I found that, to think about painting properly, you need to make it. And then I found that, to make it properly, you need to exhibit it. You get far too close to the bloody things. You need someone else to tell you what you've been doing. And working out what that is from the lies and omissions is another notoriously difficult thing to do!

This is why I'm really happy with my show at Ivan's. I think it looked really good – the clearest statement I've yet made about what I think the good painting is (hence the title).

Trying to say the same thing through writing, on the other hand, I'm not so happy with.

Conceptual art

Massey update

I bumped into a friend the other day, and he hassled me for not updating what's going on at Massey here. 'They censored you, eh?' he said with a grin.

I pointed out that I've simply been mad busy. And, to their credit, that they haven't tried to censor me. I don't actually see how they could even if they wanted to.

I have had a couple of meetings to sort out supervision bizzo. It turns out one of my supervisors has been very ill, which I wish I knew about earlier. They've roped in an art historian from outside to help me with my writing, cos I need it.

I am very focused now on coming out of this debacle with the book I went into it for in the first place.

The conversation with the art historian was pretty amusing. It started with him sitting me down and carefully clarifying my intent: 'If you're just taking the piss, I don't want to be involved.' I said that, while there was a strong element of parody there, certainly, I want to present serious, academically rigorous arguments (hence the need for help). He said sternly, 'You can't have both!' I answered like a petulant child: 'But I want to have both!'

I am serious about not being serious!

08 August 2011

Obsidium generis humani


I want to do a fresco cycle in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

I would do it somewhere round here, cos that'd be much more convenient, but, what with the earthquakes and volcanoes and all, that'd also be stupid. Australia's fucked, but there's another big fuck off continent not too far away.

And I reckon it could look fucking fantastic.

It'd be better to do it on Mars, but Antarctica will do.

And back again

I got back from Auckland yesterday arvo. Rose was off at films all day of course, but I do recommend dogs for gratifying welcomes. At least someone in the world is pleased to see me! Ho ho.

When I talked to Rose's son, on one of his brief emergences from his cave, and described the vernissage and after party, he said 'So it was rich art cunts getting wasted.'

As a one line summary, I don't think that can be beat. Fuck it was weird. Apparently, last time was in three different areas you had to walk between. This year, it was much more compact, a series of looping circuits.

There you go, a reasonably representative sample of the New Zealand art world right there (not forgetting the Aussies). And all under the same conditions. The only significant difference seemed to be the angle at which you got the light at various times of the day.

The main impression I got was that far too many people put up far too much stuff. And then there was the hilarity. Well, you've seen the best thing I saw. I knew it was going to be crass and vulgar, but I wasn't quite prepared for how crass and vulgar. People really were buying stuff off the wall and walking out with it under their arm, to have something else slapped up in its place, like cans of soup in a supermarket. Un-fucking-believable. (Needless to say, the good dealers stay aloof from that kind of carry on.)

I am wiped out once again. The last five days are a jumble of pictures, people, and lots and lots of talking (quite a few really good conversations in fact – and a great talk by Liz, during which Andy and I broke out into spontaneous applause). And I was just there for laughs. I don't know how the dealers do it. It's a pretty full on endurance race.

Oh, and, really, the best thing I saw was the Ensor at Brett's. He also had an excellent book I might have to hunt down.

I had a great time.

06 August 2011

An idle thought

I might start another intertemporal avant-garde art movement to compete against common-sense nihilism. It will be called 'selfishism'.

05 August 2011

The best thing I saw on the night

Something to aspire to

Every great passion, be it love or hate, will in the end generate an authentic work. One may deplore it, but one must recognise it: Lovecraft was more on the side of hate, of hate and fear. The universe, which intellectually he perceived as being indifferent, became hostile aesthetically. His own existence, which might have been nothing but the sum of banal disappointments, turned into a surgical operation, and an inverted celebration.

The work of his mature years remains faithful to the physical prostration of his youth, transfiguring it. This is the profound secret of Lovecraft's genius, and the pure source of his poetry: he succeeded in transforming his aversion to life into an effective hostility.

To offer an alternative to life in all its forms constitutes a permanent opposition, a permanent recourse to life – this is the poet's highest mission on this earth. Howard Phillips Lovecraft fulfilled this mission.
– Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the world, against life

02 August 2011

A thought experiment

Okay, so imagine that some unknown force transports you and a sample of other people from the past with roughly similar socioeconomic and educational/occupational backgrounds to a prehistoric spacetime zone. It doesn't really matter which. Any time after flowering plants appear will do. Let's say up until 40,000 years ago. Somewhere temperate.

For the purposes of this experiment, let us assume that there are no representatives from our future. Let's also imagine that the unknown force provides each of you with some kind of magic universal translator device.

What do you think will happen? More specifically, how well do you think you'd survive, compared to the others?

I reckon you'd be crappest at everything that doesn't involve advanced technology, which in this situation means everything. You'd just be the crappest. (And this would hold no matter what kind of outdoorsy, huntin' and fishin' background you have.) I also reckon that cross-cultural misunderstanding would make sustained meaningful communication impossible, even with your universal translators.

I reckon it'd end up like on Pitcairn Island. The first attempts at community building fragment into armed individual strongholds, from which only one person survives into old age.

Unfortunately, that's the kind of species we are.

Except for the artists of course. We'd get along.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Answers on a postcard, please.
visitors since 29 March 2004.