Can’t wait for it to fill out with bountiful crunch
Hanging up to view, ’2 Acres and a Donkey’, a painting/drawing 5 meters long by 1 and a half high. Ink, acrylic, rabbit skin glue and oils on cloth.
Adding colour to another depressing but strangely satisfyingly shaped haul of washed-up trash. Why I like these battered shapes…something lodging in the primitive brain, I suspect. Perhaps a kind of gestalt. I move closer and closer to the two greats in my pantheon: Morandi and Guston. I have come to them from the side like a crab. A frontal appropriation has always failed by sending me into a withering and drying up. How can I possibly compare the muddy puddle on my paper before me with their masterpieces? Now in the beach trash on which I concentrate they are two specks, blurs in either corner of my eye, right and left. I could describe them as ghostly attendants but best to ignore them and let the wordless drawing process itself usher me in. I read somewhere this weekend that the self can only be found in those moments when you pay attention to this rather than that i.e. in the choice one makes among the myriad sensations flooding the brain at any single moment. I think drawing/ painting/ writing helps to solidify self because one is in a trance of choosing and choosing. That is why it feels so good (most of the time).
A matter of focus…shadows throw doubt on the matter. These are plume poppies. Their wildly serrated leaf margins, a giddy dance for the eye, contrast with their calm, green-grey openness, like palms being held up for us to read.
Castile soap ( 100% olive oil soap ) made by us, curing for the required 6 weeks, 6 months, whatever. It was a bit of a rocky process that went from failure to hope to failure to hope a few times in the making, but looking good now…
Already making suds!
The post below is illustrated with 2 paintings that are currently listed on my website under the heading Paintings and will be on exhibition at 6 Spin Street, Cape Town, for the month of October. The opening is on 5 October at 6pm.
This poem is about all of the paintings, brewed up over hundreds of sleepless nights, that never got to be but stayed in the realm of the great undone, the painting drought of many years that has thankfully ended. (Finally, victory over velleity!)
There was still a need however, even now, to give a passing nod to those somnifugous apparitions which were my teasing companions from my early twenties after art school had killed the love, confidence or power to paint ‘in daylight’.
That it translated into a poem with the same title as my up-and-coming exhibition is a bit of a paradox but what I do know is that the paintings I dreamed up in my head for all those years are not anything like the ones I am now making.
It is only retrospectively that I see connections in the current flood of real works to the themes of my soul, if I can put it that way. People forget that as an artist one is also a spectator, watching and observing the work as it unfolds, often surprising oneself, challenging old and outworn opinions that are carried about like heavy luggage – the work we think we should make – and lighting up new and unexpected paths, right there, in front of our noses, under our brushes.
The bigger ‘soul themes’ as I call them have not disappeared, though. Every now and then, comes a moment of recognition, old familiar friends in a new guise : “Ah, so here it is, this thing that has haunted me forever!”
But I have stayed from the point. This particular poem entitled ‘Noospheric Nights’ attempts to capture ghost-painting of the mind – frenetic, insistent, immensely engaging for the dreamer but ultimately sterile.
Raise your glass to all the paintings
now on show
that never left the night studio
never made it out the door
Still lives stillborn, social commentary
sweated out and tossed on the dark ceiling
No blood-spotted sheet to
display at dawn
The stacked canvasses, the piling of paper
unabated, all blank
Colours, strokes, scratchings
muted. And mutated
for every decade or two
they reappear like old friends at the door
Seascapes lapped the open-eyed shore
geometrics jangled in hot primaries
behind closed lids
The robot beggar at the half closed window
intercepted the woman’s abstract musings
coloured smoke rose from the head
hands stirred soapy dishes
The mind metaphors the mind
a compost heap that must be turned
are brushed out of the sheets
like crumbs the next morning
I now pronounce this exhibition open