Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012 – Doing and Viewing – Howard Hodgkin Interview with John Tusa

July 17, 2012

Well, I paid my £10 entrance, and was it worth it?  Yes, just.  The sculptures were the high point, in my opinion.  What a jumble sale mix they were, and I loved it.  Wonderful.  A pleasure.  Fun with a capital F, U, and N!  Clever fun, interesting fun, skilled fun.  The painting always presents a good mix, but I was a little disappointed.  I just expect wonders all the time with painting, and I have some better memories of the painting last year.  That is not to say that I did not find some jewels.

Painting should be beautiful, and the painting by Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings IS beautiful.  The combination of opaque, white-i-full (Oh, my invented word, but I like it!) segments meeting with the transluscent, clear segments, this shimmering dance of shards, colour pieces, fragments, (whatever), they all resound very well.  This is clever and sensitive stuff. I loved to see the white beneath the film of pigment, with delicate texture, and then, to be kept away from the canvas by the opaque areas.  Yet, to see them working together in this way.  It is lovely.  I love it. “The Unseen” is worth seeing.

I liked the red room.  Very nice.  I mean the walls.  I liked that a lot.  I like the ceiling at the  Royal Academy. It is lovely.  Very nice indeed.  I LOVE listening to the people looking at the work.  Two ladies with VERY loud and raucous laughter fell around for a lot of the time I was there, reading out the prices of some of the work, and most particularly, the work that they felt they could easily do themselves.  Well, who could blame them?  I think this is all part of the fun.  And then the others, searching desperately for paintings of things that they recognise, for some sense of light and space, for objects, for something which holds anything they can relate to.  Some way to navigate.  Navigate in order to relate.

So now, in my thoughts,  I come to my favourite word right now “resonance”.  This word seems stuck in my mind, and I think it is because I have realised with my own painting that it is emotional resonance, maybe the striking of a particular chord,  the realisation and expression of emotion, which matters the most to me.  There is a kind of peace in this, and a release from the worry of feeling that it need be anything else.  I am also finding that I now feel my work itself is leading the way ahead.  I have kind of resigned myself to the sense that while I often agonise about this or that, in terms of direction, really I should just let what I am doing lead me, and look out, in an analytical way, for what is happening, think about why, and think about how I can respond to that.   Preoccupations do seem to be emerging.  Subject matter is always there, as is narrative, though it may be implicit, and not obvious to a viewers eye, I know it is there, and my painting is part of my narrative. There is always a story; if there is a life and a person, and a place and experiences, then there is always a story.  The work is part of that.  The problem many experience with abstract painting which appears to have no subject matter is that they cut off the work from the humanity of its creator.  They maybe idolise it, and seek to make it something that it is not.  ??

I have enjoyed reading the above John Tusa interview with Howard Hodgkin… How interesting with regard to this country and words!  I like words, but feel I am committing some kind of injustice most of the time when I write about painting, because words are words and painting is painting, but I also think that any artist should maybe also see themselves as an educator in the sense of their personal aims being not just to do their own work but to help other people to access the experiences which can be gained from it, wether in the doing or the viewing.

Oops, I have moved away from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  Paintings which resonated with me, and impressed, and instructed.  “Drinking Water” (oil and acrylic) The Baron.  Approximately £2,000.  Subject matter I like…water, as always.  Reflection. Boat. Destination/point of departure.  Oh but why was it hung so high up!  I could not see it as well as I would wish.  And who is this painter, because I cannot find an image of this “Drinking Water” painting by the mysterious “The Baron” to show you.   Another jewel was “Ridgeway Path” an oil painting by Tim Woodcock-Jones.  BEAUTIFUL.  Soft and luminous landscape, so so so breathing.  The furrows in the ground made maybe by a tractor.  Bliss, and here, it has been easy to find an image:

Always orientated towards the landscape, another gem:

“Landscape in Warwickshire” an oil painting by Timothy Gatenby and I also loved “Trees in Morning Light” (mixed media) by Maxine Hart.   Very pleased to see two paintings by Jeff Dellow, “Where White is the Colour” and “Vernal Layer” (both acrylic paintings). Both brilliant.  I stumbled across Jeff Dellow’s paintings last year when I applied for the artists access to  art college AA2A scheme at Kingston University (no success, sadly) as he is a Principal Lecturer at Kingston University.  I was doing a bit of research regarding the Fine Art Department there, and got happily distracted by his paintings.

Get happily distracted!

I cannot remember what I have posted painting wise of my own on this blog or not, but the painting I am most looking at  myself right now, from my own work is “Sorrow for Myself”.  Acrylic paint, acrylic mediums, pigments, sand, glass beads.

"Sorrow for Myself" not "Sorry for Myself".  And, thinking of my own faith in a Creator who weeps for brokeness, I was pleased to have arrived at this result which is true to feeling.

“Sorrow for Myself”  Abstract acrylic painting on canvas of figure bent over a running stream.

The narrative:  The weight is heavy. The sun sets. Broken fragments are carried away. Down stream.  This is sorrow.  Sorrow for myself.  Blood is shed, but it is the blood of Christ which covers. God is compassionate.

The reference:  “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;

it was our sorrows  that weighed him down.

And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,

a punishment for his own sins!”

It might be a good thing to do with some of my paintings, to have not only a title, but a “narrative” in words and also a reference, if this reflects the way that the painting speaks to me?   I don’t like the idea of people taking this as me being didactic about things.  It is not that, it is nothing, nothing at all, to do with the viewer  but it is helpful to ME to have some things crystallised in words, because I am learning, always learning, from the painting I do, and think that each painting does have its own objective, which is either met, or not.  This one, worked.

I think that anything of religious or faith subject matter can turn people off,  because it is not the “in” thing.  But happily, I couldn’t care less.  My objective is to be completely true to what I am doing, and if my paintings say something to me, then that is what they say.  It’s not all crosses and bible stories, life is expansive, very, very expansive.  And so is painting.  The horizons are limitless.

Very grateful to have been able to have a dear artist friend offer critique on my recent paintings.  This is SO important, because my eyes get tired and complacent, all of the time!


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