19 December 2017

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 15 December 2017

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 6 December 2017, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

Continuing these small studies from a little rise in the dunes most nights brings one the a great sense of pleasure. Even if the entire day has felt wasted, or irrelevant, by making a small painting gives me satisfaction. 

30 November 2017

Evening Prayer, 24 November 2017

After a long hiatus, I am back to working from the motif most nights. As what Walter Pater sought in Art; experiences of brilliant intensity that promise "nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments' sake"*

Whether one is painting (or taking in a picture), it is thus.

So, an otherwise banal horizon is at the mercy of how the sun and the clouds dance over the sea. These are prayers and small meditations at twilight.

*Taken from that great book by Stanley Fish entitled How to Write a Sentence.

Evening Prayer, Brunswick Heads, 24 November 2017, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

06 May 2017

Richard Tuttle revisited

I confess that when I first encountered the work of Richard Tuttle I was aghast. And even the second time I encountered it in New York at the Whitney sometime in the 90's I was even more aghast. It went against everything I thought I understood about Art up until then. 

A few years later however, after a subtle immersion into the ideas surrounding Art and Nature in Japanese thinking, I awakened to the beauty of expressed minimalism, if I can call it that. Then I came across Richard Tuttle's work again, and I kind of fell in love for the first time. 

Looking backward barely 40 years it is hard to imagine that his works could have provoked such an outrage, but then his influence was a tsunami of sorts for young art students everywhere. In fact, I cannot think of an artist who has been such a driving force of influence in art schools, and in academic thinking generally than Tuttle. He has merged the Personal with the Academic, and not always for the better I think.

It is a minimalism which made meaty and materialistic America uncomfortable.  

30 March 2017

dusk at sea

This was done last week, very small at 25 X 25 cm. It is just a study of the mind, an excuse to mix the delicate colours of twilight when everything goes to the grey tones.
I read recently that painting could be really 'important' (meaning, I suppose of a political or socio-ethnic kind of statement)
Or, it it was referred to as a 'pastime' which was pejorative. I rather liked it; Pastime, even better, maybe; Past times in painting.
It is after all a kind of meditation one can make before Nature. 

24 March 2017

Twilight series at the beach in Australia.

                                                        March ? 2017, 25 X 18 cm

What can seem like a banal beach scene often turns into something magical just after the sun sets behind me. These are studies of just the sea and sky. Whatever happens, in any weather I try to interrupt it with paint.

22 March 2017

a sad day for artistic and intellectual freedom....

White Artist’s Painting of Emmett Till at Whitney Biennial Draws Protests

Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket,” a 2016 painting in the Whitney Biennial. Collection of the artist 
The open-coffin photographs of the mutilated body of Emmett Till, the teenager who was lynched by two white men in Mississippi in 1955, served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement and have remained an open wound in American society since they were first published in Jet magazine and The Chicago Defender at the urging of Till’s mother.
The images’ continuing power, more than 60 years later, to speak about race and violence is being demonstrated once again in protests that have arisen online and at the newly opened Whitney Biennial over the decision of a white artist, Dana Schutz, to make a painting based on the photographs.
An African-American artist, Parker Bright, has conducted peaceful protests in front of the painting since Friday, positioning himself, sometimes with a few other protesters, in front of the work to partly block its view. He has engaged museum visitors in discussions about the painting while wearing a T-shirt with the words “Black Death Spectacle” on the back. Another protester, Hannah Black, a British-born black artist and writer working in Berlin, has written a letter to the biennial’s curators, Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, urging that the painting be not only removed from the show but also destroyed.
“The subject matter is not Schutz’s,” Ms. Black wrote in a Facebook message that has been signed by more than 30 other artists she identifies as nonwhite. “White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.” She added that “contemporary art is a fundamentally white supremacist institution despite all our nice friends.”
The protest has found traction on Twitter, where some commenters have called for destruction of the painting and others have focused on what they view as an ill-conceived attempt by Ms. Schutz to aestheticize an atrocity.
10m: Dana Schutz should have read Saidiya Hartman before she turned Emmett Till into a bad Francis Bacon painting. 
— cathy park hong (@cathyparkhong) 
@whitneymuseum I think it's mighty disrespectful for you all to display Dana Schutz' photo of Emmet Till. You should really remove this
— Mahdi 陈 🌹 (@My_D_) 
Mr. Bright, in a Facebook Live video of his protest, makes some of the same points in objecting to the painting’s inclusion in the show. The biennial is an unusually diverse exhibition of work by 63 artists and collectives; nearly half the artists are female and half are nonwhite. Calling the painting “a mockery” and “an injustice to the black community,” Mr. Bright adds that he believes the work perpetuates “the same kind of violence that was enacted” on Till “just to make a painting move.”
“I feel like she doesn’t have the privilege to speak for black people as a whole or for Emmett Till’s family,” Mr. Bright says in the video. He also objects to the thought that the painting could be sold and make Ms. Schutz, whose work is highly sought after, a significant amount of money.
Ms. Schutz, who first exhibited the painting last year in a gallery in Berlin, has stated that she intends never to sell the work. In a statement on Tuesday, Ms. Schutz said: “I don’t know what it is like to be black in America but I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till’s only son. The thought of anything happening to your child is beyond comprehension. Their pain is your pain. My engagement with this image was through empathy with his mother.” She added: “Art can be a space for empathy, a vehicle for connection. I don’t believe that people can ever really know what it is like to be someone else (I will never know the fear that black parents may have) but neither are we all completely unknowable.”
The curators said that they wanted to include the painting because many of the exhibition’s artists focus on violence — racial, economic, cultural — and they felt that the work raised important questions, especially now, in a political climate in which race, power and privilege have become ever more urgent issues.
“For us it was so much about an issue that extends across race,” said Mr. Lew, who along with his co-curator, Ms. Locks, met with Mr. Bright on Tuesday to discuss his protest. “Yes, it’s mostly black men who are being killed, but in a larger sense this is an American problem.”
Ms. Locks said: “Right now I think there are a lot of sensitivities not just to race but to questions of identities in general. We welcome these responses. We invited these conversations intentionally in the way that we thought about the show.” She added that she felt the painting was a means of “not letting Till’s death be forgotten, as Mamie, his mother so wanted.”
The story of Till’s murder has begun to resonate loudly again in recent months. News recently emerged that the Mississippi woman who said that the 14-year-old Till whistled at her and was verbally and physically aggressive — an account that led to Till’s abduction, torture and killing — told a historian in 2007 that she had made up the most sensational part of her account.
The Black Lives Matter movement and greater awareness of the killing of black men by the police have led to efforts to film the Till story, with at least three screen adaptations in production.


22 February 2017

The green sea

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 15 February 2017, oil on canvas, 21 X 26 cm

From about a week ago comes this study from a dune at the beach where I work most nights. Its a very banal beach scene until the sun begins to set, then, all hell breaks loose.
And it's a great meditation on the sea and clouds.

20 February 2017


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 5 February, 2017, oil on canvas board, 21 X 26 cm

I am woefully negligent in keeping up this blog but hopefully I will get back to it on a regular basis.

I have been working from Nature, specifically at the beach in front of an immense sky and   thick band of sea. One could say it is a 'banal' vision of unordinary beauty. A beach and sky is all it is. And I use the word beauty with care because it is such an emotionally charged idea for so many post-modernists. However, beauty is a deeply personal concept, if one can call it that. It is certainly more than just a word even as highly over-used as it is. It is right up there with genius in its overuse. After all, John Keats did say in Ode to a Grecian Urn 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'. Obviously, being a romantic, I am from another planet when it comes to all this. But I am a painter who too, who in front of Nature simply wishes to transmit an emotional feeling to another human being. But this is not the reason I paint. I paint because it makes life more real for me, and I live better each day as a result.

About a month ago I began a series of small studies done just as the sun has dropped back behind the earth's horizon. It is that time of day when Nature prepares for sleep commonly know as Twilight, or Dusk; both equally sensual in meaning and in sound. It's a time of day when I finally awaken. The French call it 'l'heure entre le chien et le loup' The hour between the dog and the wolf, otherwise known simply as 'the hour of the wolf'. But I am not really comfortable with this. For me it is a time when everything moves with delicious speed. The colours in Nature prepare for death it could be said, and felt. At the sea, with my back to the setting sun, I witness this moment when all colours in the sky correlate chromatically with those of the sea below. One has such a small window within which to operate. And, indeed I often feel like a kind of solitary surgeon desperately trying to keep a small painting alive as all hell break loose in front of me. It is for this reason that one works. Turner, for whom I have always felt an affinity, loved the wild and destructive force of the sea, and it is known that he had himself even attached to the mast of a ship during a storm at sea. 

In any case, at the end of a long day, painting these small things is a ritual of great importance for me.

More to be revealed.

28 January 2017

Nadal, and the art of photography!

Such a marvelous photograph! If I knew the artist's name I would credit him or her.