13 March 2021

System D and the dream of barely nothing


   30 X 20, approximately, early 2000 oil on canvas board

A curious little thing which I made back in Dieulefit and landlocked in the Drôme region of France, maybe back in the early 2000's. A friend took it before I packed up everything to move to Australia.

It was made from almost nothing, a mere afterthought, or hardly a thought at all. This is why I liked it. It was a kind of dream in my head which expressed an image which would later become real for me. For me it works as simple as it is. On certain days, I can see the same sea and sky here in Australia. 

The following is one with a similar drawing, done in early 2020. I had written on the back of it a note to myself that it was made from a palette of just the tiniest pinch of titanium white. I remember it well for I had no white in my bag, I had forgotten to replenish it. I found only the smallest bit to recuperate from  the mouth of an empty tube by using a small stick.

I went to work anyway on this little canvas board. What can one do? Without Titanium white, one is stuffed. But I was determined to paint something that evening so I was pleased to find a solution. 

White paint is a necessity, and I use a lot of it. One could possibly make a very surreal-looking painting without it I suppose, but it would be a strange new planet. Now I keep extra tubes in my bag and in the car boot.

In French they call this sort of improvisational skill, System D. It dates back to WWII when everything broke down continually out in the war zone. With few tools, soldiers had to use all their wits about them to sort things out and get things working again. 

"Démerdez-vous!" (get out of the shit) was what their superiors shouted at them on some foreign soil while staring at a broken axle millions of miles away from a garage. Hence, 'System D' in the abbreviated form.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 11 January, 2020, oil on canvas, 22 X 16 cm

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