31 July 2022

Satie and his childish children

Pan Am, Myocum, July 2020 oil on plywood, 180 X 120 cm

In the spirit of Ikigai which will be explained in the next post, here are two recent pictures from my studio. They are larger and they take a bigger place in one's life and wall space. Unlike the Evening Prayers done from the motif, these are 'non-objective' pictures meaning that there is no anecdotal message or story for the viewer. This is pure painting, painting for painting's sake. 
Being a fan of Erik Satie, I think of these paintings in much the same way that he composed many of his own small works. In some of his oeuvre he wanted to create a new genre of music that might appear to be incidental, accidental even. His compositions floated in the background and were to be appreciated while at the same time taking in other aspects of the present moment, a visual or a dreamy reverie. 
Erik Satie, for such an innocuously unpretentious man, inspired so many important and popular composers of the latter half of the 20th century. Our world today would be a different and poorer place without his lighthearted spirit of mirth. Nor would the works of John Cage, Terry Riley, Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich, among many others, be quite the same without Satie. He legitimised the art form of ambient music. Many visual artists during this era were also surfing the same kind of ambient form in art schools and lofts everywhere. 
And the second half of the 20th century brought about movement(s) and connections. Air travel became the obvious means of bringing artists together even faster than ever before. Suddenly fusions of so many different visual and plastic arts converged with science and music, politics and philosophy. Collaborations sprung up everywhere on earth like wild flowers. Being younger, I kind of missed this era by just a few centimetres, like a small boy who couldn't see over a fence because he was too short. 
OK,... but what I really wanted to explore is the idea of Ambient Art, but not like the riotous everyday household of Claes Oldenburg and the POP artists of the 60's. 
Mais non! I am looking for an ambient art that lives among us far more discreetly, one like an old photo of Erik Satie standing silently with an umbrella in a foggy street. 
In these paintings I thirst for an art form that knows its place in the room, one that knows where to place itself on a wall in the world, an art form that doesn't scream out to the poor guest as he or she enters such a space. 
Yet, also I long for an art form that lives and breathes the same air as the guest, one which is full of paint and full of tiny mistakes, one  with simple questions but complex answers too. And when they work, the colours are cousins and the drawing is fresh. There is nothing too extraordinary about them, they resemble those quirky, discordant measures in one of those Gnossiennes by Satie; magnificent and ephemeral but unremarkable all the same. For me that is their charm, these are paintings that inhabit my own walls purely for my own personal pleasure, and hopefully they won't scream at my guests, just surprise them.

Pan Am, Myocum, July 2020 oil on plywood, 220 X 130 cm

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