26 October 2021

Turner, Monet, and Bonnard: Back to the Future!

                                                                              EAF

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 2019? oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Here is another painting quite similar to the one I posted last week. I have no date for it but it seems to have the same feeling about it so I imagine it was done around that time. 

It's messy, frightfully so! And yet, I find something in it which is so strange, so compelling, almost artistically psychopathic, to be honest. Looking at it from afar I imagine a painter in desperation at not being able to get it all down right. It's scratched and scraped and looks like a hobo who needs to get out of the rain. But I love all this stilted imperfection of haste, it is a map of the battle scars, bitten by the wind on the sand dunes. Sadly though, most do not see it this way. They say to me:

"WHAT’S WITH THAT SCRATCH OVER THERE??”

“AND THAT SPLOTCH OVER HERE!!…. FOR GOD"S SAKE MAN, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!!"

I shrug and say little, "It is what it is".

But I really see now that this is my own personal voyage into in a landscape through a kind of Expressionism, and through Nature. And again, I see this from afar (at least two years late) but it strikes me as something so solitary, so tactilely alive, and so very awkward, that it is either a really good little painting or just a big flop. 

Suddenly, I am prompted to think of In a Landscape, the beautiful and harmonic piano piece by John Cage. It is a simple chordal melody repeated over and over again for several minutes.

I might view it in two respects. I can certainly view it from the latter perspective if I didn't know anything about Painting in a contemporary sense. But, as I am a painter who is searching for an answer to how Painting can evolve from its current unrestricted state of chaos, I could find something in this image which might hold a few keys. This always brings me back to an idea I have held deeply inside; It is one that wants to tether or moor Abstract Expressionism to Nature in a coherent way. I use Abstraction instead of Non-Objective to describe the latter half of the 20th century instead of the earlier half of it, because there is a nuanced difference between Kandinsky and Pollock. And I don't say "back to Nature" because Abstract Expressionism was never about Nature as far as I know. It was never tethered or moored in the first place in this American school of Painting though it was in France through the work of The Fauves in the early 30’s and 40’s.

Turner, Monet and Bonnard, all point to various  places somewhere out there in the future for me. Is there anyone interested in this voyage? Why do I pick these artists and not others? There are many others I could have added to this list but few who have melded the luminosity of colour with the simplicity of form (drawing).

Personally, I do believe it's possible to forge a pathway through the chaotic state of Painting in our age. But instead of looking around at what others are doing, I look backwards to them, for therein lies an answer for me and maybe others.

Below, is a strange and remarkable Bonnard! In it, one could learn so much about both form and colour. I recognise that I take a real risk by posting my own small effort on the same page as this mighty giant but it is, as they say: for educational purposes only!

When one adds Bonnard into this dogfight it can get really wild and I could write ten pages on this image alone but I always like to be brief so I will cut it off here while acknowledging that it could go on ad infinitum.




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