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I’ve been having a pleasant and soothing time dwelling on things close to my heart. Irony isn’t one of them.

In recent years contemporary painting has been validating itself with self-aware parody, cynicism and irony. So as an eager young artist I developed a way to fit into this mode of criticality. The work I did for my masters (click link in blogroll at top left) was a strategic, carefully planned foray into making work that was witty and clever, as well as indulging in a form of classical painting that tickled my fancy. The results were magnificent – that sounds vain – and it is, but that’s what it was all about anyway. I wanted to make the boldest, slickest work possible, pushing myself forward as “The Prince of Painters” struttin’ his stuff and engaging with contemporary critical discourse. 

After making “The Philistine” (see first blog) and receiving many positive comments and feeling like my grand vision was hitting the mark, someone commented that it all seemed a bit flat, detached and clinical. True. And the dominating message was my love of painting. True. It was all brains and brawn but it had no heart or soul. I wasn’t being as honest as I could be. The love of painting was genuine, the issues and the critique were something I felt was a necessary addition to be taken seriously by the art world. I didn’t really want to mock painting, I love painting! The issues addressed are interesting but what would I paint if I didn’t bother trying to make my art all hip and contemporary? What images and issues are important to me?

I don’t have any interest in the grotesque, the abject, death, decay, vulgarity, and deconstruction. They are the currency of much art today but not something that flicks my switch. Clinging to avant-gardism and the relentless pursuit of novelty has also lost it’s gloss. As conservative as it seems, I want to paint sweet flowers, portraits of my beautiful wife, rich landscapes full of history and depth, which sound like the sort of thing your Nana might like. If sincerity was my new benchmark then joy, love and beauty are the issues most pertinent. I have a great life, I’m not bitter, angry or tortured. Recently I have been exploring specific interests through subjects that I find visually affirmative, personally potent and conceptually engaging. This work aspires to celebrate life through a medium that enthrals with its primary visuality. I aim to engage an audience in a deep way about important images, ideas and issues; making art in ways that I love for people I care for.

What on earth will all this look like? Am I in danger of becoming the Michael Buble of the art world? If someone calls me Katie Melua I will burn all my brushes. But perhaps by opting out of the current fashion, the work will stand out. “Moving with the times places you in a blind spot: if your part of the general tenor, it’s difficult to add a dissonant note.”S.Price(2002)Dispersionhttp://www.distributedhistory.com/Dispersion08.pdf                           This could put my career in jeopardy. Many galleries look out for things that “look like art”, they don’t really have a clue but if it looks like something out of step with the trends, they won’t touch it with a barge pole. 

Maybe I’ll eventually refute these statements and go back to satire and irony, they are kinda fun things, but for now I’ll speak direct and clear. As an example the image below is a recent work “Mother and Child”. It is a partial copy of a Raphael painting “Madonna of the Chair” that I chose for it’s sweetness and tenderness. Despite it’s original religious references it is simply a mother loving a child, a depiction of one of the strongest bonds in humanity. 

 

Mother and Child.    2009, oil on canvas, 542 x 453mm.

Mother and Child. 2009, oil on canvas, 542 x 453mm.

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