Thursday, June 2, 2011

Artist's Statement

Artists Statement

My paintings engage with their own visual history and explore the tension between image and medium. Through a reinterpretation of John Ruskin’s ideas I have developed a critical approach in my painting where both past and present can be channelled into the picture plane. In particular I explore Ruskin’s ideas of nature in the context of contemporary natural forms, such as atmospheric data and cosmic imagery. This has been significant for me in rethinking the idea of the landscape. Physically through disruption to the surface and the use of gesture I aim to keep my paintings shifting between states of clarity and intangibility.

The collapse into materiality within the paintings is inspired by Nicolas Poussin’s own physical deterioration and it’s impact on his late work. This degenerative shift plays with the dissolution of classical ideals in western painting and also creates an ambiguity open for interpretation, as remnants of recognisable imagery interact with the viewer. The qualities of paint and its behaviour of blooming, forming abstract shapes of it’s own, led me to create a motif in the vein of Wassily Kandinsky, yet one which is autonomous. Visually a mixture of this blooming effect and a microorganism the motif inhabits the painting, living upon the surface playing with both image and materiality.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some notes about my practice

Rough Notes

All my paintings have a mixture of ideas behind them I've tried to break them down into rough notes. These aren't strict classifications on paintings or the ideas, they all crossover...

Development of Ruskinian ideas in my paintings. (and through my thesis)

Ruskin: Truth to Nature

Nature as data

Nature as images of space, cosmos

Nature on a cellular level

Idea of Relation

Relation: Artist's responsibility. The intellectual quality from the relationship between the elements within the painting.

Relational: Viewer's contribution to the painting. How the viewers own knowledge relates to the elements the artist has made visible. The artist can play with the viewers own pre-conceptions in the paintings.

The relationship between the material and the image has become part my paintings:

Material language/painterly qualities & the image

The image collapses, is disrupted and there is suggestion through aesthetic conventions held by viewer.

Material: gesture, arrangement, colour & surface the paint

Truth as a Critical Practice

In brief, an interpretation of Ruskin's moral ideas about truth in painting into an awareness and understanding of the contemporary context and the history of painting and creating work in this context of the past & present, creating a complex, in a ruskininan way truthful, discourse


My paintings engage with their own visual history and instigate a conflict between image and medium. Through disruption to the surface and the use of gesture I aim to keep my paintings shifting between states of clarity and painterly intangibility. References gathered from various sources are secreted within the canvas and the reappraisal of nature as data generates curious abstract interventions.

Untitled. Oil on canvas 36 x 24"

The abstract organism

The abstract 'motif' as found in Kandinksy can be translated historically into paint's material autonomy.

What I mean to say is, now are these motifs images in themselves or still expressive gestures,

they have a historical context which makes this less clear.

The translation is in allowing paint to function autonomously as a material life-form on the canvas

This allows it to reassert itself away from this historical dogma.

The relationship between this painterly "organism" and the image it cohabits the canvas with

There is a surface layer and a depth/content. Either may carry images on and within them.

Perhaps the picture plane is built up of dimensions/slides with different events going on in them

One may be the landscape another a figure, another non-representational they bleed between each other or show through holes/transparency

The image collapses, the image rebuilds this is a cycle that goes on in viewing the painting

There is a shift between recognisable and non-representational the conventions found in the viewers mind help the work do this - it is relational in this respect.

Chemtrails & Untitled. Oil on prepared panel 36 x 24 "

Nature - data & satellites

Kandinsky's conversion of nature in to abstraction finds a parallel in satellite imagery of weather, atmosphere and space

where our environment becomes much more diffused and abstracted light and colour become very pronounced

Painting 1910 Oil on canvas 24 x 36"

Poussin’s Disease and Degeneration of an Icon

The collapse of conventions and icons in art is personified in the late work of Poussin.

His own physically deterioration lead to a looser more painterly style of work which is a pre-courser to the direction painting would take in its depiction of nature. This is a pathway to the abstraction and material life of paint itself. The material becomes more pronounced as the artist deteriorates. The collapse of image in to abstract shapes and arrangements (referencing Kandinsky in this way) is part of my practice and the deliberate damage to the surface of panels helps break the images grasp and lets the material become more present (the surface itself too)

Degeneration & Untitled. Oil on canvas 24 x 30" & 24 x 36"

Gallery of more paintings

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oil on panel 2011 90 x 60 cm

I chose this painting, the first large scale painting on a prepared panel, for the degree show catalogue.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Altarpiece for the Pigment and Oil with the Madonna and Child Enthroned

Following my desire to construct something for the interim show I created this altarpiece. The idea was to play with the relationship between image & material (the church and painting) moving a traditional medieval style altarpiece into something that brought the paint into the iconography.

In a way I wanted the Madonna to become a icon of the church and that style of painting while the child has become a material icon. The subtlety of this transition still leaves an intensely religious and recognizable image, yet, there is something untoward happening.

The dissolution of the traditional early renaissance aesthetic is visible
towards the sides of the central panel where the figures are collapsing/dissolving into abstraction and the whim of paint. This leads out to the 4 outer panels which are purely abstract and indulge in the gesture and character of paint, removing the typical iconography found in these panels such as the Crucifixion and annunciation.

The function of this contemporary altarpiece in the context of their availability in galleries and museums is as a redevelopment of previous work. It plays with the images of religion we already hold in our minds. While society has become much more secular leaving the whole idea of an altarpiece seemingly redundant paint has in some ways gained more significance over time, the
value of the religious icon may be lost but the material has survived and can become an icon itself.