When I was a student at the Royal Academy Schools (RAS), we lived in a bijou flat in SW8. After a day’s life-drawing I would come home and vent my frustrations on A2 sheets of cartridge paper. I kept these and use them to remind myself of how things were.
Since Fentiman Road I have always done my ‘ball of shit’ paintings – which are an horrible exegesis of I don’t know what (but why should I?) Using a large support, board, canvas, wall etc I just draw and paint. After years of being hide-bound by the convention of pictorial correctness (good manners in Art), I have learned to do away with seeking anyone’s approval and just enjoy the rant. Les Demoiselles (de Barrow Gurney) is my latest.
The drawing master at the RAS was an old chap called Norman Blamey RA. Norman would work in a highly restricted way – with masking tape and palette knives. I never realised how important it is to formulate rules when creating paintings. By restricting yourself you are forced into new ways of making. I began my first big circumcision painting by not wearing any clothes except for a a blind-fold; that was my way in, technically speaking.
When I attended a group crit at a small gallery East London, I showed a little painting based on vintage playing cards which fell from the loft space above my studio. A continuation of my early experiences at St. Martins, when I worked at a strip-club in Soho. During the crit I was cautioned by women present who said ‘it could be a bit tricky for a man to do such things these days’; the discussion promptly turned to a female artist who uses porn for source material. This was annoying: if we live in a free and fair society, it shouldn’t matter what gender you are or what subject matter you choose. It’s about freedom of speech, innit? surely?
The work in progress here is a large canvas (8x4ft) based on ‘photo reference’. To make it more challenging I worked with a piece of charcoal attached to a 10ft long piece of bamboo. A technique I’ve used for theatrical scene painting. Doing all my drawing like this, I transferred the cartoon on to canvas by pouncing crushed charcoal through a tracery of holes formed with a pattern cutters spur – which I bought from a shop on Brewer Street, London.
I decided to call the painting ‘Les Demoiselles (de Barrow Gurney) satirizing: a) the British pre-occupation with anything ‘Art’ being so much more meaningful if it’s from France, b) the idea of Picasso’s ‘genius’ revealed through Les Demoiselles D’ Avignon.
Skipping the whole 500 preparatory drawings and ‘Bateau Lavoir’ mularky, I re-christened my temporary studio (which is a derelict hay-loft) ‘Le Greniere du Foin‘ and got on with the job. Establishing the underpainting in monochrome, this served as a springboard to go beserk with a paint brush denying all formal procedure in the process.
A veritable open sandwich of post-Punk irreverence and political incorrectness, this painting has it’s roots in trashy erotica and non-intellectual codswallop. I mean:- ‘Young Parisiennes are so French‘! I love the sense of freedom in the mark-making and painterly gesture. I love the boiling frenzy of colour and the way it flicks the v’s at the over-tweaked, over-preened luvvies of the Art cognoscenti.
And now for some more spinning penis paintings …..