Damien Hirst’s art often relies on a gimmick or two; his spin painting for example – a fad introduced by the children’s TV series ‘Blue Peter’, re-presented as ‘high art’. Nonchalant, spurious commercialism – call it what you will, if he was less superficial, we might see this aspect of his oeuvre better developed.
Painting at the Royal Academy Schools
Post-graduate students at the Royal Academy Schools indulge in a deeper engagement with themselves and their Art. At the Schools I abandoned ‘authentic realism’ to explore the vagaries and nuances of painting in all its physicality. Due to an emphasis on European Academic tradition (drawing and painting the nude), I stockpiled skills and experience concerned with making ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ images, using traditional media.
Following in the footsteps of an Irish/Japanese student called Sean O’ Brien
(I literally took over his studio space when he graduated), I enjoyed flinging buckets of paint about and created heavily layered collages. This seemed mindless but since, I have utilised themes of Gothic rebellion combined with Classicism to create Art. The best things happen when there is a balance between Dionysian and Apollonian elements in the process.
I am grateful to Damien Hirst for popularising spin painting. In recent years I made and used three different contraptions for my work. A colleague from
St. Martin’s suggested putting figures into spin paintings. This is an example of one of my latest and largest works.
Klimt’s erotic drawings
I copied an image from Gustav Klimt’s erotic drawings using charcoal, on a large scale (about four foot square). The drawing is guessed to be of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Jewish wife of a wealthy industrialist, who Klimt was having an affair with. The light-hearted frolic is a pose no ordinary model could endure. Klimt’s enthusiasm for his lover’s contumely and striking looks, made him twist Adele’s figure to incorporate all of his subject matter.
I recently showed this painting at studio1.1 in Shoreditch, London, England. It was well received – described as colourful and striking by people who attended the exhibition including the BBC radio 2 DJ, Nick Grimshaw.
Method for creating the painting
I perforated line-work with a pattern cutter’s spur, then pounced charcoal powder through the holes onto raw canvas (an ancient technique). I fixed the dotty drawing, bolstering its line with Burnt Sienna. Next I used Roberson’s acrylic canvas sealer to protect the ground from an isolating varnish of petroleum jelly (vaseline) – applied to the surface, once dry. At this stage the image could easily have been a piece of nose art for an American bomber during World War II.
Spin paintings are fun, but costly – requiring organisation of materials, resources, time – and focused input . The stretcher is fixed to the tray of Contraption Mk II with screws. Spun at varying speeds, I saw several changes of colour occur during the process.
Watching a painting as it spins; letting the image settle in your mind afterwards is beguiling. There is a lot of change taking place and the usually slow, meditative activity of conventional painting is altered and challenged.
During the drying process cracking and blistering occurred over the isolating varnish. I lifted paint gradually, to reveal the drawing beneath. Then I didn’t know what to do. I drew into the Adele’s face some more. People visited my studio and responded; I was persuaded to keep it as is. The ghost of Adele Bloch-Bauer is suspended in a violent, energetic blast of colour. Gustav Klimt, Alan Dedman and Damien Hirst meet her and each other, on this unique canvas.
Artwork for sale here
This artwork is for sale: £2,500.00 gbp, $3,380 usd, 2,814 euros.
Square format: forty eight inches, acrylic on canvas with wooden stretcher, Terms and conditions of sale can be viewed here.
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