Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Subway Reading

I found a magazine on the laundry room bookshelf: Turps Banana Issue 6. The laundry room is my favorite library. I find the best stuff there. It makes doing the laundry not only bearable, but a bit of a treasure hunt.

I read this article by Tom Phillips - "Biography of a Painting 2". He is a British painter. Here is an excerpt:

"14th March '08

.....Just as the novelist reaches a certain point where his characters, empowered by a sudden and mysterious accession of free will, begin to act and speak for themselves and to contradict their creator's intentions, so the artist is surprised when the shapes in his painting start to clamour for a similar autonomy. They argue with the painter and amongst themselves. The artist who started as captain now doubles as umpire.

The last thing I do every night is to look in the studio, inspect the day's work, and think about the general state of play. Also, unbreakfasted and teeth as yet unbrushed, it is the first thing I do each morning. I like to see whether, say, yesterday's radical gesture has been absorbed by the image as a whole. It is a constant of infanthood to imagine one's toys and dolls having a communal life of talk and action when their owner sleeps. So with that same childlike optimism I look to see if any problems might have been resolved while my eyes were shut.

This can also prove to be the Frankenstein moment when a picture that, left in apparent calm, seems to have had a bad night groaning its dissatisfaction at recent changes.

.....Certain marks press for revision, for a second chance. While one of them begs for fusion with a neighbouring element another is suing for divorce from its present partner.

.....But at least I am still in charge though I know from experience that a moment comes when the work banishes its creator. In the end it is the painting that declares itself finished.

The artist will enter the studio one morning and find, almost with brush poised, that the picture is as out of bounds as a taped-off crime scene.

It must then be accepted WAF as the book dealers' catalogues say, with all faults. If I want to improve things my only option is to do so with another painting."

Here is a scan of the painting he was discussing. This is a pretty bad image of it. I tried to find an image of the work on-line. Couldn't. His paintings vary widely from abstractions to portraits. You could see those on his website.

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