I'm assembling an art zine. The deadline for submissions to the first issue is July 31st. It will be A4-size. Handmade. Photos, collage, vispo, mixed media or whatever else you do will be considered. All contributors will be sent a copy. Previously unshown work is preferred. Send files to: rtomens(at)gmail.com
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Charity shops are mad person magnets, right? That's not why I like them. I am not mad. Honest. But...
...the girl in Mind on Kentish Town High Street looked at me as if I was mad, not just a sane person commenting on the fact that I was playing Joy Division only yesterday and it was a funny coincidence that She's Lost Control was on when I went into the shop....
...nothing. Not even a smile. Instead, a look that said "Are you another mad person?" in the subtlest of signalling via her pierced physiognomy because: a) she's used to mad people b) she cannot display outright disapproval verbally and most importantly c) it is a mental health charity....
...not that I've noticed a higher quota of mad folk in there than any other charity shop. The reason being, I suppose, that they aren't about to pay money into a charity from which they benefit...or are they?
Besides, I don't like the term 'mad' even though I sometimes aim it at those who through no fault of their own (other than people damaged from alcohol/drug abuse...some of whom happen to be my friends) have mental health issues. Hold on, if that's the right definition we should all be recipients of charitable help from Mind, probably.
Daily life provokes mental health issues. Yes, when you get that bill you can't afford or watch someone jump that queue you're in or sit in the office thinking you really could have had an interesting career as a writer/artist/filmmaker if you'd tried harder or the times you look at your partner and wonder who the hell they really are and why you sometimes want to kill them when you might be better off catching fish on a remote Scottish island or thumbing your way around the world...you know, having adventures...instead of being a domesticated, routine-bound worker ant in the capitalist colony...
...worry or think about your life too much and you will go mad...or make radical changes and do something interesting but the odds are long on that one. If I didn't make art it's possible that I'd go mad. People who say that kind of thing risk mockery from non-artists because they don't see why what the artist does is so special..."I mean, it ain't Picasso, is it?" No, it ain't. It's more important because it's what an 'unknown' individual is creating and getting little applause for and certainly not much (if any) money, never mind fame.
It's probably 'mad' to carry on but since I make art for myself and hopefully a few appreciative viewers it feels worthwhile. For now. Meanwhile, back to where I started, it would be mad not to recognise the greatness of Joy Division, wouldn't it?
Monday, 25 June 2018
"But you must be spiritual," a friend says to LJ. Because she's an artist, he means. The same day, an FB friend posts that he's had to unfollow a few people because they insist on posting 'spiritual' memes. Unfollow? I'd unfriend them, but that's me and that's why I follow so few people on Facebook. Not because they post 'spiritual' memes, but because they're either total bores of have OCD which manifests itself right there. Piss off.
This Spiritual Artist crap has gone on long enough, as long as the you-must-be-able-to-draw shit and all the other antiquated plain wrong artist myths. people crave spirituality these days like they crave religion - "Please give my life meaning because otherwise it's a totally insignificant life I'm leading here when all I do is listen to shit music and watch awful films along with the dregs of humanity called 'celebrities' on TV - help me, Lord! I need to believe!" Try doing something interesting you wankers.
I've never looked at a piece of art and seen or felt anything 'spiritual'. I'm not 'religious'. I won't kneel before any icons or ever visit the church of John Coltrane because it's backed by God-botherers, obviously. Now, about Coltrane, A Love Supreme may be fueled by his spirituality so, well, whatever gets the job done but it's never caused me to feel anything but pleasure, although not as much pleasure as I get from the music he made before he got religion. I'm assuming he got religion late, though I don't know and don't care...
...retards relishing the romanticised notion of the artist as 'seer' probably still think we all dream of a garret in Paris (I wouldn't mind) wherein we starve and suffer mental turmoil over paintings which usually fail to express what we feel in the very depths of our tortured souls. It can only be non-artists who believe any of this crap, surely. But hold on, there are plenty of dabblers of also want to believe, or even do believe, that their paintings of storm clouds over mountains express something 'spiritual'. Of course. And plenty more who, when not painting portraits of friends which reveal the very nature of their souls, commune with nature, sitting under trees (having hugged them) in order to...er...be spiritual. Yes, my friend, it takes all sorts.
Let's aim lower. In fact, higher. Let's keep it at ground level, devoid of 'spiritual' crap and stuffed instead with shit, snot, glue, vomit, boredom, emptiness, anger, joy (if you must)...anything but pseudo-spirituality. Let's render visions of total aesthetics, even. Draw a straight line. Draw a crooked line. Better still, get the computer to do it. Be minimal. Be maximal. Be totally abstract. Even Be Yourself, whatever that means. We're all our own people, it's just that some folk suck up too much from others to form anything like a true Self. Fuck originality. You'll lose. No, you'll make yet another novelty idea. You might get into Frieze! Go ahead. Make something good or bad. Make something because for as long as you don't some arsehole is filling the world with shit you hate. It's your duty. If you don't make something They will, all of them...look...filling the world with kitsch digital art, landscapes, sunset photos, street art, Goth art, soft porn blah blah. You know the saying: If You're Not Part Of The Solution You're Part Of The Problem.
Friday, 22 June 2018
|Synthesis, R.Tomens, 2018|
"He can't even draw!" she said over the phone.
Hold on, this is the 21st century, isn't it?
The way some people talk about art, I wonder sometimes.
Unlike the broken narrative of avant-garde cinema or literature, where the radicalism is obvious, as are the reasons for many people rejecting it, visual artist's need do very little to upset conservatives. Conceptualism will provoke alarm, naturally, but there are so many other ways that I don't have time to list them. That's just a print! (Ed Ruscha). Why has that goat got a tyre around it? (Robert Rauschenberg). Etc. Oh, and as for art made on a computer or even (horror) a smartphone...forget it!
As if the art world (it's out there somewhere, I think) isn't riddled with enough snobbery and elitist gate-keeping, the public are worse. They should be free from prejudice yet remain shackled by both ignorance and conditioning which takes the form of a historical imperative based on the classical status quo. Books must have a recognisable beginning, middle and end, as should films. And art, quite obviously, should be made by people who can draw.
Monday, 18 June 2018
Bored at Work I Google 'art blogs' despite previous experience telling me I'll not find one that I like. On one of those 'Best Art Blog'-type lists I notice a recurring theme based are being 'positive' and offering advice....being smiley, upbeat and exuding gorgeous, white-toothed, wholesome optimism...FUCK OFF!
I also note that cartoonists seem to be popular...well WTF...when looking for artists cartoonists ain't what I have in mind...
...but that's how you get 'popular', right? You do popular, upbeat shit. No-one wants to follow an artist's blog that's full of misery about how no gallery accepts them or they made no money last year (boo-hoo), do they? As far as I can tell at least half the blogs begun by artists died years ago (they kept checking the stats). Popular is telling nice life stories about...I dunno...a trip to the mountains with the kids...and here are the photos...(see, I have a rich, well-rounded life as well as working in the studio at my lovely watercolour depictions of...birds! Which you can buy in my brilliantly well-organised shop)...etc...
...good luck to them. Meanwhile, this series is called Smile. The top one is the original print derived from my own fotos and a found image. Thanks for dropping by...ta-ta for now! (Next post: my happy life and how you too can be a happy person).
Monday, 11 June 2018
Sometimes the road, or in this case, the steps, really do lead nowhere. That's not actually true since they lead to what I think were the backs of residential buildings on West End Lane in West Hampstead. I didn't continue for fear of invading the privacy of those who obviously didn't want strangers poking around, hence the message scrawled on the wall just off the street at the base of the steps. I didn't see the message until I'd been to the top and back down...
...still, can I use the photo/message as a metaphor? If I want. Sometimes stairways lead, not to heaven, but 'nothing'. We've all done it, whether the 'stairway' is a click bait link on the screen or a telephone inquiry to a large corporation; you go nowhere. Or at least, nowhere that's of any use.
Occasionally people have asked me where I 'want to go' with my art. I've always found that impossible to answer. Where do artists 'go'? Presumably, for the ambitious ones, they see themselves on a set of steps to recognition and subsequent financial reward. As you may guess, that's never been me. The first and possibly last place I want to go is the completion of a piece of art. That said, through chance and, very rarely, self-promotion, I've got somewhere in terms of exhibitions and publications.
It's an old adage but I'll dust it off again, artists (musicians etc) must create first and foremost for the love of their art. Obvious? Perhaps, but how many set off every day/year with a view to climbing those steps to Success before really discovering themselves as artists? OK, I know that's a lifetime's work, to me at least. Others hit on a 'winning' formula and cease discovering anything other than the next way to present their Vision...again and again.
If my 'steps' lead to 'nothing' in the eyes of some, so be it - I don't care. If they lead to places I'm happy to be in, that's good. First and foremost, though, as in the second of these two photos I took on Sunday, the steps lead to a dazzlingly bright place. It may be a place of my imagination, or simply a piece of work I'm very happy with. Either way, what drives me and many others is the idea that there is something 'up there'.
Friday, 8 June 2018
|Certain Indifference, R.Tomens, 2018|
Dress down Fridays at Work is usually an excuse for employees to commit sartorial crimes and go unpunished; for me it sometimes means being able to wear a jacket with one of Mark Pawson's badges pinned to the lapel (that's how radical I am!). A favourite is from the John Cage set he made. Nobody has ever commented on it, until today.
A woman who works close by stopped me and said 'What does that say?' I showed her and some explanation was necessary, obviously, so I said it related to an 'artist from the 50s (no, I wasn't about to give a rundown of the decades he actually operated in or all the disciplines he covered) who made a recording called Four minutes, thirty-three seconds, it was silent'. She half-smiled and walked away, saying to the air something including the term 'arty-farty'.
I went away and thought about the term 'arty-farty'. I wondered if an equivalent existed in other languages, or is the philistine put-down particular to Britain (and America?). Put-down? Well, it is, by it's very essence, which is to suggest that anything deeper, artistically, than an oil painting of the countryside, or a portrait, is...'arty-farty'. Or worse, it's used by completely ignorant folk for whom art is an alien concept.
Is liking Ed Ruscha 'arty-farty'? Is making a print such as the one above 'arty-farty'? Is going to Tate Modern 'arty-farty'? I don't know. It's most likely to be used as a class weapon, perhaps, as in the 'arty-farty' crowd who, by the very nature of both class and culture (in the UK), will be middle-class.
Whatever. Perhaps next week I'll wear the I Love John Cage one...and probably be considered gay.
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
9.10 am, on the 91 bus to Crouch End doing what nobody else is - namely - reading a book. Not that I consider such an act either particularly noble, rebellious or outrageous, only that, looking up from my copy of How German Is It by Walter Abish, of which I have only read 12 pages so far but from those alone am very impressed, I noted that most other occupants of the top deck were, of course, quite naturally, glued to their little screens. I almost said 'reading their little screens', but suspect that at least half would be partaking in that activity commonly known as 'zombie scrolling', which is not commonly known as that at all, since I just made up the expression.
Possessing only an ancient Nokia mobile phone which, although fairly 'smart', is stupid compared to newer ones and still remains smarter than me, I am not tempted and neither is it possible to join the rest of the Western world in their addiction. However, worryingly, I may soon be able to courtesy of an upgrade, insisted upon by Work, which believes them necessary, no doubt under the illusion that the workers all use them only for important matters of business when in fact they can be used for social media, unlike the Work laptops, on which blocks are in place to prevent idlers socialising instead of doing their jobs.
I only use my mobile to occasionally call Home and receive a call from either Home or a man who has had the wrong number for a couple of years and texts every Christmas to wish me and the family all the best. I really should reply this year, thanking him for the sentiment but informing him that I am not the person he thinks I am.
Aside from being an exception in my reading habits on buses I also go against the grain by writing in notepads, especially outside cafes. Sometimes, whilst doing so, I am not who I am but who I think I might be in another time. It's not even a fantasy, as such, but an imagining of Paris in, say, the 1940s, when, I believe, even if only as romantic thinking, writers would sit outside cafes on the Left Bank, making notes for novels in which characters grapples with, what else, existential angst. That or formulating essays on existence for newspapers and magazines.
I may, however, be more suited to cafe/bar life of another kind, getting drunk with Jean-Michel Mension and the 'tribe' along with committing petty crimes, all as part of a proto-Lettrist gang of sorts. Whilst not being an 'easy' lifestyle, as such, it would have been easier than trying to write a novel.
I used to write novels, none of which were published. I was another kind of writer then. Today I prefer to communicate via this site and construct visuals, such as the one at the top of the page. It is coincidental that it should comprise of a book and text when I considered reading literature this morning on the bus. I made the piece a few days ago. But life has a habit of mirroring art, of catching up with creative activity somehow, doesn't it? It's as if, sometimes, the motor that drives a creation then dictates movement towards a correlation in life outside. More likely, of course, that once the senses are alerted to visual content they are more likely to notice connections with them in the world.
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Warm, sunny Sunday morning with Horace Silver on the hi-fi and action on the printer. Here's a quick piece I made today. The original (above) was then recoloured. I don't have a favourite version but perhaps you do. Dedicated To is comprised of a found magazine image combined with an altered photo I took on the street last week. But who is it 'dedicated to? You, of course? For what is any art but a dedication to the viewer? And, I must say, a dedication to the maker...who must be dedicated...and give her/himself....something...