Friday, 16 March 2018

Civilia: The End of The Sub Urban Man by Ivor De Wolfe (Architectural Press, 1971)

Civilia, a very British answer to Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer's sleek, beautiful, sun-drenched modernist vision, Brasilia. Except that Civilia was no more than an imaginary urban utopia dreamt up by 'Ivor de Wolfe' (a pseudonym for H. de C. Hastings, architectural critic, publisher and editor).

It's tattered spine caught my eye in Housman's bargain basement. Had it merely been a series of texts I wouldn't have paid a whole pound for it, but Kenneth Browne's visualisation of Civilia proved irresistible....

...they strike me as something like scenes from an unmade sci-film set in the UK's near future. The photomontages comprise of buildings from Britain's recent Brutalist past which, by the 70s, was probably in decline as an architectural force, just as tower blocks also fell out of favour. Yet the argument here is for high-density living as an antidote to the suburban sprawl. Such towns as Civilia would, in theory, put an end to commuter misery because it's occupants want to live there rather than flee to leafy abodes which have names yet no character, locations but are non-places...

...I suspect, though, that 40 years later there would be 'no-go' areas in Civilia, where gang stabbings occur regularly in the dark, graffiti-plastered and stained concrete alleyways. There would be blocks populated only by the poor and immigrants, neglected people and places in bad need of repair, which are eventually sold off, renovated and inhabited by the middle-classes...

...ironically, as Civilia was being dreamt up, so too was Milton Keynes, the UK's newest new town, a 34-square-mile sprawl of estates, the opposite of Hastings' dream. Ever since MK has gradually declined into anything but a model of modern living. It's reputation is one of alienation amid the vast grid system and it's endless roundabouts. Some of it's estates garnered reputations for housing very bad sorts rather than happy new town families...

...still, like Hastings, MK's planners were well-intentioned. Whether, unlike Milton Keynes, Civilia would ever develop a 'soul' and character along with true communities, we shall never know...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Artist's questionnaire

Do you enjoy making art?

It can be stressful a) sometimes b) most of the time c) never.

Do you consider yourself to be a) a Fine Artist b) a Course Artist c) neither
Is art-making therapeutic?

If someone asks what you do do you admit to being an artist or just tell them what your paying job is?
Have you ever posted a piece of art on social media and felt disappointed at the response?

Are you engaged in social media activity or do you remain aloof in your studio because you're better than that?

Have social media platforms replaced the gallery or are they merely a poor substitute and a sign that you concede defeat when it comes to having your work approved by professionals so settle for a few 'likes' and Followers?

Do you have a web site? If so, do you regularly update the content or did you only create one because you thought it was what you were supposed to do and it now sits like a dead thing because you can't be bothered to update the content and although it looks very professional it is only a slick corpse?

Is making art actually a complete waste of your time because you will never earn regular money from it and you could be doing something useful like weeding the garden or painting over that grubby wall in the kitchen instead of masquerading as an artist when in fact very few people appreciate what you do you pathetic person?

Is a questionnaire about art a complete waste of time because questioning art activity is pointless, as is theory and intellectual masturbation regarding content, style, technique etc?

When is the last time you looked at something by Sigmar Polke?

Finally, when seeing art that is completely different from yours are you capable of appreciating it or do you dismiss it out of hand because it does not tally with your aesthetic vision which to you is more than just a style but a meaningful expression in opposition to types of art which disgust you in their trite content, overly-elaborate style and symbolic significance of what is wrong with the way many people think art should be?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

To quote John Cage: I have nothing to say and I'm going to say it...

15.34pm - staring at the screen whilst listening to...

...follow-on from the previous post. Today in the office someone explained that you no longer take a book to a desk in a library, you put it in a kind of hole and it's scanned. I can barely remember libraries and every time someone mentions them I'm reminded that they exist. If I think of libraries at all it's in relation to the Tony Hancock episode, The Missing Page, where he requests a large historical tome, which impresses the librarian until he uses it to stand on to reach Lady Don't Fall Backwards. Another joke in that episode revolves around the reappearance of Lolita, which cause a rush at the desk. In retrospect, a strange joke, considering what Lolita was about.

I had nothing to say but said something...

Can I actually say something about nothing? No doubt there's a book on the subject. There are books on everything. If there isn't, there should be.

I write to stave off...what? Boredom? Depression? Watching a mediocre film because I can for free on Amazon? Yes, yes, yes. yesterday I started watching Michael Mann's Heat. Just for something to do. I've already seen it but thought it worth a revisit to see if it's improved. It hadn't. The flashy direction, the 'acting' acting by Al Pacino, bored me after a while. 

I really have nothing more to say...

Hackney Library / Stockhausen Prozession

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Paper collage: Birthright

RTomens, 2018

On Saturday I felt the urge to return not only to my roots but the roots of collage, allowing for the other form, paint and paper, of course. Or one could call it 'Photomontage,' but despite having read the difference once I've now forgotten. It was probably only an opinion anyway, rather than a fact. 

Mark E Smith asked Who Makes The Nazis? 'Balding smug faggots / Intellectual half-wits' he claimed. I have no better answer. Equally, I cannot answer anyone who may query the content of this collage and the inclusion of Nazi flags. People will think what they think. It is impossible to explain where the idea for the images came from; only to say that they sprang forth from what was to hand, without the long search that's sometimes necessary for collage components. Why I put them together is a mystery. Art cannot always be explained, even by the artist. TTFN

Monday, 12 March 2018

Art print: After The Comfort

RTomens, 2018

Art print combination of found photograph, photograph, print and collage.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Art)! Photography: It Was Late

RTomens, 2018

Photography may or may not have been generally accepted as 'art' but we're not bothered about that, are we? Any old book on 'photography as art' demonstrates many shining examples. The good ones, I mean. Unlike the last triptych I have opted for a plain white background, framed. Better, I think. I am available for weddings too.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Art Print: Activity /Figurative art

RTomens, 2018

Figurative art is understandably popular; it's as if by being able to see another human in a piece of art people feel comforted - "Oh look! One of us!". Which is not to say that aliens in art aren't popular too. The 'question' of abstract art's validity is too old to merit another discussion, but you may have noticed how some people still don't 'get' it. 

Figures appear regularly in my work, although such is my taste and methodology that I never paint them. The National Portrait Gallery is not a place I visit very often although I have nothing against portraits per se. Actually, I haven't been there for about...25 years. 

As you may have noticed a lot of my material is 'found', ie, already made by someone. So it is with any figures I use. My figures sometimes 'speak' via the text they carry. In other instances, the text only defines the shape. The flying woman has appeared a few times in pieces. Sometimes she has  no-one to catch her. You'll notice a few elements combined to create the overall image: a photograph (my own), collage (found image and paper cut-out) and print.

Do call in again, but don't expect a portrait anytime soon.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Picture Show

RTomens, 2018

The title is derived from the original source material, which has been altered considerably. Presented here for this page on a grey background, framed and on lighter grey for the purpose of showing the trio together as intended. On a wall they would simply be hung as separate images.