17 BLACK AND WHITE ABSTRACT PAINTINGS
These are mostly based on the Encryption digital sketches from earlier this year. The choice from within that series was largely determined by what I thought would work best at an easel scale (107 X 87cm or less). A lot of the sketches are designed for a much grander scale. Agonising compromises become another kind of filter. I also squeezed in a couple of examples from the Decline series, just taking advantage of the opportunity – and as with the Cityicity 2 series, ultimately strained the reduced scale somewhat. I’m making the best of a grim situation.
The paintings were never going to slavishly duplicate the sketches, although that may have been cool and ironic at some point. That flatness – particularly to all the black areas – instantly seemed wrong or inadequate. That’s not the mood I was aiming for. I’ve included some comparisons to show the kind of differences the paintings make. Some are more subtle than others. But essentially I saw it as an opportunity to extend the filtering or encryption to more gestured or painterly handling. Although the sketches pushed my methods further into abstraction and a darker territory in every sense, I found that the paintings for some reason clawed back some of the figurative elements. ENCRY-32P is a good example.
But overall the series is about a spectrum between the abstract and figurative, about encrypting or abstracting pictorial meaning. So as long as there were still more abstract examples to the series, I’m happy to play my hunches and to let the painting take the sketches one step further or one step back. More notes at the bottom of the page.
ENCRY-01P – 107 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
Here is a comparison between the digital sketch (on right) and the painting.
ENCRY-02P – 84 X 107cm acrylic/canvas
Here is a comparison with the digital sketch (on right).
ENCRY-09P – 107 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-10P – 107 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
Here is a comparison with the digital file.
ENCRY-11P – 84 X 107cm acrylic/canvas
Here is a comparison with the digital sketch (on right). The painting is darker partly because the print I used for matching was too dark. A printing problem I’ve yet to fully remedy.
ENCRY-16P – 107 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-22P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-25P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-26P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-27P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-30P – 102 X 76cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-32P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
Here is a comparison with the digital sketch (on right)
ENCRY-37P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-39P – 84 X 71cm acrylic/canvas
ENCRY-42P – 71 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
Failing Man P – 107 X 84cm acrylic/canvas
Going 2 – 107 X 84cm acrylic on canvas
These are the first paintings where I felt my experience as a critic over the past seven years began to influence my painting. This arose as I pondered ‘painterly’ options, and definitely helped. Or maybe I’ve just growing more confident and relaxed and can extend my project in ways I previously would have rejected. The paintings are my most impasto or heavily worked for instance, and while once this would have seemed sort of corny or melodramatic, as a critic I think my view of handling and facture has broadened considerably (although I’ve always been a fan of painters like Soutine and de Kooning). It’s only now my practice is catching up with my theory, perhaps. That, and working on a modest scale in just black and white, makes lavish handling not quite so daunting, financially.
One final, small point: the odd number of 17 paintings arose because although I planned an elegant selection of 8 works on 102 X 84 and 8 at 84 X 71 – I came across a stretched and primed canvas (102 X 76cm – now ENCRY-30P) in an op shop. They let me have it, as they know me, for only $2!