64 DIGITAL SKETCHES ON THE THEME OF INNER TURMOIL
Cartoon characters and related dolls share a kind of half life, as mythic figures in pictures and as actual tokens of affection for the young or young at heart. Their significance is hardly profound but I’ve always liked their quirky formality and links to Pop Art, as have many other artists. That half life, between presentation and representation, is something my work has dealt with for some time. Here I’ve placed them in chaotic hoarders’ rooms to contrast the sentimental and squalid, the innocent and incapacitated. A little iconographic frisson is not the whole story, of course. For the irrealist, the conflict extends to styles of pictures. Each is entwined in hyperbole and understatement, variously suggests comic and tragic abandon.
Although 64 is a daunting number of works, I’ve again used sub-pages for more than three variations on a composition. These are offered via a link following the title and restrict numbers on this page to just 31.
More notes at the bottom of the page.
LOVED-05A – VARIATIONS
I’d wanted to do something with cartoon or comic strip characters – especially animals – since Endangered Species (2015) where they kept cropping up as I devised fictional creatures. Cartoon sources go right back to my childhood, when I drew cartoons and later reflect my fascination with Pop Art. They persist up until Domestic Routines (1990-2). After that I tried to steer clear of them because so many other artists were covering the territory. I needed to find more distinction elsewhere. Now I’m more confident and don’t mind if one series is overshadowed by the achievements of others. I know more clearly what I want from the material.
As for hoarding, I’d been collecting images largely because it presents such unusual and alarming perspectives on interiors. In some ways they are quite abstract, not unlike an installation. I didn’t really know what I would do with them, but they must have struck a chord somewhere. It’s a bit like hoarding itself, now that I think about it. Gulp. I used some of them in Fifty Fictive Record Covers, still thinking of them as just interiors and related to my earlier series, Interiors (2001-4). But then the idea of them standing for an internal or inner working of the psyche occurred to me and with that the contrast with very tidy, sentimentalised characters arose. I know the results seem piteous or forlorn and suggest abuse or a morbid realm, but there is something amusing about their persistence as well, their irrepressible buoyancy.
I don’t accept the view of such figures as kitsch or ‘abject’. They are intended for children and their sentimentality is suitably simplified; their popularity a consequence. I’m not one to scorn vulgarity in order to confirm sophistication. True, the feelings expressed may be misdirected to more complex issues, possibly as kitsch or pathos. But this is usually done for comic effect, as in emoticons, avatars and so on. To see them as a failure in taste or tone there is really to declare a heart of stone.
This series is closest to Robo I suppose. Both deal in the person as token or metaphor and both focus for the most part on the full length figure against a background. The main difference is that Loved Ones focuses on interiors (with some exceptions) and is concerned with helpless desolation while Robo deals with a sort of mechanical assertiveness in an outdoors world. Both are a fairly black comic view of human agency.