Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sean Scully's monumental moments

Sean Scully has studios in Germany, New York, London and Barcelona, at least. After an intense period of painting he feels nervous, strung out and emptied. He goes walking in the mountains to replenish. (1)

“Art is a little like the donkey and the carrot and the artist never reaches the carrot .. haha .. you never get to nirvana ... it’s not possible because your concept, your ambition, is always greater than what you’re able to achieve ...
  [...] It should be something that is happening all at once ... that’s inhabiting you and that you are doing ... and you have one way or another managed to get yourself into that space ... and there’s an angel on your shoulder. That’s how you should make art. If you’re plotting art ... and trying to make something to get something, you’re not in a state of creative innocence – you’re not making art, it’s something else.” (2).

These are snippets from two terrific videos I watched over the last few days. The first is a conversation in 2004 in front of a studio audience at the Tate, while the second was made in 2011 and includes some footage of Scully at work as well as glimpses of the spectacular landscape around his studio in Germany. 

He is evidently generous with his time as there are numerous published interviews to be found around the internet as well. And he rarely repeats himself, which means there’s always something new to discover. I get the feeling he doesn't think much of artists who delegate the actual painting:  
“I’m not a pimp artist. I make all my work myself.” (1) 
He mentions that when many oil paintings are drying together, the air can become toxic and he needs to leave for a while.

More quotes:
“We like to think we are what we are. But we are tremendously defined by context. We’re in a relationship with the world.” (1)
 “You learn a lot when someone writes on your work” (referring to critical reviews). 
 “A painting is a compression where everything is made, thought, felt at the same time – a monumental moment.” (1)

And to wind up, an authentic statement of his aim: “The enterprise [painting] has a sense of the absurd about it. I don’t think about risk. I’m trying to make something that moves me even if it’s like something else already made.” (c. 45 minutes in the Tate video).

The links:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some recent work

For the past year or so I've been working on several projects at once. I think of the projects as lines of enquiry, or planks, and they're all related though seemingly very different visually. Basically I'm exploring the mysterious world of plants through different media -- drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage. Here is some of the work:

Mary Adam, Apple with leaves, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8 x 8"
Mary Adam, Blue flowers, acrylic on stretched canvas, 8 x 8"

Mary Adam, Mind and body, collage

Mary Adam, Heart of the matter, coloured pencil 

Mary Adam, Plant Life 1, mixed printmaking techniques
The second-to-last one is based on a drawing of an Acalypha species from my series of wild flower drawings done in the 80s. A previous post on the series might help to explain some of the things going on here ...

Friday, June 7, 2013

To post or not to post?

One of the things that limits how often I post on this blog is whether posting my new work constitutes "showing" the work. "Showing" usually means showing in an exhibition, that's how people generally interpret it. Does showing on a blog count the same as showing in a bricks and mortar gallery? And does it matter, you may ask? It turns out it does matter, because juried group shows may require the work that is submitted to be "not previously shown." So if showing on a blog counts as "previously shown", that work would be ruled out of certain juried shows, depending on the rules of the particular organisation. Recently when I asked the organisers of an upcoming exhibition about it, the answer was a definite yes: posting in a blog or website counts as "previously shown".

After thinking about it for a while, I've decided to post new work as I go along, especially the smaller pieces. Otherwise it has to be kept under wraps for too long a time. If an exhibition prohibits works shown on blogs or websites, I will refrain from submitting that work. As it is, my studio is full of new work done over the past 18 months that is waiting to be seen, somewhere.

Taking a position on this became more pressing for me recently because of listing work on eBay. There are other sites too which I've been looking at, each with its own strengths -- DailyPaintworks is one (I'm not on there yet, will be soon), and I've had a page on Saatchi Online for a while and need to build it up. All of them need to be fed regularly. Therefore I think it's best for me not to be worrying about possible rules and restrictions (which could change at any time), and to feel free to post work here and on other sites. It signifies a slight change in direction which I hope will be interesting for readers of the blog.

Mary Adam, Anthuriums, oil on canvas, 20 x 16" (?)

This one was a case in point, it was submitted to the Art Society of Trinidad & Tobago for the May "Belle Eau" exhibition, and will be touring to Point Lisas in (I think) July. I'm not certain if it's 16 x 20" or 18 x 24" and am unable to measure it right now.