Tag Archives: tension

An Important Thing Happened Last Night or the Left-handed Bricklayer

This 'Me' of Mine at Strange Cargo Photo JBoyer

This ‘Me’ of Mine at Strange cargo Photo: J. Boyer

One of the worst things that can happen during an exhibition opening is for someone drunk to walk through the door and start being disorderly. We had our version of that last night. However, while we were all slightly on edge not knowing what might happen, it turned out to be a very important exchange and I’m glad the left-handed bricklayer walked in.

Our opening – and I use that Americanism on purpose, because these viewing events are not private, the public is invited along with special friends, they are ‘open’ – was very successful with about twenty people there for the Artists in Conversation discussion and about 60 over all. Our guests were interested and engaged with the works and the exhibition as a whole. One lady said, ‘I wish all the artists were here to talk about their work!’ Interestingly, a suggestion for an exhibition which included the artists positioned next to their works, came the next day from a visitor named Jeremy; we had a fascinating discussion on the importance of including the audience in the discourse and presentation of art, but back to the left-handed bricklayer…

When he entered the gallery, he came in with a fluster of apologies for making a racket, interrupting the end of our Artists in Conversation. He then proceeded to interject as he walk noisily around the gallery, at one point actually standing behind Henri who was video-taping and saying ‘Cheese. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.’ Brigitte Orasinski very politely said we were taping an artists’ conversation and we would be done very soon. We were all on edge.

Our left-handed bricklayer stayed for quite awhile looking at the works and talking to people. He showed me some photographs he’d taken with his mobile phone telling me he was an artist too. He used to do artwork but hadn’t done any in a long time because he’d had troubles but he would like to do some work again because he liked art. I could feel all of us wishing he would go.

In the Pub after we closed for the evening, the first thing we talked about was, ‘did you see that guy!’ I started to release my tension at his being there, but then I checked myself. I realised his being there was important, even if we did feel uncomfortable. He needed the companionship from us and the stimulation from the works. He needed some of the pleasure we all need from art. Hayley found herself liking him but wanting to get away from him in case he would say something to contradict his stories of his own life causing her not to like him any more. I really appreciated Hayley’s honest and human response.

He wrote this in our guest book:
I think the things this town is doing is superb. The friendliness and hospitality of the events and stories of all concern is wonderful I have come through a difficult time and hopefully have come through it and find these art exhibitions humble and very proud to be English in these difficult times of poverty and other situations I hope to succeed at some of the art areas as I have always love Art and always wanted to win at most things I have done hopefully one day people will appreciate my talents and I will go down in folklore in Sunny Folkestone. Yours faithfully and sincerly (name with held by me) Left-handed Bricklayer Born 5/11/61 —

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The Temporary Suspension of Tension

In a series of interviews with the artists in This ‘Me’ of Mine, we’ll explore their practice more in depth and find out what inspires them to create the work they do.  We’ll discuss issues of the self, how the artists deal with it within the context of their work and how they see themselves in relation to their work.  Objects play an important part in many of their practices; we’ll also look at this relationship and the issues of fascination, projection and meaning which surround our connection with objects.

The issues surrounding this exhibition and the work of these artists attempt to explore notions of a psychological self within an artistic context; these notions are issues of identity and experience, the very subjects which make up most of modern and contemporary art production in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  Modern psychology makes a distinction between the ‘self as I’, the subjective self and the ‘self as me’ or the objective self; in simple terms, ‘I that knows’ and ‘me who is known’.[1]  This distinction is at the very heart of This ‘Me’ of Mine.

The following are excerpts from the first in this series of interviews.

Fallen Pigeon (c)2010 David Minton

Fallen Pigeon (c)2010 David Minton, oil on cotton duck, 55.9 x 55.9 cm, courtesy the artist

David Minton describes himself as, “…one of many who return to their roots after teaching….. What if…..I studied at Chelsea in the late 1960s?”  David maintains that sense of urgency required of someone attempting to make up for ‘lost’ time.  He works full-time in his practice and since October 2008, has written the blog Dead and Dying Flowers on an Artists Talking.  In October 2010, it was chosen as ‘Choice Blog’ by Tamarin Norwood.

Jane Boyer:  You describe Peripheral Vision as, ‘Two birds, Two lines, Space, Colour’.  What significance do each of these have for you in creating your paintings?

David Minton:  The birds and the lines might just be a romantic notion tied up in nice colours. I find myself retrospectively putting together a kind of narrative around the work, based upon conversations online and in person. The idea of ‘two birds, two lines, colour, space’ was an attempt to avoid commitment to meaning; commitment to meaning makes you vulnerable. But it may be that without meaning there is only space, so in a sense I make my paintings by accident, but knowingly so.  The central space created by painting ‘at the periphery’ has a tension that is constantly pregnant with possibility.  In order to remain so, the tensions of space are never resolved, but continue and it is this continued lack of resolution that forms the overall content of the picture.

The lines, complementary colours situated adjacent to opposite sides of the canvas, are complementary in an antagonistic manner.  There is a kind of standoff. The bird at the top of that picture is perpetually echoed by the ‘shadow’ at the bottom. The two are ‘me and not-me‘, ‘being and not-being’, a resonance. Working on from that, so are the lines and the space. I have a feeling of something that is almost not-there and this may be connected to a need to repeat experiences in order that they might occur in a new way; the pregnant notion.

Birds in Progress (c) 2011 David Minton

Birds in Progress (c)2011 David Minton, oi on cotton duck, 76.2 x 61 cm, courtesy the artist

JB:  The striking thing about your painting is what is and is not there.  In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze says, ‘…real opposition is not a maximum of difference but a minimum of repetition – a repetition reduced to two, echoing and returning on itself; a repetition which has found the means to define itself.’[2]  Do you feel the unresolved element of your work functions as a repetition of your own intentions?  Does the unresolved quality oppose your intention?

DM:  I came to the notion that the arrival of a painting is an awakening. This notion of awakening connects to a thought about the preconscious, in that the business of division – the literal dividing, complementariness, image and shadow, being and not being, stands for or at the conjunction of conscious and preconscious. Incidentally, (or centrally even) I am given to wondering if we all live at this conjunction; this is where our-selves are located in between unconscious motivations and actions in the world. It is at this ‘conjunction’ that consciousness dawns, between unknowing and the real. In so far as what I do is a search, my intention, if I have one, is to step out from the preconscious. But this involves necessary returning; I have to step back each time from a slightly altered understanding. So definition occurs as a dynamic thing striving to maintain balance in instability.  The unresolved is central to what comes next.

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This series will also offer reading suggestions by the artists.  These are books they have read and found informative for their practice.  If you click on a link below, it will take you to The Book Depository where you can find out more about the book and make a purchase.  Your purchase will help raise funds for the exhibition.

David’s Reading List:

Art and the Degradation of Awareness – Jeff  Nuttall

The Transparency of Evil – Jean Baudrillard

The Cultural Turn – Frederic Jameson

Art in Theory: 1900 – 2000 – ed. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood

Jane’s Mentions:

[1] From the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Psychology of Self, found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_self.  This is referenced: James,W. (1891). The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1890)

[2] Deleuze, Giles. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. London, England: Continuum International Publishing, 2004. P. 15.

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