Unfinished Painting Number One

This is an unfinished painting. I have two of them. I bought the 30″ inch square wooden panels with the intention of painting them, but the closest I’ve come to date is to prime and sand them. I like them as simple white wooden squares.

A few years ago I worked with some small squares of coloured paper mounted to foamcore that I produced and then insinuated into compositions in a variety of ways. The problem with that work is that I didn’t like that the panels were attached to the end of a stick. To make them float in space I had to Photoshop the stick out. On top of that those panels were created specifically to photograph in strange ways.

I was thinking about those panels and—like I do almost every waking minute of the day—I was also thinking about my inability to produce work. For several years it’s been a struggle to make anything, and even when I do I don’t have the same confidence or belief in myself or my ideas. These larger painting panels are a perfect example. I got them ready to paint, but to date haven’t managed to complete what I set out to do. This image below was born out of the doubt I’ve described but it’s hopeful and I like the inherent paradox.

There are a few other things happening here.

I have become more interested in producing art about art. I find this piece works in a bunch of ways that might not be completely apparent to the viewer.

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I took this panel and added a hanging wire and hardware to the back of it along with a simple ‘S” hook. I ventured out of the house on foot and walked a few blocks to this location. I attached the hook on the back of the frame to the frost fence in front of this building and shot it. One of the associations for this work is with “plein air” painting. It’s an old term that describes the type of painting where an artist takes their canvas out into wherever they plan to work and does it in on the spot, in the open air directly referencing the subject. I find this idea romantically old-fashioned. I also work with photography so it makes the process sort of pointless. Finally I’ve never tried it, and don’t think I’d be any good at it. This piece references art history because of it.

The building in the background of the painting is the future home of MOCCA The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. The obvious reference here is that the building in itself is an unfinished work. We really don’t know how good it will be, or if it ever makes it to completion—like my painting.

Unfinished Painting Number One is also about my art career and how I see it as being an unfinished work and one that might never happen. More accurately I should say that this career might never work out the way I imagined it might five years ago. To me this work is a bit of humour mixed in with a touch of disappointment. This might be the closest I get to having work associated with MOCCA in any way. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I can see this becoming a series of works with me carting the panel all over the city or possibly beyond to places where art galleries are being renovated or built. Maybe actually painting the panel or starting to paint the panel as I do so. I can also imagine painting the panel in such a way that the image on the surface  fills in the chunk of landscape that it obscures in the photograph above.

Despite the uncertainty associated with this piece, it has a ton of possibility and makes me feel very positive. Well maybe not VERY, but it makes me feel positive.

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Unfinished Painting Number Three

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Unfinished Painting Number Two

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Construct – Vancouver, April 2016

Construct

April 9th-23rd BAU-XI Gallery2nd Floor, 

3045 Granville Street West, Vancouver

Construct is part of the Capture Photography Festival happening in April, 2016.

Construct is a series of interventions on physical photographic prints. Through shredding, cutting, tearing, folding, crumpling and other acts, photographs are reimagined and reconfigured into sculptural forms. These new objects are then re-shot and the journey—from taking to making and back to taking—allows the viewer to re-evaluate the conventional language of photography. Memory, nostalgia, documentation and other established tropes of the medium become secondary to the form and object, opening a dialogue about what an image is and what it means.

My artistic practice to date has focused on large scale photographic prints. Underpinning that work has always been an overriding interest and affection for painting and sculpture by both the Geometric Abstractionists of the 1960s and Contemporary and Conceptual artist of today and the last 50 years. Construct is a conscious effort to move from “taking” pictures to “making” pictures within this frame of reference. The work in this series uses either existing artist proofs or newly photographed pieces specifically shot and printed to work with the new processes of manipulation. These processes deliberately avoid technology and opt instead for mundane and repetitive physical actions. This also adds an archaic, durational aspect to the work that is simultaneously uncomfortable and meditative.

The following were all created in January and February of 2016.

2.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFoldedRed Brick Wall Folded, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 started with a 1 foot square photograph of a red cinder block wall taken outside a local Toronto Coffee Time. I didn’t originally photograph this wall with the idea of folding it, but when looking back through images I had, I thought it would work well for either crumpling or stripping.

A few years ago I purchased a book that outlines basics of paper folding for design and architectural purposes, and remembering that I had it I decided to experiment with the red brick wall photo. This process has been rolling around in my brain for a few years but I had never tried to execute. This image verified that my imagined process could be worked with photographic paper.

3.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFolded2Red Brick Wall Folded Verso, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I felt this second version of Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 was necessary to explain its companion. Here all I’ve done is flip the folded/dinted paper shape from the first image over and shot it at another angle so that the white back of the paper is not visible. The effect makes it looks like a totally different shape.  I plan to expand and experiment more with this technique. These images represent the first time I’ve tried this despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. This is pretty standard with my practice. I think about something, I think about it more, and then usually forget it for a while. If it comes back to me, it’s usually clearer and makes more sense, which makes it more imperative to execute.

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Bowie Sky Cubed, 2016 – Edition of 7 – Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

All three of the Bowie Sky images in this show were created from photographs specifically shot to be printed, then manipulated and then reshot. The Bowie thing just happened.

I typically plan when I’m going to take pictures, and on this particular day I had planned to go to a parking lot in the city to take pictures of the sky for this series. This relied on it being a clear day and that there was also defined cloud cover. Bowie died the night before.  I don’t look at these pieces as a tribute to Bowie, for me to do that would be trite and contrived. It was how it happened though and these have become a constant reminder to me of how I felt the morning that Bowie died and what he had meant and would continue to mean and symbolize to me. Of the three Bowie Sky images in this show, this one was created first.

11.FINAL_36x36_BowieCloudsStrippedBowie Sky Stripped, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

While making the cubed version of this trio I imagined making this one. The original photographs for these are all 18 x 18 inches square. I have a new cutting board and a large supply of Olfa utility knife blades. I also bought a very snazzy 48” ruler that has a steel insert along one edge, a rubber backing to hold the print down and stop it from moving around, and a substantial handle to lift my fingers away from the blade. These strips are all done freehand with that set up, then the strips are piled and finally re-arranged so they don’t appear anything like the original order in the original photograph. It’s surprisingly touchy work to re-arrange such strips of paper and I had to be very careful not to overlap the strips too much. I found the composition worked better when the white of the Foamcore backing showed through in paces to delineate each strip better.

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Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This was the last of the three Bowie Sky images. For this I took the strips used to build Bowie Sky Stripped, 2016 and individually curled each one—like you would curl ribbon when wrapping a present. Each strip becomes a circular loop and those loops are then piled together. Originally I hadn’t known they would form a sphere, it was a lucky happenstance. As I piled the loops they just naturally began to fall into a loosely formed ball.  I simply picked the structure up and pushed it together a bit in my hands to form the almost perfect sphere in the shot.  This is photographed at an angle, rather than directly above and straight on like most of my work. The sphere rests directly on a Foamcore backdrop.

4.FINAL_36x36_ColourCirclesonBlack2Colour Circles on Black 2, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is another print in the series that began developing in 2013 and like Colour Circles on White 22016 originated in the same way. Both the black and white backgrounds are sheets of Foamcore that I put on the floor of the studio. On top of each background a cardboard tube is placed and the colour discs are stacked and placed on the end of that cardboard tube so they are elevated off the Foamcore. These are shot directly from above. This process allows me to separate the foreground and background in Photoshop and make it easier to separate them into different layers. I can then easily underexpose the black and overexpose the white to remove most of the shadows and eliminate the texture of the Foamcore sheets while retaining the correct exposure for the colour circles.

9.FINAL_12x12_ColourCirclesonWhiteColour Circles on White 2, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

In 2013 I created six inch, circular, colour photographs in Photoshop. These were then printed as chromogenic prints and mounted to Dibond. Originally I took these discs and attached them on sticks and held them out in front of my camera and shot them surrounded by water, forest, or whatever. I’d then remove the stick with Photoshop. There was something about the manipulation that felt dishonest, so I abandoned that work. I then took the discs and started piling them up in the studio.  These are photographs of photographs like everything else in this show, but with these I was definitely thinking of Joseph Albers and Ellsworth Kelly’s work.

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Colour Circles Stripped and Formed, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

For this piece I went back into my files and selected an alternate version of an earlier Colour Circles on Black, 2016 print. I printed this derivative 18” square and then sliced up that 18” square photo—that looked vaguely like the 3 foot version in this show—in a manner like Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed. This worked wonderfully. The combination of black and coloured strips curled into loops and formed into a ball make a very graphic photograph. This isn’t surprising to me. Although I’ve had a Fine Art education and I’ve been exposed to Contemporary art in a serious way for the past 20 years, part of my practice is definitely inspired and informed by graphic design work. In particular, novel and record jackets with a healthy dose of architecture and furniture design thrown into the mix.

WORKING_GardinerCircles1Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is a manipulation from a 2012 work—Brush, Gardner Expressway. The original piece was exhibited in Toronto for the show Wandering. That original edition was printed at 36? x 36? size, and with that, 3 smaller 12? squares that I considered artists proofs. I used those smaller 12” versions for these circling effects.

In 2013 when I had started working more in the studio I purchased a set of metal punches from eBay for stamping out rubber gaskets. I figured that if they could stamp out rubber gaskets, they could easily stamp out circles from photographic prints. Oddly enough I had no luck with those punches. Fast-forward to 2016 and I bought a small, twelve-dollar, Olfa knife, the design of which is based on a simple compass structure. These images were created with that simple tool.

9.FINAL_36x36_GardinerCirclesinaSquareBrush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print 36 X 36 in.

This is a derivative of Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016. That original image is made entirely of the circles that were cut out of an original square print. This image uses both the original desecrated print and the resultant circular pieces. This new piece was created because I felt that the print of just the circles was leaving something out, it was being untruthful to the viewer or at least suggesting something that I wanted to clarify. Here in Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 although the original print has been altered, the entire print is used in this version. I’m not really sure why this was important to me but it was. More and more I find myself not really knowing why, or not really knowing why at the time I create something, why I create it. After the fact though I can usually go back to each piece and understand where it came from, but it’s not always completely planned and executed. It’s becoming more spontaneous.

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Sky Crumpled, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I started crumpling in 2013. I tried to figure out how to engineer and build a crumpled piece of paper. Realizing that would be bordering on impossible I forgot about it for a while. While cleaning the studio one day I found a bunch of artist proofs. Feeling reckless and still thinking about crumples—I took the plunge and scrunched one up.  It was hard to do. Photographs hold a tangible power and it felt irreverent or criminal. Prints also cost money and it seemed like a bit of a waste. I soon got over those feelings and loved the results. This image for Sky Crumpled, 2016 was shot and printed intentionally to crumple up.  The resulting crumple was lit in the studio with a constant light source and shot it again, then enlarged and printed. The original photograph is 12” square.

This new body of work is ostensibly photography about photography and although it seems a rather abrupt change in direction for my work it developed rather slowly.

I’ve had a fairly short career making art. Although I’ve made things all my life and I’ve taken pictures for about 40 years, I’ve only been producing work, showing it and selling it for about 8 or 9 years. The majority of the work up to this point has been architecture based. In simple terms I take a lot of photographs of buildings and spaces.

Construct sets out to make things and to make those things I’m using photographs. More specifically I’m reconstructing photographs to be objects themselves. These constructed objects could be sculptures that stand on their own and are displayed as sculpture, but I’ve chosen to make them back into photographs. I like the permanence of that image, and I like the idea that they remain as the only record of a physical thing I’ve made.

To me these photographs are proof of things existing that only I’ve seen.

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Colour Theory

Colour theory is based on a lot of things. Most notably the work of two twentieth century artist/theorists and their books. I’ve had copies of both Joseph Albers – The Interaction of Color  and Johannes Itten -The Art of Color on our shelves for a long a time. Note: I know how to spell colour, but I guess these are both American publications.

I also love painting, in specific the work of the 50′s and 60′s abstract expressionists that might be considered colourfield artists including; Mark Rothko, Gene Davis, Barnett Newman, Jack Bush, Guido Molinari, Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, and Clyfford Still. I’m particular as well to the contemporary painters that could be linked –albeit maybe just aesthetically–to that earlier movement like; Elizabeth McIntosh, Yves GaucherClaude Tousignant, and others.

A large part of Colour Theory is about Photoshop and photographic manipulation. These images are all taken “in camera”. I built small colour panels, and I support these on wooden stick in the air in front of the camera and shoot.

There’s a bit of Photoshop work done after the fact to remove the panel supports but I could have created these images within Photoshop with no camera work at all. In this way the work links back to aspects of my durational performance pieces in that I’m consciously finding a more difficult and labour intensive way to create something that could be easily mistaken for simple graphic manipulation.

It’s also about the desire to paint with the camera. I think this is a logical place for my work to move given the nature of the my traditional photographic practice of the last ten years. In a way this work is a transition from me “taking photographs” to me “making photographs” as Lise from Gallery 44 suggested.

Colour Theory is not going to be the title of this body of work. I’ve toyed with the idea of “Alterations” but that seems a bit too wanky. I’ll continue this post when I have more energy.

I’ll keep working this series, and see what happens. I just got a call from TIW and my circular colour panels are ready. Let’s see what happens with those. I’m also toying with the idea of three dimensional geometric shapes. The first of these will probably be an open ended square cube. I figure I can build it out of foam core. This weekend I’m buying a box of foam core.

I still haven’t managed to pick up the colour circular panels, but I did figure out a way to remove the stick in-camera. No more photoshop removal. I’ve also figured out I can do a lot of cool work on a table top without sticks with multiple panels on black and white foamcore backgrounds. Exciting. The following two images were all done in-camera, there’s no stick removal.

 

 

 

 

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24 Hours

24 Hour Conceptualization Marathon

Could I sit and think of worthwhile and compelling new concepts if I did it as a performance piece in and of itself?

Even if I didn’t add to the library it could be a statement on creative blocks.

I’m picturing me sitting at an interrogation desk in what would look like–or actually be–a police station interview room. The performance could be filmed and seen through 2-way mirrors. maybe there’s a camera suspended directly above the table I write on. With this in mind the aesthetic of looking at a bank of 4 video monitors would be cool. Therefore film it from 4 different angles. directly above looking down at the desk, behind my left shoulder and looking down at approximately a 45 degree angle. straight on from directly across from the front of my body showing under the table as well and maybe a close up on he actual book I’m writing in.

Maybe I’m shackled to the chair. Maybe this is an elaborate set that needs to be constructed in a museum that I could actually sit inside and interact with to “perform”. The audience would have access to what I’m doing thought the two-way mirror in the observation room, a a bank of video cameras in that room that would have a joystick attached to change the views slightly or zoom in closer and an intercom button that that could talk to and here me from.

Food and Drink would be brought on occasion. I would also have to be escorted to the washroom every now and then. Maybe I’m handcuffed as I’m led in and out of the room by a uniformed officer.

Upon playback the viewer would have the ability to zoom in on the document I’m writing. All the time this looks like I’m writing a confession, when in truth I’m creating a book of concepts.

As well as being the statement on concepts and thinking, it’s also a direct statement on the way certain societies think about the criminality of the creative mind and have done throughout history. Finally the title is intended as a play on the popular television series “24″

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