The realism convinces me so much in this painting that it is difficult to believe that only ten years have passed since the relative crudity of the first Released. In fact there are only two somewhat prominent things which don’t convince, things which I knew didn’t work at the time which I will come to in a moment.
The title ‘Landscape With Ruins’ came to me some way into the painting, but worked perfectly in this post-modern place as the title was used often by artists from the time of neo-classicism to describe the decay of classical ruins. I had been working increasingly with those things, objects encountered in the rural landscape which I was constantly discovering and which I knew were a violation, and urban encroachment on the rural place. But I also knew that the idea of rural arcadia has always been a myth.
I have created a fictional place and populated it with the sort of things I was encountering. Discarded things, junk, trashed cars, black plastic sacks which could contain…who knows what. There are the lions on plinths, forgotten, moss covered. In the foreground there is a stone plinth or gatepost, the top of which has been stolen, just leaving the rusting iron spike which would have held it all together. There is a discarded mattress which is overgrown with brambles. In the foreground is a rusting, stolen safe, its back cut open.
The fulchrum of the painting is the golden Minotaur which swaggers around, brandishing a high powered hand gun with silencer. Apart from the exciting challenge in rendering objects to look like gold, I had a particular desire to comment on the glamourisation of the criminal; the criminal becoming ‘bling’ in itself. In this character I wanted to show something of the aggressive side of masculinity and also something in the way that the modern criminal is also (sadly) the perfect existentialist.
Again I have developed the lighting in the foreground to create the effect of a flash being fired. The only things which I think I could have improved upon is the concrete still attatched to the safe , which looks a bit woolly, and the bracken (fiddle-head fern), a plant of such primitive simplicity in its fractal structure yet so difficult to get right in painting.
In spit of these things I am especially pleased with this painting. If I fail today, I look at it to remind me of just how good I can be.
Just don’t forget that its TOTALLY invented.
It is a challenge to look at the painting and try to figure out what all the elements are (before reading your text). This has nothing to do with how they are painted, but more to do with the way you have them tucked away, totally as they would be in nature. Only parts are revealed. Also, there is something very “English” about your choice of some of them. The stone gatepost, for example, with iron sticking out is not something we’d often see here in America It gives some insight to know what the objects are, like the safe. I don’t know that I’d have identified it as such without your guidance, but as a safe it is so much more than a rusted metal box.
Another great piece.
I’m really appreciating all of your comments. This sharing of ideas is very useful, especially with others with similar language and with similar but differing culture. Being able to communicate with true artists who have similar sensitivities and ambitions (I enjoyed your interview) is more important to me now than I had previously thought.
I am keeping up with my initial idea, once I had discussed it with Maureen, to post one work, with descripion, a day. Once they are all there then everyone will be able to browse at leisure, but I’m pleased that you are trying to keep up. It’s a busy time, especially for us with families and I don’t really expect much in the way of comments at the moment.