<![CDATA[ANDREW COLE - ART - Blog]]>Sat, 21 Mar 2020 18:36:02 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Ongoing Work]]>Sun, 04 Aug 2019 11:10:49 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/ongoing-work​Outside of the long-running ‘Fictional Artefacts’ series, there are two other series I am currently working on: “Mapping History” and “The Order of Things”.
 
The following two paintings are from my ‘Mapping History’ series, which is a currently ongoing body of work conceptually linked to both my ‘In Bad Dreams’ and ‘Roots’ series.
All three series explore elements of how we, as humans, construct and understand ourselves, and our experience of life. ‘In Bad Dreams’ deals in dark, traumatised experiences, in catharsis and a purging of negative emotions and experiences. ‘Roots’ is an autobiographical exploration, explicitly linking my life journey to place and mythological symbolism. In both cases I am using my own life history and experiences, abstracting them and using them as a lens to explore more ‘universal’ ideas.
This series, ‘Mapping History’, looks at how we construct our conception of place and landscape, which is inevitably abstracted and emotive.  Our mental maps are abstracted presentations of physical space, rearranged and constructed by associations, by events and people. We all construct mental images, maps, of places based on specific sites of emotional resonance – a kind of geography of good and bad associations, with neutral spaces very often being ‘erased’ from memory. One example of this type of imaging would be how we conceptualise space in terms of Metro maps, station layouts divorced from ‘above ground’ geography. Another would be road maps, an arrangement and understanding of space invisible from the ground level. The Aboriginal ‘dot paintings’, as a further example, portray an abstracted vision of landscape fused with narrative, with various dots and patterns being used to illustrate sacred sites, dreamtime stories and so on. The abstraction was means of obscuring secret knowledge from the uninitiated.
 
I’ve borrowed/appropriated this idea for the painting on display, and the rest of the series, mapping various places I have stayed, creating an abstracted map of the area. This specific piece is of the town in the UK I am from, Burton-On-Trent, based on the road map and areas of personal significance. The paintings depict, to the initiated, areas of special resonance, and hints at passages of time and movement in the symbols scattered over the surface.
​This second piece is ‘Strasbourg’ and uses the same visual references and ideas as the first piece, although this time based on Strasbourg, the city in France I lived in for a year as a child.
There are 4 more pieces planned for this series, all based on maps of places I have stayed in for significant periods of time – Johannesburg, Bangkok, Sur and Shanghai.
​The order of things came about from a conflation of different inspirations – The Matrix, The Invisibles, Nine Inch Nails (especially the Year Zero album), Godflesh, Isis (the Panopticon album in particular), Jeremy Bentham, and the work of Michel Foucault.
The basic premise of the series is the exploration of underlying control systems and structures of power and bringing those to the surface. For the purposes of the series control systems were equated with Euclidean geometry, a rigid system designed to order the world.
The idea for this series is for it to be fairly wide-ranging in terms of types of images/expressions of ideas. The bulk will be comprised of minimal, geometric paintings – a textured, loose field, with groupings of geometric shapes. Combined with these will be various insertions (objects like wire, keys, nails, wood, cloth, collaged paper elements etc.) and omissions – literally parts cut out of the canvas. As an example, the first painting in the series, ‘Beneath the Surface of Things’:
​A second strand of images will be digital, using my usual technique of layering images and will, as things stand in the planning process, utilize more figurative imagery along with things like binary code, linguistics and technology. The image below, ‘Right Where It Belongs’ is the first in this projected series of images.
​In addition to this, I am hoping to explore some possibilities in short video ‘blips’, creating gifs and sound, all tied in with the original idea of hidden systems. Watch this space…
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<![CDATA[Digital Work]]>Thu, 01 Aug 2019 00:44:33 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/digital-workAlthough my work is primarily done in the medium of abstract painting, I also create digital work through the manipulation and layering of images. This post will focus on two series: ‘New Mythologies’ and ‘Eschatology’.

The work in the 'New Mythologies' use this process to create works which are meant to evoke mythology in ways that familiar yet different. The myths and philosophies referenced in these pieces are primarily European, but also include a smattering of Near and Far East. What I’m after, for the final product, is something a bit eerie and surreal, taking recognizable objects and distorting or manipulating them until they become something other, subverting the idea of that the camera never lies and making it something questionable and unreal. 
​The following paintings are from my series entitled ‘Eschatology’, a series of digital paintings which are based on 10 scientific/mathematical equations related to the workings of our universe, as well as its beginning and ending. Looking back, there seems to be a fair few pieces of work somehow linked to science in some way – probably the influence of my dad. Each equation used in the series is expressed in 2 ways – the first is as a ‘dot’ painting, related to how the aborigines of Australia map out geographical space (landscape) with their dot paintings, as well as elements of the more metaphysical ‘Dreaming’ (an idea and approach I have used in my ‘Mapping History’ series too). Half the images in this series map out an intellectual space of ideas in this way, non-physical and loosely defined.
​The second approach takes the same the basic shape and pattern of the ‘dot’ painting and renders it as something akin to Euclidean geometry (roughly equated to a mosaic style) floating in a formless non-Euclidean space (or void).
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<![CDATA[In Bad Dreams]]>Tue, 30 Jul 2019 12:31:49 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/in-bad-dreams​ ‘In Bad Dreams’ deals in dark, traumatised experiences, in catharsis and a purging of negative emotions and experiences. It uses the mystical/alchemical idea of connectivity – ‘as above, so below’. In the case of these paintings, the idea is that the sickness or suffering of the individual reflects something outside of themselves – the sickness of the world and society they exist in.
Each painting uses a similar layout - there is a ‘framed’ element within a loosely defined field. The field and colours in this series are muted, greys with flashes of colours. Instead of vivid images and colours, the idea is to visually mimic echoes, something emerging from memory into the present.
The series deals with ‘primal’ negative experiences such as loss, depression, self-harm, addiction, isolation and violence. Each of these is linked with a specific symbol and/or colour – from rust, stone and wood to blues, screaming faces and spattered – within an overall ‘industrial’ aesthetic, and with titles drawn from groups like Nine Inch Nails and God Machine.
‘One Last Laugh’ relates to experiences of addiction, with the ink transfer element, the screaming face, being from an old painting of mine dealing with the same subject, but from a more raw and immediate perspective.
 ‘In Bad Dreams’ deals in dark, traumatised experiences, in catharsis and a purging of negative emotions and experiences. It uses the mystical/alchemical idea of connectivity – ‘as above, so below’. In the case of these paintings, the idea is that the sickness or suffering of the individual reflects something outside of themselves – the sickness of the world and society they exist in.
Each painting uses a similar layout - there is a ‘framed’ element within a loosely defined field. The field and colours in this series are muted, greys with flashes of colours. Instead of vivid images and colours, the idea is to visually mimic echoes, something emerging from memory into the present.
The series deals with ‘primal’ negative experiences such as loss, depression, self-harm, addiction, isolation and violence. Each of these is linked with a specific symbol and/or colour – from rust, stone and wood to blues, screaming faces and spattered – within an overall ‘industrial’ aesthetic, and with titles drawn from groups like Nine Inch Nails and God Machine.
‘One Last Laugh’ relates to experiences of addiction, with the ink transfer element, the screaming face, being from an old painting of mine dealing with the same subject, but from a more raw and immediate perspective.
Title: One Last Laugh (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, ink transfer on canvas (100x80cm)

‘Still’ deals with the idea of loss, the cloth hinting at bandages over a wound, while the circular splash of white can be understood as the emotions contained/buried beneath spilling out. My own experience with loss and the resulting grief, is that the emotions, however buried or distant we may think they are, erupt into the present very quickly and vividly.
Title: Still (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, cloth on canvas (100x80cm)

‘A Warm Place’ deals with the idea of self-harm or self-destruction. I wanted to use ideas of rust to equate with old bloodstains and the nails to mimic weapons or the tools used for hurting ourselves
Title: A Warm Place (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, nails on canvas (100x80cm)

‘Less Than’ relates to ideas of isolation and dislocation – the feeling of being in the wrong place. The central form is meant to evoke ideas of stone, with the wood relating to fences (both things that would shut out or enclose). These are images I personally associate with the feeling of being an outsider, particularly in different cultural contexts.
Title: Less Than (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, sand, modelling paste, wood on canvas (100x80cm)

‘Something Real, deals with violence, specifically the effects of exposure to violence. The experience of violence can briefly cause us to feel more alive, to experience things more intensely (as represented by the orange and yellow – which also links to fire), but at the same time can desensitize us, make us something less than human. This aspect is represented by an ink transfer from an old painting of mine, made when I was living in an area where violence was prevalent.
Title: Something Real (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, ink transfer on canvas (100x80cm)

‘Painless’ deals with the reality of depression, the pain and self-hate being hidden behind a watery numbness (represented in the painting through the cloth over the razor blades.
Title: Painless (2018)
Medium: Acrylic, razor blades, cloth on canvas (100x80cm)
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<![CDATA[Exhibition Update]]>Mon, 29 Jul 2019 14:03:36 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/exhibition-updateIt seems that it’s that time of the year again – I’ve not done very much creating recently (no time or storage space, and I’ve not sold enough to clear some room in the studio) but have been looking back at what I’ve done over the past year in terms of work and shows.

One of the first things I did after last summer was provide a whole lot of artwork for a special performance by Shanghai-based band Hogchoker (Check out the Bandcamp page here - https://hogchokershanghai.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR1ptQc089CyAZ_bRLMkrvyKGmUrUKR3OSKRGTnZQSjMz-cNYDTzK17uDIc) at the legendary YYT club in Shanghai. This was the swansong for this incarnation of the band, although they do live on in another form.
​I was also in a couple of shows at the Yinuo Gallery in Shanghai. The first, ‘On the Scene’, started in August 2018 and ran until October.
​I had a couple of pieces from my Middle Kingdom on show – ‘After the Fall’ and ‘Portraits of the Doomed’.
​The second show at the same gallery was called ‘Free Voice’ and took place in December 2018. Some of my ‘In Bad Dreams’ pieces were featured in this.
​I was also involved in another online art exhibition, called Art Laozi, from August to September 2018 (check out the link here - https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/3xlfD0BUfRrFkHlgpL5mxg). Two of my pieces were featured as part of this: ‘A Campaign of Sparrows’ from the Middle Kingdom series and ‘In A Silent Place’ from my ‘In Mourning’ series.
​I’ve also been involved in a few shows with an art group in China called FRONT. The first was an online show called ‘Unbounded’ in October 2018 (link here - https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/IjHVXQbqn6efOo3fkUoZUQ) which included some of my digital artwork, specifically the ‘Eschatology’ series. 
The second, called ‘Visual Field’, took place at an art museum in Tianjin (a city in north China) in December 2018. This was a very big show and came with a catalogue! Included in this show was one of my ‘Roots’ paintings – ‘The Memory of Fire’
A second show organized by FRONT took place in Jiaxing, China in May 2019. This was a bit smaller scale than the Tianjin show (60 something artists as opposed to around 200) and was called ‘Sort de la Nature, dans la nature’. Another of my Middle Kingdom pieces was featured here – ‘Things Fall Apart’.
In March 2019 one of my ‘Roots’ paintings, ‘The Body Within The Body’ was included in an exhibition called ‘Outside Experience’ which took place in the Gui Zhi Gallery in Wanzhou, China.
 Not entirely sure what is going on in that last picture – some sort of performance art I would guess.
I also took part in another online show in March, this one organized by EASACI in China (link here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/YEUvA3oskFDcABmucdysPA), for work considered experimental in some way. Some of my abstract works on paper were included in this. The same platform also did an interview with me, which can be seen here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/hCVd7TEIanTURW6XQPpRMw)
May was quite a busy month, starting with the launch exhibition of the Muse&um space in Shanghai, organised by the same team that arranged the art hotel show in December 2017. I was asked to participate and showed the first of my ‘Mapping History’ pieces.
​Yes, that is me drunkenly talking about the painting. The bright side was the loss of shyness led to me meeting a Chinese/Brazilian artist called Wendy who caused me to be included in a show later that month. She also, through introducing me to her uncle, caused me to be included in the Citizen Art Fair at a hotel in Shanghai (for context, check this link: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/O9VaIj-HYEeTNy-6ibQsOw)
Meeting somebody also led to my work being displayed in a wine shop in Shanghai. This somebody features again in relation to something even more important to me, so will remain a mystery for a couple of paragraphs. 
​Some of my digital work was also included in an online exhibition called ‘Dreamtime’ organised by the Lys D’Or gallery in Italy (link here: https://lysdorart.wixsite.com/lysdorgroupshows/copia-di-global-warming-water-wars-1?utm_campaign=fa1eeb17-4faf-4776-b510-6953b7b2438f&utm_source=so).
​The biggest show of 2019 for me, so far, was the ‘Frames of Mind’ group show which took place in the DeHeart gallery in the M50 art district of Shanghai in late May. 
The show included quite a few pieces of mine, from the ‘In Bad Dreams’, ‘Middle Kingdom’ and ‘Heads’ series. And also led to a very nice review by the wonderful Heather (link here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/aE94QTGF0D_rhyy77m9nUA). And a video of me speaking about my work and process:
​In early 2019, I met the mystery person mentioned a couple paragraphs back, who has since become a friend and also opened a few doors for me. This mystery person is Opoku Mensah, an artist from Ghana currently based in Europe. Besides from linking me with the wine shop, he also introduced me to Edward of Circle Triangle Square, an art platform based in the UK, who have signed me on as one of their stable of artists, agreeing to represent me and specific series of my work (link here: https://www.circletrianglesquare.co.uk/andrew-cole). They will be helping find potential buyers and exhibition opportunities for the work they represent. The future looks bright, exciting times ahead – now I just need to find the time to make the bloody work!
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<![CDATA[Politics]]>Tue, 31 Jul 2018 01:37:47 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/politics​I'm old and cynical enough to have accepted (not quite the right word) that politicians in general have a somewhat... opportunistic relationship with the truth and facts (although still idealistic enough to get upset about it). Despite this though, some of what I see these days in global politics is horrifying - watching facts and any idea of truth become twisted to order, subjugated to a desire to seize or hold power and politicians willing to do anything to get their political end away. This is where my admittedly bruised sense of idealism kicks off (and has done several times over the years) and the rage comes out in paintings. Some of these were responses to specific events or individuals, others a more general bit of artistic moaning about the state of the world today.
These first three pieces were part of a very early series called ‘Myth Cycle’, which ws inspired by a poem I had written and dealt with the fetishizing and romanticising of violence. This was a specific reaction to the political and social climate of South Africa, where I was living at the time, but could easily be applied the current climate in America.
The poem is quite long, but here it is:
myth cycle.
1: opening credits.
these streets swirl with memories night and day,
embedded in the yellow eyes of a million cars;
coded in the wailing and hooting of the taxis
as they rumble through the beautiful ugliness of the cities. 
roadside walls pockmarked with bullet-holes
and the tar uneven with potholes and sinking. 
the city has no time for sleep,
it heaves its scarred old face
between the buildings and into the sky
and lies silent in the light.
silent to the ones within it,
gleaming dully on rainy nights as
the crack of bullets and the howl of alarms
echo in the ears of no one: 
faces turned up to try and find the sun.
2:  violence.
 
watching
death stalking the well-lit streets of suburbia
armed with pangas AK47s AIDS and knives,
with the pick the sickle and the shovel: 
tools ready to execute the unknown
and bury it in obscurity.
watching
rape scenes played out against damp alleyways,
screams disappearing into unheard nothingness
while blind eyes stare dead from fire escapes
and unforgiving windows and streets and
no traces are left in the morning.
watching
beautiful thugs;
beautiful freaks –
tsotsis with hats pulled down over their eyes,
tribalism armed and tooled up with knives: 
refugees from township poverty, urban desolation
and moneyed boredom. 
in love with the brutality and violence,
the ghost face of killers –
murderous memories and old guilt moving
beyond the vanishing point
– dead idols crippled by the bends,
surfacing in an atmosphere of sadness
where violence fills the darkness.
3:  end credits.
to be in south africa is to be
constantly aware of the murdered blood
that was mixed with water to make the sky,
staining the rivers red
wherever they flow. 
it is to be able to hear,
above the bass heavy beat of kwaito
and the growl of mining machinery,
the hate that still reverberates
across the naked expanse of desolate veld. 
south africa lives in the past
and only glimpses the present,
imprisoned in the hard consonants and
harsh clicks
of ancient languages. 
screams tear through the dark at night
echoed by guard dogs to the ghetto moon,
hiding terrified in the thick folds of shadow
and silence in the heart of suburbia. 
there is no present in south africa
and no future,
just a fearful attraction to a past
brittle with violence and guilt,
murderous prison blocks and courthouses
haunted by angry ghosts;
bullet-ridden tin shacks and houses
traumatised in cowering suburbs
and a crippled people
bled to a useless sadness and
still singing the chorus of a mourning song.
​The next three are a triptych; part of a series called ‘Richey Edwards’, and inspired by the lyrics of the Manic Street Preachers. This specific piece was inspired by the track ‘Of Walking Abortion’ (from their ‘Holy Bible’ album) and really speaks of the political (and general) rage I was feeling. And still feel, if I’m honest. Lyrics to follow:
Life is lead weights, pendulum died / Pure or lost, spectator or crucified
Recognised truth acedia's blackest hole / Junkies winos whores the nation's moral suicide
Loser - liar - fake – phoney / No-one cares, everyone is guilty
Fucked up - don't know why - you poor little boy
We are all of walking abortions / Shalom shalom we all love our children
We all are of walking abortions / Shalom shalom there are no horizons
Mussolini hangs from a butcher's hook / Hitler reprised in the worm of your soul
Horthy's corpse screened to a million / Tisu revived, the horror of a bullfight
Fragments of uniforms, open black ruins / A moral conscience - you've no wounds to show
So wash your car in your 'X' baseball shoes
We all are of walking abortions / Shalom shalom we all love our children
We are all of walking abortions / Shalom shalom there are no horizons
Little people in little houses / Like maggots small blind and worthless
The massacred innocent blood stains us all
Who's responsible - you fucking are
​There’s also this piece from the same series, ‘Ifwhiteamerica…’, which seems, sadly, even more appropriate these days.
​The next two pieces were painted while I was living in Oman. The first, ‘A Cenotaph Souvenir’, also has a Manics link, with the title coming from their song ‘La Tristesse Durera’. Part of the impetus was my thinking about how many victims and survivors (war veterans for example), have their individuality stolen away from them, subsumed into an easily digestible symbol while the individual and what they have suffered is ignored and discarded, The other bits of text here come from the Dylan Thomas poem ‘A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London’ (full poem here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/refusal-mourn-death-fire-child-london) and the epigraph at the start of ‘The Waste Land’.
​"I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl of Cumae hanging in a jar, and when the boys said, Sibyl, what do you want? she replied I want to die."
​This next one, ‘When There is Freedom’ was inspired by a few things. I had just recently come back from a trip to Italy and still had some of the political graffiti in my head. I was also thinking about revolutions, and the gap between initial idealism and the actual outcome. The figure is modelled after Che Guevara and the quote comes from Lenin. There’s also another Manics link in the ‘revol’ in the first part.
​The political link in this next one may not be immediately obvious, as the initial inspiration was drawn from the Jambinai song which gives the piece its title: ‘They Keep Silence’. This song was about the reaction of the South Korean government to the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014, but the painting could also link to any time any government has responded terribly to a tragedy (Grenfell, for example).
​The next two were specifically inspired by Trump and, slightly more optimistically, the protests against him and the far-right extremists he has enabled. In ‘Rise’ on the left I was thinking about the protests (quote from Radiohead), while the piece on the right, ‘When Truth is Uncertain’ was directly inspired by Trump and his relationship with the truth.
​The spate of school (and otherwise) shootings in early 2018 was the inspiration for the next piece, ‘The Gloaming’. The title and text come from Radiohead, and I was thinking about how some lobbyists (and other political figures) are willing to sacrifice almost anything and anyone to get their way or keep hold of power, even in the face of young children being murdered in a school.
​The final piece in this post is ‘A Scarecrow Prophet’, part of a new series I’ve just begun which is called ‘Age of Iron’. My personal feeling is that we are heading into dark times politically and I want this series to reflect and respond to that, to be willfully dark, using ‘shamanic’, ‘prehistoric’ tropes and images, as well as heavy textures. I want to end with something that looms over the viewer and feels oppressive, as a reflection for both the current state of global affairs and the darkest parts of our history. Sadly, there are times these days where it seems we are reliving the darkness of the past.
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<![CDATA[Where to next...?]]>Tue, 17 Jul 2018 02:39:18 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/where-to-next
​Part of the experience of being on a holiday away from the studio involves a lot of thinking about what will come next, so that’s what this post is about.
There are a few series I am still working on: ‘Heads’ will probably continue in much the same way as it has over the past (nearly) two decades. ‘Fictional Artefacts’ still has a few pieces planned before I’ll consider it done and there is still one more piece to go in the ‘Roots’ series.

​HEADS:
​FICTIONAL ARTEFACTS:
​ROOTS:
​I also have two other series in mind that will link to ‘Roots’, both involving an exploration of my past but attempting to do so in fairly ‘universal’ terms. The first will be ‘Mapping History’ and is something I had actually begun a few years back before the first piece was lost (it’s still out there somewhere, I just have to track it down) after I moved away from Thailand. The idea is to produce abstracted ‘maps’ of places I have lived in and that are important to, using the structure and iconography of Aboriginal dot paintings to remove the specificity out of the maps, encoding them somewhat. 
The second will be called ‘In Bad Dreams’ and will be more cathartic. The plan is to create a small group of paintings using a similar format: a textured abstract field with a centralized form, roughly rectangular or square, similar to the ‘card’ shapes in the ‘Roots’ series. The central form will be an abstracted representation of some sort of negative experience – loss, depression, madness, violence, etc. This depiction could be a flat 2-D representation, or could utilize collage elements depending on what seems most appropriate. Again, the idea is to draw on personal experiences and try to make them into something of a ‘universal’ narrative – less autobiographical and more symbolist.

Two other ideas are more political in nature. The first involves a similar mapping idea, but applying it to sites of trauma – sites of massacre and genocide. This would be more messy than the ‘Mapping History’ idea, with looser application of paint, heavy textures and corrupted geometry, and would also involve the canvas being ripped and torn – making the wound and scar in our history a physical presence in the image. Most likely the series would be called ‘Traumatic Sites’ or ‘Wounds’ or something similar. If the ‘A Better World’ series was about Utopian ideas, this series would be its counterpoint.

The second idea is more of a ‘state of the world’ reflection called ‘Age of Iron. One piece has already been painted:

​The series is planned as large scale and willfully dark, using ‘shamanic’, ‘prehistoric’ tropes and images, as well as heavy textures. I want to end with something that looms over the viewer and feels oppressive, as a reflection for both the current state of global affairs and the darkest parts of our history.
Besides these few ideas, there are other ideas brewing, but that are much less formed in my head. I’m hoping for a few more exhibition opportunities, both in Asia and Europe over the next year, with the good news being that there does seem to be some opportunities hovering on the horizon.
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<![CDATA[Exhibitions]]>Tue, 17 Jul 2018 01:47:12 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/exhibitions​I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a few group shows over the past year, starting with the ‘After Hiroshima (and beyond)’ show organized by IoDeposito at the B#S Gallery in Treviso, Italy. One of my small pieces, ‘A Black Rain Over Hiroshima’ was shown there, along with the work of  a group of international artists, all on the theme of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. I’ve also just had the good luck that the piece was bought by the IoDeposito NGO.
​My Utopian ‘A Better World’ series was on display for the month of November 2017 at the MASH gastropub in Shenzhen.
​In late December a few of my paintings were on show at the Fanspace Art Hotel Exhibition in Shanghai: ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ (which was sold), ‘The Middle Kingdom’, ‘A Cage of Air’, ‘In Our Dreams We Have Seen Another World’, ‘In Secrets And Silence’ and ‘Campaign of Sparrows’.
​Through this group I was invited to submit work to two other group shows, into which I was accepted. The first was called ‘In the Name of the Painting’ and was held at the Mei Bo Gallery in Shanghai. For this show I exhibited the 4 paintings from the ‘Middle Kingdom’ series pictured above.
​The second exhibition was held in Beijing by Rove Art and was called ‘Red and Fruit’. Two of my ‘Middle Kingdom’ paintings were shown at this group show: ‘Signal to Noise’ and ‘The Light Gleams an Instant’.
​Not long after this I was accepted into a second Rove Art group show, ‘On the Way’, once again held in Beijing. For this show I exhibited two of the paintings from my ‘Roots’ series – ‘The Body Within a Body’ and ‘The Memory of Fire’.
Most recently, three of my paintings on paper were part of an online exhibition with other members of the artist group I was invited to join. The exhibition can be found at https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/W2YleEE3amkxid5DtR75Bg
The paintings shown are part of my ‘Le Quattro Stagione’ series, which is a representation of the seasons and still missing the painting for summer. Shown below: ‘The Last Shunting of Autumn’ ‘In Winter Stones’ and ‘The Last Shivering of Spring’.
​I’m hopeful that the coming year will involve more shows, in Shanghai and elsewhere, and there seems to be strong possibilities that this may well happen. Watch this space…
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<![CDATA[More Experimenting]]>Sun, 15 Jul 2018 09:02:33 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/more-experimenting​While most of my work tends to be abstract painting, I have also worked in other media. Some experiments over the past couple of years have involved photographic and digital work, as well as lino-cut prints and cyanotypes. In the lino-cut prints I am trying to recreate something of the blocky feel of woodcuts, while focusing on scientific formulae and geometric forms, as can be seen in the examples below: “Black Hole Sun’, ‘Points of Departure’, ‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘Slow Heat Death’.
​In the cyanotypes I wanted to create something that linked to the idea of the sun (as sunlight is needed to make the pieces). As I was also reading about the Mayan's apocalyptic calendar (the Fifth Sun) the link between the two seemed irresistible. In this series of apocalyptic pieces, I also wanted to use the cyanotype process in a 'painterly' way, with different densities and strengths of colour, experimenting with the process for effect. The pieces work in two cycles – a bleached-out ancient cycle and a clearer, darker present cycle. They have a beginning, middle and end, but repeat certain motifs to hint at the cyclical nature of time. Below see ‘Openings’, ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘Closing Time’, ‘Under Violent Skies’, ‘A Seed in Time’ and ‘Storm and Static’.
​The digital works below follow my usual process of layering and treating digital photographs, often based around an idea taken from either mythology or philosophy. What I’m after, for the final  product, is something a bit eerie and surreal, taking recognizable objects and distorting or manipulating them until they become something other, subverting idea of that the camera never lies and making it something questionable and unreal: ‘Chasing Minotaurs’, ‘Harrowing the Houses of the Dead’ and ‘The Beauty of Being Numb 1 and 2’.
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<![CDATA[Other Works on Paper]]>Fri, 13 Jul 2018 01:54:36 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/other-works-on-paper​While I generally work in series, I have also created various other works, mostly acrylic or mixed-media on paper, that don’t fit precisely into any of them, although some of them may link either in terms of style or theme. Generally these are used to explore ideas, images and processes. Sometimes the ideas find expression later on in full scale works, other times they seem complete as they are and are kept as works in themselves.
The two pieces below, ‘Fall of Reason’ and ‘For Life’, were amongst the first things I painted after arriving in Shanghai and in both cases I was experimenting with ideas (a sort of abstract cubism and Miro-esque abstraction respectively), but they also have loose ties to the ideas that underpinned the ‘Middle Kingdom’ series.
​The following three pieces all link more directly to the ‘Middle Kingdom’ series. In the first and third, ‘Locust Tree’ and ‘Roots and Thorns’ I was using a calligraphic type brushstroke to evoke calligraphic writing. Additionally, ‘Locust Tree’ also refers to an event from Chinese history, when the ChongZhen Emperor hung himself from a tree and ended the Ming Dynasty. The middle piece, ‘New Leaves After Dead Flowers’, was inspired by the landscape I was seeing in Shanghai and the profusion of greenery, especially after my time in the Middle East, but also relates to an Imagist poem by Richard Aldington.
​The following two paintings also relate tangentially to literature. ‘Noises At Dawn’ was partly inspired by a line from an Auden poem, but was also an attempt at combining art history (Vitruvian Man), abstract expressionist paint handling and graffiti with political commentary. ‘Becoming Fictional’, on the other hand, links somewhat to the ‘Heads’ series in that the human form is suggested, but also to literature in that part of the inspiration was drawn from Grant Morrison’s ‘The Invisibles’. 
​Sometimes the paintings only have a vague stylistic link to other pieces I have done. ‘Speaking in Tongues’, ‘Descent’ and ‘Still’ feature a similar attempt at machine-like bio-morphism as ‘Fear Machine, as well as an overpainting technique used to different ends in the ‘A Better World’ and ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ series.
​In ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ I wanted to create abstract pieces that were linked by the idea of the seasons, evoking something of them, but not necessarily in obvious or expected way. ‘In Winter Stones’ was meant to evoke stillness and silence, ‘The Last Shunting of Autumn’ to the moment autumnal colours face out into the greys and milky-whites of winter and ‘The Last Shivering of Spring’ to the last gasps of cold as spring succeeds winter. The final piece relating summer is yet to be painted…
​‘A Better Place’ came about through a few impulses. I was experimenting with cyanotype processes and wanted to work more with the Miro-esque abstraction I had touched on with ‘For Life’. The title was inspired by Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol.
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<![CDATA[Other Works Inspired by Literature]]>Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:46:25 GMThttp://andrewcoleart.com/blog/other-works-inspired-by-literature​In a previous post I discussed the ‘Fictional Artefacts’ series, but these are not the only pieces that are based in some way on literature. I have also done smaller directly inspired by or related to either novels or poetry, beginning with the work below, ‘The Wasteland’, which was inspired by the TS Eliot poem. The work consists of 5 parts, each one inspired by, related to a quoting a section of the poem. The quotes are, for the most part, literal and exact, apart from the last part, which inserts Hong Kong and Shanghai into the list of major world cities to reflect geo-political change since the time the poem was written.
​The next piece was inspired by two writers: Dante and Larkin. ‘Escaping the Fires’ is a three part work on paper that is meant as an attack on the manipulation of people by fear. It uses the layout of Dante’s circles of Hell as part of its overall design and then contrasts that with lines from Larkin’s two poems ‘Church Going’ and ‘Aubade’ dealing with superstition and religion.
​The next piece is related to Seamus Heaney’s ‘Lovers on Aran’, quoting some of the lines as part of the image. I was aiming for something map-like visually and was thinking about identity and whether it is a thing in itself, or contingent on something else (the ‘Roots’ series explores the same sort of ideas and probably had its start here).
​‘Fear Machine’ was inspired by Jamie Delano’s ‘Hellblazer’. I wanted to use imagery that looked vaguely organic and insect-like while at the same time appearing machine-like. The quote refers to fear of something inside the self
​The final piece I will look at in this post was inspired by and named after the Dylan Thomas poem ‘The Force That through the Green Fuse’. My aim was to create something vaguely natural and plant-like, but also with a hint of something ‘wrong’, which I tried to create through the bleached-out and ‘diseased’ colours, as well as the figure shape emerging from the background.
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