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.