Drawings 2000 - 2004
These pieces are the result of wholesale changes in my work, which began in 1997-98.
Many of my observations about this period are with the benefit of hindsight, of course. At the time much of what I did was instinctive and rather feverish in approach. In 1997 I slowly realised that the work I was doing was going nowhere it was dead, no feeling was coming back of the surface of canvas or paper, nothing, I simply had no interest in it .
Time to review things and as a consequence , work had to be got rid of. It was the physicality of doing this, of, looking at what and how I was disposing of the work, tearing, screwing old drawings into balls of paper, that gave me direction and refreshed and changed the way I thought about my art and how it would happen and what it would look like. At first I was simply looking at these piles of ash, balls and strips of paper, but soon I began to make new work out of this detritus, pristine balls of paper, torn fragments stuck on a spike, piles of old drawings, stacked in a perspex box or on shelves. For a short while I made a piece with balls of paper, old drawings in fact, leaving them in public spaces to be found and thrown away again, not by me but a stranger, this was a six month project, a reflection on, what I felt was the futility of my situation. An obscure artist at the end of the 20th.Century, past his sell by date. It wasnï¿½t the only thing I was doing, in fact I was doing and trying so much, I felt I needed to stop just to take stock again and develop a strategy.
As an antidote to all this activity and as away of calming things down, I began to set rules, deliberate limits as to how paintings and drawings would come about. I disposed of many of my old ways of working, but tried to retain what I saw as key elements, i.e. Line, tonality, paper, paint, limiting it to monochrome only, black and white in fact. I wanted to make simple impersonal decisions, for a change, no emotions or angst.
After some experimentation with oil and acrylic, I settled on the latter and began painting from scratch, a fresh start.
My method of working began with the shape, a square, be it either paper, or board. In both cases the key constituent was the hand drawn straight line. This would be a way of reflecting on my physical state , how good was my hand and eye coordination ,how far could I stretch vertical or horizontal how straight could I draw these lines. I drew the line in paintings through wet black acrylic onto a white ground and in drawings by using an empty biro and rubbing graphite onto the paper, which as if by magic left the inscribed biro lines in white.
Rule 1 all lines would divide a surface in two; all additional lines would do the same. If I used alternative verticals and horizontals a grid would ensue. I found the key for me was the fact that all these marks and concomitant decisions were by eye and hand, with no mechanical aids, thus setting up an opposition between, what could be described as cold rules and human frailty. Drawing that first line down or across the centre of pristine wet paint or paper had a real tension for me. These pieces and the method I chose to produce them became the central thrust of my new work.
I saw the ï¿½lineï¿½ as a life long element in my work, but changed it from an expressive thing to a more objective thing describing as it did itsï¿½ own direction and length and no more. Keeping this singular idea I began to do some drawings using dots. The essence here being the dotsï¿½ none character, it is a dot that is all.
How I placed them again was down to my eye and judgement, but they followed the same rules as the linear work.
During this time 2001-2003-4, I was trying to go to an extreme, as I saw it, as often as I could conceive of doing so and in doing so I think I liberated myself from my artistic past, itï¿½s still there, of course, but separate; a weightless thing.