Posts Tagged ‘Borges’

Blackpaint 97

March 28, 2010


That Borges story I was on about in Blackpaint 38, the one about the cartographer who made maps on the same scale as the ground he was mapping was from “A Universal History of Infamy” and was called “On Exactitude in Science”.  It’s only half a page long.  He got the idea from Lewis Carroll, it seems – or at least, Carroll had it first.

This painting is the most recent one I’ve done; I finished it last night.  I don’t think it’s particularly good, but it illustrates to me something that I wasn’t aware of before.  that is that some of my paintings are about integration and structure and some are about falling to bits.  This one, for instance, has a well defined structure stretching from the left edge to the centre of the canvas comprising black, white, grey and ochre shapes and one red.  There are looser areas of light green, ochre and white above and below, which give a superficial (and unintentional) impression of sky and reflections in water.  Structure and the illusion of foreground and background.  Compare this with the one below:

No background or foreground, no single structure or focal point – an “all over” picture, more or less.  It’s not actually “falling to bits” – but it is in pieces, sort of. 

So – I’ve got a bunch of paintings like the first one and some, but not many, like the second.   Not that interesting, I grant you, but a revelation to me.  Enough of that, however, because I hold to that idea that, if you know too much about what you do, you won’t be able to do it any more – and I want to do a few more yet.



Blackpaint 38

January 13, 2010

Acrylic Stink (cont.)

Yes, the closest I can get to a description is metal and blood; a really penetrating stink that gets in the back of your throat.  Or maybe an old fashioned cap pistol, after you’ve fired off a whole roll of caps – remember them, thin turquoise paper with little black pods of gunpowder trapped in them; anyway, like that, with maybe an undertone of sour milk.  But then, this evening I fried chicken livers and they smelled like it too.

My latest effort, which I thought I’d transformed from a mimsy pastel to a wild, black and blood- coloured expressionist maelstrom,  failed to impress my partner, who said it was like curtains from the 50’s – then explained that that was good; so I’ve done another one on same lines.  I’ve got to say that they look more like the pictures on the covers of ’60s US science fiction paperbacks than curtains, to me anyway.  Down the bottom; judge for yourselves.

Harold Rosenberg

According to my Art Theory for Beginners, Rosenberg, who invented the term “action  painting”, said he “saw the canvases (of the AbExs) as arenas that embodied a passionate and engaged struggle by the artist’s individual psyche with their material”.  Yes, me too; certainly is a struggle.

Fischli and Weiss

I was thinking about that thing of figurative artists being less “authentic” than abstract artists, because their work (the figuratives,  that is) is doomed always to be a copy or reproduction of nature (see  Blackpaint 36).  The above pair came to mind; they have an exhibit in the Tate Modern which looks like a carpenter’s or decorator’s set-up in a corner.  There is a trestle, buckets, tools, drink can, various bottles, fag packet I think, etc., etc.  The point is that all this stuff is made out of polystyrene and the like, and is all false – although virtually perfect in every detail.  So, they’ve reproduced all this exactly, taking infinite pains, when it would have been simple just to collect the real stuff together.  

This reminded me of several things; first, des Esseintes in Huysman’s A Rebours, who likes to buy real flowers that look artificial.  Then, a story by Borges about a cartographer who is obsessed with making a perfect map and ends up working on a map that reproduces exactly the terrain – not to scale, but exactly.   And that led me to Blackadder, when B shows the general a table model of the ground captured in the last attack – again, not to scale but exactly.

When I looked for the title of the Borges story, I couldn’t find it in any of my Borges collections, which I suppose is a bit Borgesian in itself.  Now I’m thinking it might have been by Kafka.  If anyone knows, please tell me.

Listening to TBone Walker again; “The Hustle is on”.

“Times is hard baby, the hustle is really on, (*2)

Prices are high darlin’ and all the good jobs are gone.”