The Red Propeller 5/11 show seemed to pass off rather well. Actually, in comparison with my previous shows over the last twenty years, that has to rate as the understatement of my career. The private view was very well attended, despite the galleries relatively tucked away location. Work was being eyed up from the start of the night and by the end of the event more than half had been bought or reserved. Within a fortnight virtually all the work had sold – a new experience for me; hopefully one which I can repeat in the future. I also met up with a likeminded soul in the person of Mister Aitch, another artist who considers politics in art as being more or less a pre-requisite. I’ve been conversing over the electronic ether with him for a few months now and we’ve also been exchanging work. Hopefully sometime in 2008 we might get to put a joint show together celebrating the joys of the concept of state governance – I’ve just got to fit in with all of the other demands put on me following the new found interest in my work.
I’m not complaining. It would be disingenuous of me to whinge about the turn my life has taken since July this year. Admittedly as I’m typing this I’m looking out of a window at Brittany’s best horizontal rain, but I’m not preparing for a Monday trip to a hospital job. Following the damage to the studio I’m dressed to paint like an Eskimo, but I’m not worrying about union cases to represent for the following week. And though we’re separated from all our friends in the UK we’re making new creative contacts here. Only yesterday I was contacted by a local newspaper who were given my details by a local gallery owner who we’ve been getting on famously with – I’m not sure of the reasons yet!
There’s the ‘twelve days of xmas’ show that Motorboy has been putting together in Bristol coming up shortly. I would have liked to pop along but I’m too busy here at the moment. As well as sending some work his way I’ve been working on paintings for a January joint show at Signal Gallery in London. I really wanted to submit to this exhibition as Harry Simmonds is showing too and though it doesn’t really count as a ‘neomodern’ event it will be nice to have my work on a wall with his. A couple of people have expressed an interest in curating a specific neomodern group show and I’ll do my best to encourage their enthusiasm – we’ll see what happens.
I’ve also got to submit work for consideration by the auction house Bonhams for their impending urban art auction and though most of the die-hard supporters of ‘urban’ art probably wouldn’t consider my painting urban enough I have to be grateful to those that have broadened their buying from pure graffiti influenced work. It is this group of art buyers that have put me where I am now.
Even though I’m not a street artist I would like to be considered as working from a similar perspective as the more traditional (if there can be such a thing!) urban artists, even if my media and methods are different. We all seem to find a need to express ourselves politically through art and I think it is this that has generated so much interest in the genre of late. There is a generation that grew up through and after punk and see creativity as being intrinsically linked with social commentary. I think for most of these people the antics of the meticulously engineered and controlled contemporary art market, not to mention the deliberately obscurantist and pseudo-philosophical output of some of its most famous creators, is considered irrelevant to domestic scale art consumption. I’ve frequently associated BANKSY with an artistic identity not totally unrelated to the 18th century English painter and engraver Hogarth, and I think you can extend the comparison to many other contemporary ‘urban’ artists.
I’m still working full-time on the painting. One of the particularly good things about the move to rural France is the loss of distraction and the ease with which I can focus on painting literally full-time. The latest pieces are, I think, even more layered, worked and laboured over than those from the last half of 2007. I don’t know if the work is getting more intense in the viewing, but it’s certainly getting it in the production. I’m also still working on the few pieces that were not ready for the 5/11 show including more concerning the 9/11 attacks.
I’ve also received positive emails and comments regarding the paintings that deal overtly with the World Trade Center attacks, these were the paintings that I was most worried for about the feedback. One woman, an American, told me that she looked at my site after being told about them and was moved to tears by ‘Vanity Fair’. This was definitely the career highlight in terms of a viewer’s response to any of my painting.
“Vanity Fair” 2007