Nigel P : Hi Stuart & Catherine
So, I'm revisiting P&L after a short break and the first work and discussion I happen across throws up all sorts of questions and queries mirroring my own creative wrangles- so feel compelled to respond!
One thing, the reproduced painting P.W.U reminds me of a screen shot from an untuned analogue TV, with lines ghosting, delicately making and breaking pattern. Then I read the description "drawn into" and I chuckle, because I have been: caught staring at static again. I look again and try to think through how the lines were made - with a single point, a multi pronged implement, lots of different tools? Was there scrapping over, or repainting... how thick is the surface? I imagine slabs of paint like icing, with lines carved: a surface of tracks.
I'm musing about the nature of this painting and what the screen yields, I'm enjoying the pattern and controlled rhythm, when I read about Stuart's return to paint after years of making sound works, and the thing becomes some kind of score: maybe the surface is a flattened cylinder from an archaic phonograph....
I wonder whether the surface could be 'played' in some way, but reading on am distracted by what Stuart says of his degree experience - there's a flicker of recognition: I started my degree insisting on being a maker of things, and finished it (25 yrs or so ago) writing about Bladerunner and photographing shopping malls. What was it that closed down the options for making stuff? An arts education thing, a zeitgeist phenomenon?
I then read Catherine's question about Mat Collings and the recycled 'death of painting'. It's like a nostalgia hit - can see Collings Late Show docs from the early 90s, his roaming round Marfa, cosying up to Jeff Koons.... I'm actually thankful for all this, Collings' arts telly opened up a world for me, in the same way Berger did a few years earlier. I'm glad too, that Collings and Bell now make their finely nuanced patterned paintings, and I'm especially glad to be introduced to P.W.U- whatever the title stands for.
Stuart Dodman: Hi Nigel,
Thank you for your kind words, they really resonate with me, in fact - line, carve, scrape, rhythm, surface might be a better statement!
I'm not sure what it was about art education in those days, but by opening up everything it certainly closed down options for making stuff - the funny thing is the tutors who pushed everyone in that direction were very good at talking but creatively impotent. Where did you study?
Whatever it was I'm certainly still battling those education demons today...
It's funny you use untuned tv as quite a lot of my sound work used those frequencies and sign waves. In particular a work called TO which you can hear here if you like - http://www.stuartdodman.com/sound/
This series of paintings are all made using a small knife - action of the application of paint traced back into, apply again, trace back into etc. At the time I started the series I wanted to make base paintings - no colour, minimal technique, no image, one tool. I've also been thinking about image reproduction (specifically printing) and making the painting a printing matrix but haven't really fleshed this out. I'm obsessed with making them at the moment and haven't expanded the possibilities yet - I don't know if I will.
Your description is pretty spot on (paint like slabs of icing with lines carved) - drawn.
At the moment the relief of the lines in these paintings is too deep to be 'played' but I'm working on some things which certainly live in that world. But then I have my baggage to deal with so I'm not sure I'll ever share them and at the moment they feel more like an experiment than anything that excites me.
I do hope your creative wrangles don't get in the way. Although saying that sometimes some distance and letting life get in the way from producing can help.
P.W.U - refers to Metzinger
Nigel P : Hi Stuart
That was ace - just had a look and listen at your website. Can feel the correlation between the sound scapes and painted surfaces, like a stylus that keeps catching on the ridges.
We touched on education - think if I was back there now I would sue (well would need to recover the fees!) My degree came to be staggered across institutions in Wales and North: when I finally escaped it seemed like it was impossible to make stuff, and I ended up trying to disseminate whatever ideas I had about visual culture through adult education programmes. I think my time as an undergraduate gave me an odd sense of guilt about making, production, being creative...it's only in the last 5yrs or so that I've started to overcome that - I've pondered further formal study, but instead have a slightly cock-eyed autodidactic approach to learning - kind of developing thoughts online, with blogs and communities such as P+L.
I've been intrigued by sound works for a little while. As a young person I quickly learned I was tone deaf so musicality always seemed off limits as an expressive outlet. But hearing works by colleagues over the years has given me some idea of the dimensionality of sound, and at one point I even played with making my own layered recordings - trying to get to some sense of spatio/temporal distances involved....
Sound or more accurately, its erasure or absence, plays a part in current projects: I'm trying to make some approximation between Manet's Old Musician (heroically musical & poised but silent dispossessed outsider); the chromatic values of pagan ribbon trees as the staking out of unvoiced wishes and desires; and the mysteries of Saintly warning bells warding sailors away from rocks....its all vibrations and echoes.
Repetition and reprococity seem to play across your paintings and sound works - and I'm very taken with what you said about print making and painting as a form of matrix for print work. I've had the pleasure of seeing Jane Boyer's work on P+L and your words made me think particularly of her pieces Token and Versions:Matrix as possible fellow travellers along this road. You also reminded me of some college notebook dreams I had of making a kind of reading/writing machine - but thats another story.
Many thanks for showing this work, for you words and the resonances they've provoked.
Stuart Dodman: I hope I get the chance to hear some Nigel!
Catherine Haley Epstein: Hello Stuart!
These painting/drawings are terrific. Per your bio you mention you were making installations previously and are now primarily painting. Can you talk a bit about this decision? I fully believe painting remains an important medium in fine art, and have come across many nay sayers lately on the "painting is dead" topic. It's a tired argument, and Matthew Collings (a painter and critic) on your end of the planet has recently been pronouncing its death. Thoughts on the matter? In my humble opinion it's the most rebellious thing one can do at present, if done well. Lastly - can you speak to your color palette? I'm noticing the color versus the black and white - do you prefer one to the other? Thanks for considering my questions!
Stuart Dodman: Hi Catherine,
Wow, It's a trap!
I'm mucking about but that's a big question and as you say one that has been asked over and over again for many years. I first started thinking about it 25 years ago during my degree where I decided to stop painting, at the time I thought it wasn't open enough for me and why paint anyway it's all been done before and is completely irrelevant (it was dead then too) instead I'll read Blanchot and make art about making art.
In my case I don't think I made a decision to stop making installations and start painting again but the activity of painting became relevant for me again - I started painting and it became another part of a vocabulary.
The fact that I haven't stopped painting again plays on my mind more than the fact that I'm painting. I find painting difficult in every sense of the word.
I personally don't care what sound bites Matthew Collings has. I don't believe that thinking about if painting is dead (or sculpture/photography/drawing/installation/object/time-based/print/performance/film/sound etc etc) is productive or that relevant either. The most important thing is to make work, use whatever medium fits (of course you have to question, critique and answer why for yourself).
Each discipline is a tool to use and each are no more dead or alive than the other in the broader context. So I think that any question of death is ridiculous - I certainly do know that I don't know his definition - do you think he is talking about some kind of idea of what painting is or do you think he is talking about an old definition of what painting has been? Or is he talking about the art market machine? Or is he talking about being a painter? Or is he talking about moving things forward? Or is he saying that other things have more life or scope? I'm not sure and I think that's an important thing to understand.
I don't have a preference with colour. White I can manipulate for longer and it asks different questions of the viewer which I find interesting.
I hope some of that reads OK and thank you for looking and asking!
Catherine Haley Epstein: Thank you Stuart - very eloquent. I totally agree vis a vis Collings' comment, though I couldn't resist asking you about it, as artists we always need to find solidarity and principals for what we are doing.
I'm excited to see more of your work, and maybe one day in person. BTW - what does P.W.U. stand for?
Stuart Dodman: Thanks Catherine - that's very kind.
P.W.U - you'll have to fill those in yourself ;)