Knife Edge

Edge

Well this painting helped me get through a period of depression after constant ill health, there is a lot of detail in it and I could forget the lack of sleep and the endless torture of a body that is becoming a prison.

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Triptych _ ‘Réflexions on Bartok’s 1st. Piano Sonata’

Bartok's 1st. Piano Sonata

I think I was in my late teens when I first heard ‘Concerto for Orchestra’ by Bartok, I now remember thinking that there was something, ‘real’ about the music, original, so dynamic, bound to the earth in a way that would be revealed in later years as I understood more about him and his music. I hear Stravinsky’s music in a similar way maybe it’s the complexity and insistence of the rhythms, I’m not sure.
That first acquaintance with CFO, lead me to search out much more of his music and in fact if I had to choose just three pieces of music to spend the rest of my life hearing, ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ would be one of them. I’m not a great lover of opera in general, although I do like early opera but Bluebeard’ Castle is an emotional journey I can’t give up on, it truly puts you right there at the heart of a terrible, terrifying relationship, as Duke Bluebeard is gradually revealed as the serial killer/imprisoner he is and Judith, wanting more and more from Bluebeard, is drawn into his world and despite his warnings, eventually can’t help herself. A real journey into the complex emotional tangles men and women weave for themselves. Well worth searching out if you don’t know it, find a version performed in Hungarian.
This painting is concerned with a different work by Bartok, the 1st Piano Sonata (1926), a striking hard hitting rhythmic bomb that apart from the central slow movement never relaxes. The first canvas in the Triptych references the germ of an idea, growing in the composers head as we regard the second canvas, the third canvas finally evolving into the colourful world of folk melody, percussive rhythm and extreme dynamics underpinned by classical structure.

The painting is an attempt to unravel the complexity the sonata presents us with.

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The End of Innocence

End of Innocence
On first looking, I think the painting is relatively self-explanatory but there are some deeper thoughts going on here too. Superficially it documents a memorable break up, I was recently in contact with that significant other and we got along like a house on fire but times are very different, so we went our separate ways again with no hard feelings.
However if we have a soul, I don’t believe that we are limited to one ‘soul mate’ and that she was/is definitely one of them. Also I believe a close friend can be a ‘soul mate’. It is someone who you are closer to than anyone else, and the bond is family like.

Being born in the middle of the 20th century world war was close at hand, I’ve always been aware of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, particularly against the Jews. An alternative reading of this painting is that the archer is one of the Nazi regime’s women, strong but subservient, fertile, very feminine, often nude and always available to men. The male and female nude figured prominently in Nazi art, often set in rural surroundings or shown participating in sporting activities. The men were muscle bound, godlike, the women, shapely, pink-fleshed. So here the awful dogma of Nazi Germany, is represented by the kitsch archer, firing her arrows into the heart of the world, splattering the doves of peace with its blood.

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Remembering Wilfred Owen

Remembering Wilfred Owen

The poetry of Wilfred Owen has gradually established itself as some of the most important in all of English Literature, not without good reason. The subject matter, the horrors of the 1st. World War, the draft of hundreds of thousands of largely ignorant but patriotic young men, the blood sacrifice for country and his ultimate rejection of this idea as a ‘noble’ cause. His poetry can be hard hitting stuff, read ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ or ‘Spring Offensive’ and you are right there, falling off the end of the world, your blood caught by the open buttercups that grew on the field of battle. Wilfred Owen said, ‘My subject is war and the pity of war’, I have no love of war but I do feel great empathy with all those young men who were needlessly slaughtered, I also realise that but for the accident of my birth, I could have been there!
I’ve known this poetry for ever and it has stayed with me, I had to paint how it makes me feel. ‘Remembering Wilfred Owen’ is the first in a series of three paintings based on his poetry.

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Return of the Caliphate

Return of the Caliphate

As an anti-theist, the rise of religious fundamentalism is very worrying to me. I had to address this issue in a painting.
The title refers to the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and specifically ‘Daesh’ and their current badly challenged expanding Caliphate. But the painting isn’t an anti Muslim rant, although I reference ‘#jesuischarlie’ in the painting, it is a much broader mocking of mono-theism, Catholicism, Christianity, strict Judaism, Islam and the many others such as Mormonism and Scientology.
Mono-theism is represented in the painting by the ridiculous cyclopic bird, its blinkered vision emphasised by the captive rusting mono-track rail line it uses to wobble around its bullshit world. Contrasting this, a female nude represents knowledge, beauty and truth and all that is untainted by the ‘great’ religion’s poison.

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Before You After You

Before You After You

I am so fed up by man’s treatment, not only of the planet but of the unrelenting abuse of our animal neighbours, in particular large ancient mammals like the Rhino and the Elephant. 100,000 Elephants were massacred for their ivory between 2010-2012, this is more than a serious problem, it is catastrophic for the wild population, this cannot go on. If I was ‘King of the World’, I know exactly what I would do but as I am effectively no-one I can only protest and send donations to elephant friendly organisations.
As an artist I do have one arrow in my quiver and that is an ability to realise my thoughts and feelings in paint. Thus ‘Before You After You’ came about, oil on canvas, it was finished in three months whilst in a period of ill-health, I was constantly prevented from finishing it (as with other paintings) and thus it means more to me than some others I have completed.
But the feeling behind the painting is really what gives it meaning, just to clarify, the elephant, alone in an old desert palace represents all of nature, and even if all that is left are a few cockroaches and some foul weather, the planet will repopulate but not with man.

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