Friday, 7 October 2011

First Week at Standpoint residency

Where to start? I have been at Standpoint since Monday and looking back it feels a little like a whirlpool of activity has taken place in adjusting from life in Manchester to the big smoke; a whirlpool that very quickly feels normal. I intend to make the most of being in London and all that it offers, without letting the daily practice of being a painter slide away. Which takes me nicely to the fact that I am fortunate to be in London just as the major Richter retrospective starts and to visit this repeatedly is a luxury my manic-multi-gallery packed day visits rarely allows. On Wednesday I went to a talk by Benjamin H. Buchloch at Tate on memory and repression within Richter’s work. One thing has stuck in mind and made it’s way to the pub-based debate in the pub after the talk with friends. Buchloch stated that all the themes and ideas contained within Richter’s oeuvre could be traced back to one painting, Tisch (his ‘first’ painting produced in the West). He went on to maintain that in fact all artist have this one work that contains all their practice’s ideas and any subsequent works are unnecessary except to confirm this one work. I am pretty sure Richter would disagree with this. A Facebook post confirmed that many artists are appalled by this idea – “lazy arti historian crap, sorry”, “What a terrible thought to have to carry with you into the studio everyday - sometimes, but not always, theory can be terribly caustic to practice” or “So flawed and subjective a statement, as to be meaningless”. My own thoughts are that this is an interesting notion, but one for critics to worry about, not artists or else we would all give up now after only being able to reach check mate with their work. However I also wonder what my Tisch might be?
Anyhow back to the residency. The work I plan to produce over the 5 weeks I am here is a continuation of recent work in which I have been replacing the figure in reproductions of classical paintings with a hand painted geometric abstract mass. I intend to focus on the familiarity of the National Gallery’s collection of paintings and use and visit this wonderful place extensively. So on Wednesday I spent a few hours wandering in the labyrinth looking anew at these works and listening in on tours for paintings by Veronese and Massys. I shall be returning to the National regularly during my time in London.
Around the National I also went to several neighbouring galleries and this idea of infusing myself with art whilst in London is vital to be getting the most out of being here. So I also managed to catch the last day of Gordon Cheung’s show at Alan Cristea (I particularly responded to a still life painting which seems to suggest a new line of enquiry), Raqib Shaw at White Cube (art with one purpose, to be bought by billionaires with no taste), Phylida Barlow at Hauser & Wirth (every bit as fabulous as everyone is saying) and Charles Matton at AVA (fabulously intriguing miniatures of studios, libraries and other curious spaces). Then the studio, every day the studio.
Thursday saw me complete my first painting, a (nearly) sacrilegious painting over of Leonardo’s Virgin at the Rocks, I hope that something new is visible in the master’s painting by my additions. Only time can tell. I also met with the Standpoint resident artists over tea and cake and a most interesting möbius-strip like conversation, punctuated by Milo, Peter Jones’ very fine dog’s, stinky farts. After this was the rather odd experience of editing the press release with Matilda for a body of work which is still in the future, something is written, I wonder if it will portray the work I end up producing or if like Buchloch’s talk (supposed to be on chance and intention in Richter’s abstracts) will end up completely differently.
I went to 2 private views last night, out of god knows how many, on first Thursday’s marathon of openings. Sean Edwards was at Limoncello, a gallery I really like for their consistently high quality of artists and shows. I then went around the corner to hear a talk by a long seen friend, Simon Burton, at Arch 402 gallery. Simon said something particularly arresting during his very frank and honest talk about the importance of being unfashionable. This is something I have often thought about and it was interesting to hear his thoughts.
I write this early on a Friday morning at Vulpes Vulpes, the very friendly environment in which I am staying. In a few minutes I shall get the bus to see the Richter show for the first time (I want to get there early to beat the queues) before going on to the studio. Then next week bizarrely my residency moves to Venice for the week where I shall most certainly soak up an unindigestible amount of art. Right I better go and catch that bus.

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