|Work-in-progress 150x122 cms Oil on canvas 2012|
A growing theme in recent work has been paintings of paintings, or more precisely, paintings of objects that themselves contain a picture. This seems to function as a sort of secondary picture space, one situated within the overall confines of the physical picture space (i.e. the canvas). The example above is a work-in-progress based on an image of a Florentine altar piece containing 25 small picture panels.
I think that the desire to paint these objects is partly an attempt to negotiate a way of incorporating other painting languages or subjects into the schema of my practice, which has come to be quite a specifically defined territory. Generally the paintings need to depict objects in a fairly high level of detail, and presented as a single object against a dark ground. Over the past couple of years I have attempted to paint different types of objects, or groups of objects, or painting in different languages (or styles) without much success. It seems that the painting-within-painting could resolve these issues by allowing me to broaden my range of references (or even 'quote' things that are ostensibly alien to my practice) without being inconsistent.
In the piece shown above, I have deliberately altered the language of the painted panels from those in the original image. Instead of the early Renaissance detail, the images are presented in broad-brushed impasto, a nod to Modernist distortions and re-imaginings such as Graham Sutherland's crucifixions. The altar piece frame itself of course has to be presented in a much more detailed, representational style.
Here is an earlier work (from the start of 2011) that is as yet unfinished. I think it is the first proper 'painting-within-painting' I made. The image is loosely based on a Renaissance landscape and the frame is from a stock image. I have found this painting quite difficult hence haven't resolved it thus far, but I think it is a useful step in the progression of the current work.
Another long running interest for me has been decorative banners. I am currently planning a large painting of a banner (another type of painting-within-painting) taking reference from the rich visual tradition of trade union and military banners such as the wonderful examples below:
Apart from the strong aesthetic values of these objects (and it is important that they are objects - at once both object and image, a meeting of the material and illusionistic, just as a painting is) I am drawn to their links to heraldic tradition, and connotations of power, ideology and unison in service of a greater cause.
In the past I have made banners as artworks in their own right - such as the example below - and I was pleased to have the opportunity to show these pieces once again in a recent exhibition (Everything London 2012). This seems like a nice meeting place in my practice - as the banner as artwork object connects with the current plans to make a painting of a banner.
|Imperial Standard 2007 210x150 cms Appliqued Fabric|