Pannonica

The drawing ‘Pannonica’ took about two months.   I was about two-thirds of the way through when it acquired a very strong association in my mind with Thelonious Monk (1917-1982), whose recorded piano playing I have been listening to for over thirty years.20130531 PARKART4367 .Panonica Small cropped

Perhaps it was because my shapes, as they emerged,  reminded me of 1950s-graphics, and the fifties was when he was arguably at the height of his powers.  We seemed to share a taste for quirky ‘modern’ asymmetry,  with unashamedly nostalgic ornament, (you might have to listen to his playing to understand).  I listen to Monk in different ways, either intently, or letting it wash over.

By the way, if anyone told me that their artwork was inspired by music, I would take it with a pinch of salt. It’s probably a bad idea. The picture is possibly too decorative and too much an ‘all-over’ picture, but right now I care not. The interest for me is in the close-up invention of shapes.  This is the instrument I am learning to play.

I was nearly finished when I saw a documentary about Monk’s soul-mate Pannonica Koenigswarter (née Rothschild), called ‘The Jazz Baroness’.  So much of the information was a revelation to me (for instance Monk’s mental health issues) and for days I couldn’t stop thinking about their unlikely friendship.  There are numerous musical compositions dedicated to Pannonica, including one by Monk called simply ‘Pannonica’.  Her parents, being keen entomologists, named her after a moth.  After learning this I couldn’t help seeing a kind of abstract animated dance, like moths around a light source. None of this is important, nor was it consciously put in the picture.  It certainly isn’t a prescribed ‘reading’, but after it had occurred to me, I found it agreeable; hence the title.

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a B o U t M y D r A w I n G s

  • I find my artwork difficult to write about.  The following feels preliminary.
  • I see myself as someone who lives in a rural environment in an information-saturated time.  I think that it is increasingly important not to conflate notions of the “contemporary” with an urban life.
  • Shapes are important. Zoologists, biologists, architects, engineers, designers of all kinds, know the importance of shapes.  It’s a mistake to think that form is trivial.
  • I didn’t become an artist to not play with shapes.
  • Art, especially drawing, is not really for being good at, its purpose is much more open and hard to define than that.
  • Art is rooted in a magical world-view, it is irrational.  Science is about trying to understand things despite being human and irrational.  I believe in science more than art, although I know very little about it.
  • On the subject of drawing and being human: Just as emotions seem to reside in the body, important kinds of thinking seem to occur in the hands, as all practical people know.
  • Drawing is something I can do in a state of uncertainty, without a clear intention.  As I continue, a clearer intention emerges.  This process is what I call creativity, and I stay as close to it as possible.
  • When I am drawing I experience joy intermittently, and this is a most persuasive reason for doing it.
  • With very few exceptions, the motifs, which comprise my drawings, are executed once only and never repeated.  I paint directly on to the paper without preparations
  • I often think of my shapes as either having once had significance which they  have lost, or being without significance but looking for it.   I am trying to express some separation between what a shape is and what it might mean.
  • I prefer to work with ordinary art materials that would be easily available to an amateur artist.
  • The shocking, repetitious and willfully incongruous are not interesting to me, so they don’t appear in my drawings.
  • Attentive development is the route to everything subtle and unexpected.
  • I will continue with this list when I think of more things.

Shit

You are burnt sienna stuck to a blanket,

raw umber on the doctor’s gloved finger,

a secret ochre on peach coloured triple-ply.

You are the untouchable

 

turd at the end of a stick,

protesting dirtily.

Soil of soiled underpants,

threatening to collide with a fan,

a happening in nappies.

 

You are the word at the brunt,

and the rising spires left

by dogs; impasto

in the tread of my shoe,

printed on carpet.

 

You are the peeping brown crayon,

solar eclipsing,

and the toad, dumped

in a porcelain hole,

never going home.

 

I sprinkle you with

hundreds and thousands

award you each

a union jack

on a cocktail-stick.

 

You are the movement

and the mythic brick.

O happy is the pig in you!

 

2003

With These Eyes

I have seen sandwiches and their wrappings

On the roofs of moving cars,

Beacons of forgetfulness.

 

I have seen brightly coloured swatches of evening dresses

Caught in the doors of moving cars

Rippling like low flags.

 

I have seen loose dentures

Of a sleeping old lady

Moving independently of her jaw.

 

Once, I saw my girlfriend’s sister’s vagina when euphoric twirling

Made her skirt rise and she was not wearing underwear.

I said, “I saw your vagina”, and was asked to leave.

 

I have entered cubicles

An found shocking brown truth

Of other peoples’ turds.

 

I once saw a man,

Worse for drink,

Urinate on his own dog.

 

And once I noticed a conjuror’s

Absurd plastic thumb,

Which, oddly, no one else saw.

 

2003