Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Black & White

The facebook page of the Museum of Modern Art informed me that it was Franz Kline's birthday a few days ago, and of course posted a picture of one of his paintings to celebrate. It reminded me of how much I like this painter's work. In general, I have a love for the painterliness of Abstract Expressionism and I think it leaks into my own work, figurative or abstract.


Here is another Franz Kline black and white painting. Is it completely abstract or is it a figure standing on a bridge? Actually, I was taught that "abstract" means "taken from" which is completely different from "non-objective" work that aspires more to music (such as the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky).


The elegy series of Robert Motherwell are another group of abstract paintings using mostly black and white to great effect.


In 1984 I was on holiday in Ireland, visiting my parents, so I was using the minimalist palette of black and white to created postcard size self-portraits. In fact I used old postcards acquired from the local shop of one of my aunts. These two pieces from the series were included in a retrospective show in Wicklow County Buildings in 2005, "Coming of Age: Work from the Past 25+ Years".


I had previously painted a few large pieces (3' x 4') of figures in relation to the canvas solely in black and white, but only the small self portraits have survived from this time period.


At the time, among my music choices was The Stranglers including this song from their album Black & White, "In the Shadows".


I revisited the minimal palette in the early naughties with "There She Goes" a large multi-panelled painting on card. The card panels were painted first with my signature magenta background, which is always allowed to peep through subsequent layers of paint. This piece too was exhibited in the Coming of Age exibition in 2005.


While I love bright colours in my paintings (browns never get a look in), there is also something about the possibilities of limitations which is fascinating. Last year I was completely taken with the Jean Charles Blais exhibition that I saw in Antibes, most expecially the black and white figure paintings.