There is a huge show at the MoMa, New York about Matisse's cut-outs, and I have been enjoying all the images of works, films, photographs of Matisse in his studio, etc. that are available on the internet (the MoMA facebook page keeps posting them, so no need for me to reproduce here). The show was originally in London's Tate Modern last year, and somehow I missed the hype, so sadly didn't see it. Apparently the MoMA show is an expansion of that one. With all this imagery and information floating around, I have been reminiscing about my relationship with the master, who I freely admit has influenced my work. I think this is obvious from some of my very early work such as this Sleeping Dee Dee, oil on canvas,122 cm x 91.5 cm, 1980.
The picture above is a re-photograph from a polaroid - I don't actually have any other documentation of this piece. I don't know if the painting still exists or not; I gave it to the model (my younger sister!) quite a long time ago. As well as Matisse, I was also influenced by an unknown painter who attended Parsons School of Design in New York. Before I painted this, a friend of mine had started attending that art school, and a rep from the school came to give the students in my art school a talk. The rep handed out the PS of D prospectus which included a painting where the shadows were painted light blue. At the time this was a revelation to me and it is apparent that I did the same thing with my shadows at the first opportunity!
I did so many drawings and paintings of my sister while she was sleeping that friends who had not met her asked if she was ever awake. This Sleeping Dee Dee is smaller than the one above, oil on masonite. Again, I have no documentation of this other than this re-photograph of a polaroid.
This is an oil on masonite painting, also from 1980 of a woman who I had met in a bookshop near my art school. She was looking for a house-mate and I rented a room from her for one month, my first foray away from home.
Matisse's cut-out show also made me think of how I enjoy the playfulness of art work. In 1989 I had a residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, ostensibly to create new work for my first exhibition in Dublin. However, due to availability (or lack of) at the Centre, I had all but one drawing complete for the exhibition by the time I was granted the residency. In many ways this was very liberating: I was not under any pressure, had a large studio to work in, food was provided with fabulous dinners being prepared by someone else and a variety of artists (playwrights, poets, musicians, sculptors, performance artists, other painters) on location for lots of interesting discussions over coffees and dinners,
So once I had the last drawing complete for the exhibition (a large black and white, graphite, figure drawing), I changed direction and got out colourful pastels, scissors and blue tack. Using imagery from my dreams I created an entire temporary environment in the studio.
It was at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig that I met and became friends with Dublin painter, Pat Moran, who dubbed my studio "The Playroom". Unfortunately Pat died suddenly in 1992 at the age of 30, and is sadly missed by the Irish art scene where his expressionist, figurative painting and drawing is known.
Further to my interest in "cut-outs" as a process, this picture of me in 1993 with some of my paintings from the My Tower of Strength series shows how I used cut-outs (the birds above the paintings) to help me figure out composition puzzles.
Sorry for the poor quality of photos in this post, but all images are re-photographs of existing photos and used as part of my training in GIMP, a free software programme which I am learning in order to replace my reliance on PhotoShop!