Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heroism, Work in Progress

Heroism, a killing, up north, a secondhand account
Oil on canvas
80cm x 100cm

dedicated to Chagall

At one point it said "Valorous" at the bottom, now
I am thinking of adding the word, "Don't"
As in, "I don't have the courage of your convictions."
As in when Mr. Verloc said, "Don't."
(in The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad)

As it turns out, I have an adverse opinion on speech balloons in the plastic arts
And even the little Jesus fish that snuggled in the water, lower-centre for many days
Received the harshest criticism. As with many things about my painting
Only I saw it and it will be seen no more.

"What do you think about your use of colour?


"It comes out of a tube...
"I wish I could afford the more expensive colours...
"There is a certain detachment or ambivalence that I have towards colour once it's
"part of a picture...
"some pictures are harmful and it is important to be vigilant.
"I am thinking of the line, 'See? It's okay. He saw it on the television.'
"In other words, if understanding the incomprehensible is the issue then colour is at issue,
"not the issue...
"Nobody wonders about the light from their TV unless it effects the picture,
"or it starts speaking like a Casper David Friedrich."

Laughter subsides

Peanut Gallery
"You like The Shining?"

"Yeah, that's Jack Nicolson's line there, you're right.
"He's talking about cannabalism.
"This, however, is a picture of a caribou being shot twice in the neck."

"How do you paint your skies?"

"I use two colours...
"--once I used three but most of the time it's two.
"White and blue work well...
"When I think about painting a sky--I mean think,
"Then I usually try to get all the things you get in a sky--
"its winds, temperatures, UV exposure, light, molecules, I guess,
"mostly pollution depending whether you're happy where you happen to be...
"There are skies that I'd like to paint.
"I'd like to paint a picture of the Northern Lights (but
"I haven't had the good fortune, yet). I'd like to paint,
"The Theft of the Stars over T. O.
"or The Other Side of the Wind...
"If I could only see it, eh?"


"In this painting... my fingers, too."

Weak Laughter

"What's [Quarry] about?"

"An apocalyptic vision, I guess...
"It's intention is to be childish
"about Jesus' promise to make ye
" 'fishers of men'.
"I did it when a friend suggested that I do a painting about fishers of men
"And so I used a painting called Quarry
"or 'Abandoned Quarry',
"which I did very quickly after returning from an exhibit on loan from the
"Museum of Modern Art at The Art Gallery of Ontario,
"and I painted the now finished painting, still, obstensably, a picture of a quarry,
""in Wainfleet
", overtop."

"How long does it take you to paint a painting?"


"Well, in an interview with Russel Cousins he noted that I used the term
" 'EpiZodes'. At the time I think it was quite a few of them to a painting.
"The interview is published at, under interviews.
"Sometimes its one and then two, as in, Quarry.


"Not that I have decided definitively to stop painting "Quarry"
"But I'll continue to work on the second episode,
"for the foreseeable future, with different paintbrushes,
"different paint...
"I read once that an art lover took a painting from Cezanne
"because Cezanne often over-painted his paintings, and
"it's not a coincidence that
"one of the easiest paintings that I've done is a bather, a tribute to Cezanne,
"called, The Restoration of Beauty."

Peanut Gallery
"Why was it easy?"

"It was easy to paint."

"What are the critics like?"

"Very friendly. Someone once took down from my wall The Restoration of Beauty because he
"felt a curse was on him...
"But other than that I've kept the losses to my self-esteem to a minimum...
"I found my tribute to Cezanne the next day behind my toilet...
"I took it as a rather personal form of art criticism...
"Whatever criticism is
"Criticism adds something in the work. Even an easy painting can have more than
"two episodes, if we count the anecdotes--
"and I think we can--
"and do."

A chair squeaks

"If I can return to the use of colour?
"I'll elaborate."
"I don't think a critic is going to say that I consider the colour-blind.
"I do, although I don't know what effect that has on the end result...
"The colour-blind are fascinating if you are a painter, right?"

Peanut Gallery
"Will your paintings clash with my furniture?"

"I hope not. They don't stand a chance."

"Who has influenced your work"

"Norman McLaren.
"Animation fascinates me.
"And 'F for Fake'
"Orson Welles' film about the great art forger, Elmir."

"It looks like you were on LSD when you painted Agricola, were you?"

"I've never done LSD.
"They used to ask painters if they'd eaten anything..."

"What else are you working on, other than Heroism?"

"I am working on 'The View from a Bank'
"Its title now is Fox, Hedgehog, and Man Waving at The SkyDome from the precipice of the "Niagara Escarpment...
"Perhaps without the Isaiah Berlin reference..."

"Is one of your paintings worth a billion of another?"

"That's a good question.
"Nietzsche said, 'gather zeroes'...
" 'If one wants followers, gather zeroes.' Nine zeroes is okay, I guess,
"compared to some...
"But I don't think that way...
"--Not a bit."

Peanut Gallery Applauds

"Do you believe it when someone tells you they need to speak to their husband
"About a purchase?"

"Yes. I think some of the best art criticism is done by married couples."

"What do you have to say, by way of trivia?"

"The stumps in 'The View from a Bank' were originally backpacks on Brock students."

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