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Interrogating Abstract Expressionism using Photography




the image should be based on something, not just chance

but there should be chance involved


the recognisable should be almost unrecognisable

and the unrecognisable should be familiar

an uncanny resemblance to nothingness

as well as everyone you’ve known at one point


the face means that each picture is not mute

as pictures of places and objects and nothing are


don’t paint likenesses but what the photograph looks like

in its light and dark, grain, blow-outs, stipple and circles of confusion

can you tell if it was shot on colour neg

or lit with a flash

is that the bright light of the morning sun on the side of the subject's face?

you should be able to tell

the drips and splashes must be able to held to account


interrogate photography with Abstract Expressionism

grain is not ink or paint

brushhair-strokes, spills and drips are not grain

but photography loves analogue detail, loves what it can't achieve by itself

let paint and ink be paint and ink

and in doing so render the photographic


see the photograph appear on the surface of your painting before you

start with the whites on a non-white ground

no tracing or gridlines

wait a bit

go back in with the darks and the midtones

very soon it will be finished but you might not be sure

until you go too far then you'll see in hindsight that it was finished

and now it's not


it pays to abandon the work just before you think it’s finished

on the up like the Bends not at the zenith like OK Computer

leave space for the Lord to enter the room as Quincy Jones would say

let paint and ink be paint and ink

overwork it and you'll be back on the merry-go-round

until you can smash it new again


should you varnish? canvas?

good question

oil paint just slows everything down and dulls the edges


more to come


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