Thursday, July 31, 2014

No place to hide

Mid winter and a cold studio has moved me to drawing on the dining room table.  Country life often feels isolated from any art scene, especially when observing the feast of art shows on the internet. 

I'm excited by what drawing has brought to the surface so far, it's directness and immediacy being the first unexpected discoveries. When you start with a blank piece of paper and pencil, immediately you're faced with, what is driving the work? There's no place to hide.  

My initial intent was to get more from tone than I had been getting in my paintings. I wasn't as good as I remembered and it took time to warm up. The decisions to be made couldn't be sidelined, no colour, no paint to distract. I find that the discoveries happen differently through this medium, not sure I can explain the why of that. It seems such a paradox to be in control, yet to also break into new space.

Thinking I was hibernating in the hills of Onewhero, posting my efforts to Facebook, I find my drawings on a curated art blog overseas, there amongst shots of sleek dealer galleries sits photos of my drawings on grubby studio walls.  

Below is the first work I have done since beginning drawing.

Note to self: paint studio walls

Touching Ground Lightly,  2014  Acrylic, aluminium 600 x 600 mm

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Size Matters  

I've been getting the advice from some to go bigger, prompting discussions around scale, content and physicality.  I think scale is part of the content and amping up the visceral experience by bending space on a larger scale is something to explore.  

I'm also exploring drawing as an end in itself.  Usually drawing is my tool for trying things out, or the starting point to asking questions. My hope is that drawing will expand my understanding of tone, form and perspective.  The length of one of the three current drawing projects is a year, which allows reflection and development to occur. Working towards a show does promote faster decision making, in that you are forced to push through obstacles in order to resolve work for the impending show. Conversely I see value in working while not having the end date pressures, no matter how hard and fast you work, learning occurs when understanding happens. I've been asked to write about these drawing projects for a UK site, so I'm here trying to record my thoughts, to map expectations against the outcomes later.

This week I was lucky enough to receive  feedback from an overseas art critic and artist.  It was wonderful to have fresh eyes looking at my work, his words lifted me, and his advice rang true.

Add more tone
Introduce colour, perhaps one at a time.
Expand scale, or consider group installation

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Alone at the Coal Face 

Someone recently advised me that if a reviewer doesn't like what you do, you should do more of it. 

I had my work reviewed three times last year. I was grateful for some really good honest critique, as having my work challenged forced me to further question my position, which in the end strengthened my resolve to remain on the same path.  There are things I still want to find out.

In preparing for a presentation last year, I collected and studied three years worth of images, basically looking at what I had done from Masters onwards. Doing this proved valuable in that it gave me a long shot view of where I'd been and which works were more resolved.

My last work of 2013 Ground is my jumping off point for this year, another starting point is to use this space as an extension to my work book: a place to deposit ideas and find focus, to build a visual diary for later reflection.
Diane Scott Ground  2013 Acrylic, aluminium, enamel 600 x 600 mm
James Wallace Arts Trust

Paint: as frame, backdrop, form, perspective and plane
Support: as format, ground, plane, drawing, form, reflective and object
Colour: as deferral (yellow halo), spatial flatness and shape (white), mid space (grey)
Trace: as form, perspective, reflective
Format: square repeated, tilted, floating and off wall, 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Photography’s Everyday Life and the Ends of Abstraction

Art critic and scholar Lane Relyea’s essay, Photography’s Everyday Life and the Ends of Abstraction talks about the German artist and photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’s abstractions.

My initial response was to ask what kind of abstraction is this, and then to wonder is it a new form of abstraction, or abstraction using different materials? Clement Greenberg discussed abstraction with formalist concerns, and was interested in converting illusionistic space into an optical one. Greenberg thought abstraction was connected to what had gone before and thus wasn’t a major shift in opposition to the representational, but rather on a continuum.
‘the difference was primarily a matter of space rather than the absence of recognizable images, since abstract paintings do not depict the kind of space occupied by our bodies and other things in the world’

(Colpitt p.164)

So could Greenberg accept recognisable space, as long as it was flat? Looking at Tillmans’s abstractions they do depict the same space as our bodies occupy, so maybe then they are aligned more with Theodore Adorno’s theories of social abstraction, who questioned the loss of individuality through mainstream culture
‘the official culture’s pretense of individualism... necessarily increases in proportion to the liquidation of the individual.’

(Foster p. 19)

I think Tillmans’s abstractions are long shot views and thus give the distance and feel of abstraction, they remain open allowing them to bring something forward, the opportunity and possibility to recognise and access them is available to the viewer.

Colpitt, Frances. Abstract Art in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Foster, Hal. Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics. Seattle, Washington: Bay Press, 1985.
Relyea, Lane. "Photography's Everyday Life and the Ends of Abstraction." Wolfgang Tillmans. Ed. Amy Teschner and Kamilah Foreman. Conneticut, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. p. 90 - 141.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Unimaginable Happenings: Material Movements in the Plane of Composition

This essay is from the book Deleuze and Contemporary Art which looks at Deleuzian philosophy through the eyes of artists, art critics and theorists, this particular essay is by Barbara Bolt, an Australian artist and author.

The essay (broken into three parts) looks at the Deleuzian idea of a plane of composition and what that means (for Bolt). Then how the plane of materiality invades the plane of composition, which leads into how an image emerges into a different reality, that of sensation. Bolt believes that this produces something more true to life, that by undoing ‘the image’ you come upon something closer to presence and truth.

I chose this particular essay as an attempt to understand Deleuzian ideas at a more grass roots level and in particular from a painter’s point of view. I think this both helped and hindered my understanding of Deleuze. In particular, what I think is useful is the notion of co- emergence and how this is beautifully described by another artists quote within the text from Matisse;
‘There is an impelling proportion of tones that may lead me to change the shape of a figure or to transform my composition. Until I have achieved this proportion in all the parts of a composition I strive towards it and keep on working. Then a moment comes when all the parts have found their definite relationships, and from then on it would be impossible for me to add a stroke to my picture without having to repaint it entirely.’

Although Bolt is using this passage to show the artist throwing a net over chaos to find balance, it also talks of the process of emergence and helps describe the openness of working, while not knowing what the outcome will be until it is arrived upon and simultaneously risking destruction. Roland Barthes talks about this idea in relation to Cy Twombly’s work;
‘The essence of an object has some relation with its destruction: not necessarily what remains after it has been used up, but what is thrown away as being of no use.’

I think Twombly (like Bolt) tries to show materials in their raw state, as materials alone without the weight of meaning associated with them, the elements being, the scratch, the stain and the energy being thrown into space. The ‘surplus’ of these elements emerges into something just revealing itself, forming into a particular quality unique to that particular set of circumstances. This quality and unique internal rationale is for me why some paintings seem alive and interesting.


Barthes, Roland. The Responsibility of Forms. Trans. Richard Howell. London, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Bolt, Barbara. Unimaginable Happenings: Material Movements in the Plane of Composition. Bolt, Barbara. Deluze and Contemporary Art. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010. p. 266 - 285.

Vibrant Matter; a Political Ecology of Things

Jane Bennett is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at John Hopkins University.

This article from the book Vibrant Matter; a Political Ecology of Things implores us to consider our relationship to our surroundings, and in particular, the matter and stuff that surrounds us. Bennett tries to dislodge the binaries of organic/inorganic, human/animal and life/matter and questions these oppositions and replaces them with the idea that what we have previously considered inert stuff to be in fact as Bruno latour would call ‘co actants’ in the world. That humans and matter are all elements in the world, all with innumerable possibilities, readings and encounters.

Bennett’s idea isn’t new in that Marcel Merleau-Ponty believed:

‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world...and moreover...this flesh of my body is shared by the world.’
Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology charted the element of being in the world of embodied experience, which Bennett also is doing in order for us to see our surroundings in a new way. Bennett’s aim is to draw our attention to sustainability and the environment.

I am interested in this slowing down of vision and experience to the point of ‘being present’ or being in the ‘now’. I think our body, through movement and experience, gives us a grip on such things as nature, survival, seasons and time.

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter; a Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.
Levin, David Michael. The Body's Recollection of Being: Phenomenological Psychology an the Deconstruction of Nihilism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Audio Poverty

Diedrich Diederichsen is a German author, music journalist and cultural critic and currently professor for Theory, Practice and Communication of contemporary art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

The article Audio Poverty is translated from German by James Gussen.

From the beginning Marxist thought is drawn in with the notions of ‘value’ and’ use’ in respect to music and how it is both produced, received and controlled and enjoyed, or not enjoyed to the fullest possibilities. Diederichsen has the idea that music is capable of more than it is currently doing.

Diederichsen suggests the music world is controlled by digital reproduction and the economies that are escorted by the internet, and that because of this a type of liquefaction, a homogenised music results. That music is all but emptied of its original substance or force that evoked it in the first place. He suggests a utopian model for music that isn’t restricted by history but is instead instinctive and present, anchored in reality.

That we are encased in a manmade restrictive structure that prevents a pure experience (in this instance music) isn’t new, in western thought Plato’s Republic proposed a new way of being towards enlightenment, proposing the leaders of society have a fifty year education, so they’d be qualified to construct a suitable structure for this way of being to come into fruition, we are still waiting.
I was interested to discover the Greek origins of the word utopia, it unpacks into eu=good, ou=not and toppos= place, resulting in the double meaning of good place and no place. Confirming that utopia is but a dream, or suggesting that utopia can be found in more than one way, perhaps relating to the Buddhists thought of perfection as state of mind and way of being.

Diederichsen’s idea that music evolves when someone or group revolts against the existing music because it fails to represent for them their experience of living, could be said for all arts. But in the revolt the sound becomes part of the history of sound, and then the history becomes greater than the sound. This idea is expressed by Milan Kundera in the following quote.

“There were long periods when art did not seek out the new but took pride in making repetition beautiful, reinforcing tradition, and ensuring the stability of a collective life; music and dance then existed only in the framework of social rites, of Masses and fairs. Then one day in the twelfth century, a church musician in Paris thought of taking the melody of the Gregorian chant, unchanged for centuries, and adding to it a voice, but the counterpoint.....The counterpoint was a new thing that gave access to other new things....Because they were no longer imitating what was done before, composers lost anonymity, ... their names lit up like lanterns marking a path toward distant realms. Having taken flight, music became, for several centuries, the history of music....In anguish I imagine a time when art shall cease to seek out the never-said and will go docilely back into the service of the collective life...into the uniformity of being.”

The headiness of the talk and the slotting of it into the history overshadow the art as experience.

Diederichsen, Diedrich. "Audio Poverty." e-flux (2010): p. 1-10.
—. "Music—Immateriality—Value." e-flux (2011): p. 1-10.
Kundera, Milan. The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts. Trans. Linda Asher. London, UK: Faber and Faber, 2007.
Wikipedia. "Utopia." 25 April 2011. Wikipedia. 25 April 2011 .