Saturday, 18 June 2011

you cannot not?

Abstract painting is non representational, isn’t it? I remember when I first started to make abstract paintings, over 30 years ago that it seemed all about struggling not to represent. It was like the well known exercise where you sit next to someone and attempt not to communicate. Gregory Bateson used it to show that ‘you cannot not communicate’. There I was attempting not to represent, and everything I put down seemed to represent something. Even with a monochrome canvas, a vertical was a figure and a horizontal was a landscape. Here are, at least, figures on a ground.
Why do I find it pleasing that the pink ground becomes more like figure in the centre? And why was I less pleased when somone pointed out that the pink ground-become-figure can be read as a phallic symbol?

There is also autobiographical content hidden in the form. The scale had to do with my wealth or lack of it. When I had no money, the paintings were small or I painted over existing work. When I couldn't afford studio space, larger paintings were made by joining smaller stretchers together. When the paintings were monochromes what interested me were the subtle differences between virtually identical paintings. This had nothing at all to do with the fact that I am myself an identical twin. This was unrepresented, wasn’t it?


  1. Hi Andy! Thanks for the info on the exhibition show that shares the same name as my blog :) Sweet!
    Very interesting blog and paintings you have.


  2. hi Lim
    thanks for your interest and comment
    I am working on a post about that exhibition,,,