Landscape Paintings

Architecture and Social Comentry
1999 - 2009

In this continuing series of four paintings, I am working on a documentary and critique of class and social economy. The body of work comments on the irony of the income scale structure that predetermines the habitation of our failed utopias. To compound this further the work demonstrates the pervasive infrastructure that is a persistent reminder of the inescapable dependency from the system we are assimilated into.

Smiths and the Jones

Date:2009
Material:Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 8ft by 8ft
It is apparent this painting is of two halves and that there is a dichotomy between the working class and lower-middle-class who in effect are alluding to middle class-ness. The house on the left demonstrates the aspirational, with an expendable income for house improvements which increase its property value. Whereas the house on the right is the contrary, showing signs of decline either by neglect and impoverishment.

The irony is that they are inextricably tied by the very fabric of the building. Optimism shines over the aspirants and a foreboding storm over the other. An attitude of guarded privacy resides with one and nakedness with the other. Cooling towers are a distant eye saw and are a reminder these houses were constructed for local workers to service the infrastructure. We can also expect by this that maybe white collar is living next to blue-collar.

Detail of clouds and roof tops of the painting 'Smiths And Jones'.

Road sidE

Date:2009
Material:Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 8ft by 8ft
This painting is shortlisted for the prestigious Threadneedle prize 2010. A getaway journey by car offers a fleeting moment of another failed utopia.A cottage conjures its self up as a romantic symbol of a bygone age only to relapse into a modular new build that it is. With a faux Tudor façade, it could be a delight to a Bankers specification.

This is a second home purchase that is certainly fallen short of the ideal. Merely it is perhaps a practical decision of commutability and affordability? The topology intends to represent a low lying agricultural area, possibly an estuary on the fringes of heavy industry, it offers a false rest bite for the commuter.

The waterworks suggests a release of invasive odours into the air which already seems contaminated by languid atmospheric dust. The landscape is dissected by the thoroughfare of road, rail and air; nothing in this environment is left to its natural order.

Every portion and aspect of the landscape is managed and unitised by man's intervention into a self-interested support system. Rural escapism becomes a paradox and the obstructing road barrier is instrumental for this metaphor by limiting access into the picture plane.
This landscape attempts the pursuit of the picturesque with irony. This painting does not depict a real place at all and it is completely imaginary.  It has developed out of the virtual realm and is by far the most synthesized in the series. The all the elements in the entire scene have been modelled from references only found on the internet.

These are simulated objects taken from 3D sources and pictures and re- represented after many revisions to assemble the perfect composition. This scene is a reminder of Julian Opie's work, 'imagine it is raining', 1992.

This association is recognisable with the group of sculptures based on housing units which define the concept of modularisation. With its ageless fetishistic surfaces of these generic objects a terrifying monotony develops. The painting pushes us to fear the manufactured world

Two Point Four

Date:1999 - 2009
Material:Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 8ft by 8ft

Two Point Four is the national statistical average for the number of children that a typical family would raise in the UK that figure has somewhat changed recently but was applicable in the nineties. This image pokes fun at this demographic number and exemplifies it by the repetition of its themes. T

his type of dwelling unit for a typical family is specifically constructed on large estates for the housing of first-time buyers acquiring affordable property. With its bland uniformity of minimal design and highly reduced lawns and driveways, it is imaginable that it could bifurcate into cul-de-sacs infinitely in similar patterns to the bronchioles of the lungs stretching out in massive swathes across brown belt areas of England.

The air is alive with the crackle of EMF resonating off the pylons and as much again is being received in different frequencies by satellite dishes, radio and television aerials exasperating the fear of inducing leukaemia. It's a neurotic hell for the working class lot.

Detail of the car from painting 'Two Point Four'.

Detail of  the roof top and pylons from the painting 'Two Point Four "

Spice Cottage

Date:2012
Material:Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 8ft by 8ft

This landscape depicts the East End of London representing the lowest end of the social income scale and is a locality of which the majority is surviving off welfare or otherwise on a very low income. The title of this painting, 'Spice Cottage' suggests that it may be a Halal fast food outlet, the usage of the shop has changed over time.  Also, it marks a cultural shift that has taken place Britishness has become Asian.

The  Victorian building implies that it serves two trades, at ground level the shop dispenses fast food and the top red window conspicuously offers one of vice. Both of these trades offer flesh to the local impoverished migrant community. An ad hoc vista has assimilated remorselessly around the main subject matter of the painting. This is the brutal post-war redevelopment that reshaped the devastated East End. A modern office block butts tightly up against the shop.

Tower blocks rise ominously further behind the scene. A flyover intrudes from above that cuts up the city and communities with its badly thought out town planning. This picture clearly shows the rapid demise of the last expansion and social housing plans in the '50s and '60s.

Detail of the tower block from the painting 'Spice Cottage'.

Detail of the shop from the paintng 'Spice Cottage'.

Habitation and Social Economy

I will attempt to rationalise the series of paintings that I am embarking on, some are complete and some are yet to be painted. I will give an overall explanation on the context and meaning but also align these paintings to photo-realism and its concurrency to hyperrealism but also how it departs from the latter. I will also rationalise my psychological impulse for creating these paintings and explain to a certain extent the methodology of production.

These five paintings I am working on are a documentary and critique of class and social economy. The paintings are laden with suggestions to industry and infrastructure, they also point to the domicile.

The body of work comments on the irony of the income scale structure that predetermines the habitation of our failed utopias. This series has similar notions to Daniel Defoe's book, 'A tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain'. This was a survey of industrial England during the period of 1724 to 1726. Patrick Keiller re-enacts this book in his 1997 film 'Robinson in Space' 1997.

The work demonstrates the pervasive infrastructure that is a persistent reminder of the inescapable dependency of the system we assimilate into.This approach of documentary-style painting as one would assume seems to follow the same intentions as the photo-realists.

This is not the case as this group did not pursue the agenda and was only implied by uninformed critics. However, it was the purpose of the photo-realists to depict the immediate social landscape and recreate it explicitly. These paintings follow this concept but with an added attribute of conscious anthropology and the intention with these paintings it to produce procedural bracketing of property value and social-economic class.
The work also attempts to parallel the photo-realists in another way by accurately depicting its source material, as in the case with the photo-realists all forms of printed media were accessible to them as with the advent of digital media is accessible to us today.

David Hockney is who one of the progenitors of photo-realism is exemplifying a move into a new era of digitalisation by producing images using his I-Phone. His attempts have resulted in more of a painterly style than one would expect from the use of technology. The resulting prints are more organic than previous works such as the Splash painting 1967; Acrylic on canvas, which is more pertinent to a rectilinear vector-based style of digital graphics.

Back then in the 1960s with an increasing interest into photography and his move into acrylics, he discovered the relationship of the interlocking surface of colours by reducing his painterly approach to merely smooth flat areas. For Hockney, this was an achievement as he created a style without style, one that had anonymity of surface.

The surface quality of these paintings distinguishes into two ways, the homogeneity of object surfaces within the picture plane and the unified skin or film that is the entire surface of the painting.  The object surfaces in my paintings are similar to Hockney's acrylic paintings but the reference for imitation is different. The references I use is the digital realm and particularly vector and low polygon count modelling systems. .

Reductionism

Reductionism in the painting has flat areas of colour with some shapes containing gradations that interlock with precise edges. All these shapes create illusionist planes, distances and objects with an undifferentiated surface. The skin refers to the glassiness of VDU and Plasmas Screens that are unmistakably flat and precise. The palette also parallels the screen with its vibrant saturations punched up the to last acceptable level. The palette is also within the range of what a screen is capable of producing based on RBG gamuts.

The relationship between a flattened surface and illusionist depth is continually oscillatory and depending on the relative distance of the viewer. The perception of space rapidly disintegrates on close inspection. On the other hand, these paintings have been produced on a large scale specifically for the gallery space, allowing the viewer at an appreciable distance to take the stage and enter the picture plane and regain reality.

In spite of the fact these paintings appear digital, they still allude to a certain extent to large format photography with its perspective having parallel verticality, the squared proportions referencing Polaroid's. 
This photographic quality asserts a link back to photo-realism and is a reminder of the ambiguous and contradictory relationship to the indexical. While photography represents the temporal, a slice of time, a painting of a scene has no relevance to time and is not a captured past but an unfolding present. But with a painting of a photograph in essence short circuits the indexical status of its source.

This excerpt refers to The Painting of Modern Life, Ralph Rugoff, and p14 pp2. The digital realm has even more ambiguities by offering any point in time. Therefore the image derived from this space is still an index but at least a selectable and even a reversible one, but this is not like film or video either, that are a sequence of indexes it is more than that.

It is truly fourth dimensional where any pocket of time can be intercepted and manipulated, forms can also be observed from multiple views at will, forms themselves can change infinitely. But it must be noted that this takes place only in the working stage of the painting, it is eventually fixed like a photograph when it truly manifests as a painting.

Utopia

It is also very important to state that these images only simulate reality and they are actually a work of fiction and made to appear familiar and candid. This photographic quality is one element of the trickery and the banality is another. The progressive narrative from photorealism to virtual realism is bridged by hyperrealism, which in essence these paintings are. The methodology practised here allows for a certain amount of manipulation thus creating a new reality and not just a faithful rendering of a photograph.

The intention with this series of paintings is to go further than hyperrealism and thus create a new definition 'virtual realism', which is still a coherent oxymoron and can be explained as a digital virtual landscape or a re-simulated reality that Umberto Eco discusses in his book Simulation Of Hyperrealism. The painting "Road Side" exemplifies this succinctly as it was purely digital in its origins. Lets us not forgot the ordinariness of the subject matter but it is the virtual aspect that glosses over the neurosis and attempts to make the banal more palatable yet it vacillates disconcertingly between these two values never holding onto one indefinitely.
What is the impulse to create these paintings? There is uncanny anxiety caused by the observation of the incongruous entropic order systems that modern society has developed. Visually the modern world appears utterly bland with low aesthetic and high function concepts that society is ordered serve for production and profit purposes. The neurotic impulse tries to sublimate these appearances and to transcend it. By smoothing out the details of reality by eliminating roughness and texture, it has become more palatable.

Theorised by Edmund Burke, he wrote about smoothness in his book. This is titled 'A philosophical Enquiry Into The Origin Of Our Ideas Of The Sublime And Beautiful', p143. A sense of light and atmospheric moment suffuses a rarefying effect onto these mundane scenes stimulating emotive sensibilities. This rendering temporarily holds back a nervous condition to some extent but is no cure. Humour is also a way out of the melancholic situation by finding the ironies in the failings and idiosyncrasies of everyday environments and situations.

Ralph Rugoff states in the book The Painting of Modern Life, p12 pp5. While referring to the photorealist painters he said, "This artist regarded the banal as far from being trivial... Banality is a potentially rich and revealing vein of anthropological data". The contrived is invented extremely economically and it invokes memories of places and social values that penetrate face value of representation. Trivial symbols unfold with loaded meaning with every aspect of these canvases are readable.

A sketch idea of the fifth in the series of paintings, aptly named 'Utopia.
In terms of production, these paintings are purely derivative of a digital environment and made to imitate it. A final image  translates onto canvas and is a total facsimile of the master print. By painstaking technical means, the painting comes to life from a single image and a single slide that is used to outline the composition and structure.

The final image would have undergone a myriad of revisions and manipulations before completion. The screen with its accompanying software acts as primary canvas or sketchbook. These images are composed of multiple sources, original photography, digital photography, from the Internet and CAD models. Some material is directly incorporated and in other cases just referenced.
With some images such as "Road Side" the composition was entirely modelled with references all originating from the Internet. No distinction is made on the source material other than to serve a purpose. What is interesting is that in cyberspace there are a plethora of images and objects to be plucked from an almost infinite repository that is instantly accessible and re-usable. And unlike the printed photograph that is utterly fixed the digital image or model can be held in a transient state that can be manipulated and re- manipulated until perfected in essence still plastic and perpetually residing in a formative dimension.

Photography in its self has been changed by this phenomenon and can be regarded no image can ever be candid anymore and much akin the to the intention of these paintings.
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