Senior Lecturer - Visual Arts / Painting
I emigrated from Australia in 1974, have been working in New Zealand as an established painter, with a wide exhibition history, represented in public and private collections.
Research made in two minds, meaningful acts of introversion:
My practical and intellectual research driver is the philosophical discipline of phenomenology, through the reading of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and more contemporary American thinkers. Phenomenology challenges normative accounts of the human relationship to a world. My reading of Merleau-Ponty’s The Intertwining–The Chiasm (1968 trans), recalibrates for me the ontological scene of the studio, or the studio as ontological scene.
Phenomenology raises implications for painting practice: a changed perspective on the role of the painter as bodied human agent in the working studio, a setting for the transformation of materials in the revealing of bodied form (poiesis). Phenomenology reverses instrumental perceptions of what a painter does, causes me to rethink the relations between working and work, in acausal ways.
In this model the painter is no longer the genius instigator of aesthetic products in the Romantic/Modernist sense, seeking self expression; rather (as I interpret and enact practice as phenomenology), the human factor proposing concepts, themes, ideas, and images as ‘found’ aspects that have arrived to cohabit with the material occurrences of the studio, that constitute studio as theatre and place of embodiment.
Studio as a space that is continually (re)constituted by the material-image events in it. The same is argued of the painter, reconstituting self as a subject drawn into various material conspiracies. The work as finite thing becomes something of a by-product, and index of the activities that ‘caused’ it. I investigate the possibilities of this as analogy for human/world relations at large.
In a way that is difficult to fathom, this involves my wandering, like many contemporary painters, around the “borderline between abstraction and images; (a) contested and highly porous boundary (that) is in itself an object of fascination… as if the potential for transition had become more urgent than identification with a fixed position” (Schwabsky, 2011). Baby and bathwater recomposed.
In the face of the above philosophical high mindedness, certain preoccupations (like the erotic thoughts of a saint) circulate and enter the work as welcome/unwelcome narratives: corportised landscapes; suburbia as gothic haven-trap surrounded by ‘wild’; skewed historical accounts with artist as protagonist; the artist study as promissory note for a work never-to-be-made; banal objects as analogies for…; explorations of another borderline between inner and outer. These are not really themes, more like infections, painting the host.
There is, most importantly in this inward focus, an ethical averting of the artistic gaze away from the ‘art world’ (the industry at (as) the goal of the neo-liberal economies of education and everything else as factory for the production of..) back toward the strange laboratory experiment that is painting, and by analogy, life.
That is the research. Not to be confused with the framed, titled and packaged by-products of the studio and whatever ‘meanings’ and ‘contexts’ may be imagined to adhere to them, that enter the less-than-ethical art-world as cultural produ-facts (back two paragraphs above).
In that perspective, I characterise painting as something produced in order to be able to discuss it in a way that we are unable to discuss other objects, and spend accordingly. To generate ingenious, byzantine vocabularies for those contexts and meanings.
Another level of research investigates what the relationship between those two perspectives may be, what language can do justice in accounting for the contradictions between a studio bound poiesis and spectacle-market, that both thematises and stigmatises the art of our time.
Study After Theodore Gericault, acrylic pencil and charcoal on canvas, 1370mm x 1670mm, 2018
Study After The Drone Survival Guide, acrylic and pencil on canvas, 1670mm x 1980mm, 2018