I’d like to share with everyone the work of one of my drawing 1 students – Joe Clark. He is a capable student and very motivated. We are having some interesting discussions because when he first came onto the course his work seemed to have an aesthetic which was born out of advertising or graphic novels. I asked him to look at Peter Blake’s self-portrait which looks very pop art but when you are actually standing next to it, is dripping with painterly sensitivities and asked him to reflect on how that painting holds together and why. There are so many great artists he could look at – one of my personal favourites is Richard Prince who uses advertising photography and book jackets in his work.
Joe is just starting out, but through his work he is already beginning to make important points about what art is or can be. There is no need to make these kinds of decisions in a vacuum. The work will ‘talk’ back to you to an extent for one thing. Your tutor of course will be there to chip in at the end of each assignment with pointers for further study. It is also vital that you go out into the world and find out what has been said or is being said about the ideas your work is raising. Find artists who are working on similar themes and coming to different conclusions and find artists whose work you like and find out what motivates them.
I am interested to see in Joe’s work that there is a kind of ‘graphicky slickness’ which could be developed, but when he is absorbed in a visual detail he works unselfconsciously and the colours and texture start to buzz about on the page more unexpectedly which could also be developed. It’s Joe’s call and I am intrigued to see what he makes of it.
In his learning log he also attached a photo he took of a local house which I found very exciting. It was a repossessed house with boarded up windows and a pile of discarded plastic toys on the unkempt front lawn. I liked this image for lots of reasons. Firstly I liked the fact that Joe had taken it at all. This shows that he is out in the world thinking like an artist, being visually aware and being organised enough to be able to take a photo or make a sketch when something occurs to him. The image was very powerful, a good image for our recession laden times, but it also seemed to resonate with the themes that are emerging in Joe’s practice. Here was the super bright Disney style exuberance of the plastic creatures, tossed in a pile while the texture of reality changed their context dramatically. Of course this is me reading into the photograph and it is what Joe makes of it in his log and how he synthesizes the experience of making it into his wider practice that will count.
The images here are well worth expanding as they are chock full of wee details. This is just some of the fruits of one assignment, Joe always works incredibly hard and produces a lot of highly worked pieces. His attitude to his studentship is exemplary and as he engages more with his contextual study and gains confidence in his own creativity I am sure he will go from strength to strength.