Figure Paintings, 2013
In 2013, I returned to making figure paintings after a long hiatus mostly spent writing crime novels. In these pictures, I combined acrylic paint, and occasionally oil colour, with transfer prints.
I was inspired to make these paintings following a number of trips that I made abroad during the previous 5 years.
For example, in Breakfast in Marrakech I attempted to capture the sense of colour and the strongly contrasting shadows I found in Morocco.
What You See Is What You Get combines Roman ruins in Taormina and Etna’s beauty. This painting also joins day with night.
It also focuses on a modern desire to view everything through a digital medium.
As I have written elsewhere, Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe influenced Legacy.
In this painting, a group of young people enjoy a lunch break. Some are using their phones. None of them speak to each other. Meanwhile in the background, a block of flats undergoes demolition.
I found the demolition site in Vienna, the youngsters in Green Park, London, and the rest of the backdrop in Stratford, East London.
These pictures also illustrate how I employed photography and digital editing to arrive at a composition, a process similar to making collages.
I also used transfer prints, a process that allowed me to quickly produce an image. In truth, after such a long lay-off from making pictures, I was in a hurry to create as many images as possible.
I employed this technique in 1985, shortly after leaving art school. In other words before computers were readily available, but I was unable to achieve a satisfactory result (see below) .
Now, by using gesso and PVA, together with a laser printed image on cheap copy paper, I was able to successfully transfer the image onto a MDF panel.
Invariably the image changed once painting began. Either I obliterated part of it, or else added to it. Consequently the end result rarely matched the initial digital image.
I still occasionally use this method, although sparingly as in Pictures at an Exhibition, preferring to paint everything with brushes. However this method proved to be more than useful as it helped me return to painting, and in particular engage with the human figure.