Thursday, 1 November 2018

It's been a long time... More revolutionary portraits and other stuff

It's been a long time since I've updated the blog. Lots of stuff has happened since then, and I have done lots of work of different types, quality etcetera. I have managed to keep my main website at up to date so for missing artworks take a look there! Mainly I have continued with my portrait series of revolutionaries. Here are some them:

This is Franz Fanon. A very interesting man. He was born in Martinique and was therefore French. He trained as a doctor became a psychiatrist, and is noted for his writing on philosophy, politics and race. And of course as a revolutionary and a Marxist. He swapped sides in the Algerian War of Independence and became a member of the Algerian Liberation Front. He worked on the front line of the war supporting wounded and traumatised Algerians. His written work became hugely influential, particularly his analysis of the effects of colonialism black people. It's very hard to simplify his life down to one paragraph, but here's a quote from leading African scholar and philosopher Lewis R. Gordon: "Fanon's contributions to the history of ideas are manifold. He is influential not only because of the originality of his thought but also because of the astuteness of his criticisms. He developed a profound social existential analysis of antiblack racism, which led him to identify conditions of skewed rationality and reason in contemporary discourses on the human being"

This is Giuseppe Garibaldi, 19th century revolutionary, mainly known for his influential involvement in the unification of Italy, but also because of his revolutionary activities in South America and France. He was born in Nice (then part of Piedmont) in 1807. He worked as a merchant seaman, and as a young man joined the then illegal "Young Italy" movement founded by another Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. After being condemned to death for his anti-Austrian revolutionary activities, Garibaldi spent many years in exile supporting revolutions across the Atlantic, always looking, however to return home and fight for the unification of Italy.  He loathed the dominance of the Catholic church and what he saw as its misuse of power in Italy and in other latin countries. He famously wrote "God didn't create man, man created god". His ideas for his time were revolutionary, and he supported always increased rights for ordinary people.

Emiliano Zapata Salazar 8 August 1879 – 10 April 1919) was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, the main leader of the peasant revolution in the state of Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapatismo. He fought for the freedom of ordinary Mexican people from the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, which had last for 35 years, and caused immense poverty for agrarian workers. He fought all his life for land reforms that would give ordinary people control over their land and lives, and whilst he succeeded in getting these reforms implemented in Morelos, Mexico deteriorated into a series of battles, wars and disputes. Series of governments refused to issue reforms that revolutionaries had fought for, and Zapata viewed that a number of his contemporaries sold out, so he had little option but to keep fighting. Government forces killed Zapata eventually by tricking him to come to a meeting, and then gunning him down.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

And more political portraiture

I have continued with the portraiture. I commission which I won't publish yet, and a couple of others: Huey Newton and Emma Goldman. Emma Goldman was an interesting woman. She left Russia (actually now Lithuania) as a teenager in 1885. Many Jews did at that time, including my great grandparents, escaping anti-Semitism. It wasn't a safe place to be a Jew at the time. She ended up in America and became a famous anarchist and activist, fighting for the rights of women, and the rights of workers. She was jailed numerous times in the US and was eventually exiled to Russia in 1917, where she for a while embraced the revolution, but ultimately condemned the bolshevik state for its dictatorship of the proletariat, as other anarchists did.
Emma Goldman
Oil on Canvas 35x24cm
Huey Newton was one of the founders of the Black Panthers in the 1960s in the USA, alongside Bobby Seale. Despite getting regularly into trouble as a teenager, Newton was extremely well-read, intelligent and qualified. There is so much written about his life and about the Black Panthers I can't hope to put anything useful in writing here. It's impossible to write about everything Newton and Goldman did and said, but it's worth anyone's time doing the research. Both advocated the use of violence on occasion to attempt to achieve their aims. Given the oppression of black people, of women, of discrimination and of persecution that they both suffered, it is not a surprise, nor easy to condemn.

Jeez this is possibly the most illiterate entry I've ever written on this blog! Just look at the pictures and forgive my inadequacies...
Huey P Newton
Oil on canvas 60x60cm 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Anarchist portraits

I've completed a couple more portraits. One of William Godwin who was very interesting in many ways. He was influenced by both Bakunin and Proudhon and amongst other things was father of Mary Shelley - author of "Frankenstein". There's a lot more to him than that but you can look that up. The other is of Rosa Luxemburg, another interesting anarchist-communist. She disapproved of what became of Soviet Russia and she also was influenced by Bakunin. The point of these early anarchist/anarcho-syndicalists was that they believed that better communities would be built if each community or workplace was self-governed, not ruled by the state. Bakunin argued that a dictatorship of the proletariat was still a dictatorship...

These ideas could not not be more opposite to the "individual" anarchists in the USA, many of whom support Trump. These right-wing anarchists (as they style themselves) believe in individual "self-rule" with no responsibility to society or their communities - or anyone else. They are nasty fuckwits who have perverted a philosophy for their own ends.

William Godwin, Oil on canvas

Rosa Luxemburg
Oil on Canvas 60x60cm
I've also been doing some portrait drawings. Here's one: Spanish anarcho-syndicalyst and anti-fascist  fighter, Juan Garcia Oliver:

Juan Garcia Oliver
Ink on paper

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Portraits and politics. And history.

I have been continuing with my portraiture. I find it relaxing and I use it to research things that interest me. For example the paintings below. The first is of Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary general, who led successful battles against reactionary forces, who were (of course) supported by the USA. Villa's army was not ultimately successful, and he was assassinated in 1920.

Throughout the 20th century (and beyond) the USA increasingly used its growing power and influence to undermine democratically elected governments of South American countries, whose politics the USA felt (and feels) is/was undermining of US capitalism. The role of the US in these acts of oppression throughout the American continent ( and elsewhere) - it's extraordinary what sort of anti-democratic acts America has got away with - and continues to - whilst it defends the (ahem) "Free World"

Pancho Villa 
The second portrait is of Earl Browder, the former leader of the US Communist Party. These days the whole concept of a thriving Communist, Socialist, Anarchist movement in the USA seems so unlikely and so against contemporary mainstream thought, because people like Browder, and others were suppressed, repressed and persecuted. The reference for the painting is a photo when a young Browder was jailed as a conscientious objector during the first world war.
Earl Browder

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

More portraiture, me and Sacco and Vanzetti

I am continuing with portraiture, with varying degrees of success. Unposted is a portrait of my wife, which (despite many days' work) I just can't get right. I seem to have a greater problem with painting women than men, and I am sure someone will give me a good Freudian reason for this. So instead here's a self portrait, which I'm quite pleased with, and a portrait of Sacco and Vanzetti - two innocent anarchists who were executed in the USA for crimes they didn't commit. See  for a decent bit of history and background. Poor guys,

Self Portrait
Oil on Canvas 64x56cm

Sacco and Vanzetti
Oil on Canvas 60x60cm

Sunday, 9 July 2017


After my fun and games with Simon Bolivar, I have followed it up with three more traditional portraits, copies of paintings that give me the opportunity to experiment with oils further, and with various methods and surfaces. I am still following my revolutionary theme however and below are three portraits, of Thomas Paine - great American-British-French thinker, philosopher and revolutionary - oil on wood, Anacharsis Snoot - another revolutionary in France - oil on clay board, and finally Joseph Proudhon (based on a Courbet portrait) great thinker, anarchist and revolutionary.  Oil on canvas, but much bigger. It's inspiring living in a country with a long history of revolutions. And inspiring personalities, be they French, British, American or Dutch.

33x41cm, oil on wood

Anarchasis Snoot
15x15cm, oil on clayboard

76x60cm oil on canvas

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Simon Bolivar, Hearts and the problem with Blogger

I have been doing both abstract and figurative work recently. I felt in the need to undertake a copying exercise - I think a useful training thing. So here's a painting, in oils, I have done of Simon Bolivar, the great South American revolutionary. It's interpretive copy of a painting of Bolivar by someone I cannot find out who! There are lots of paintings of Bolivar, including numerous versions based on the same image. Confusing.. Anyway, here's mine:

Simon Bolivar
Oil on Canvas 22x33cm
I have also been working on a series of abstract heart paintings. I am often inspired by death and dark things. But I felt I wanted to do something more positive, and produced one for my wife . Following that I have done some more. I am pleased that she likes hers best.

Finally, I am frustrated by Blogger making it so hard to update from an iPad. Like many people I use my tablet and phone for internet stuff more than 90% of the time: but I can't update my Blog, and, to be fair, neither can I update my website, except from my PC. This all seems a bit out of date. I am thinking of changing everything to WordPress or Wix or something, but it's a bit painful...