Monday, 25 July 2011

Triptych: a new painting - and some art history too!

I have been working on this triptych for the past week or so. The idea has been something in my head for a while. I produced a triptych last year with the title: "There is colour there is light there is no god but that's alright" - mainly because I liked the idea of a triptych, but was uncomfortable with the religious history in regard to triptychs. I know there are non-religious triptychs, but there is no escaping that is their history.
As an atheist, I have no interest in portraying religious imagery - and yet I would be an idiot to deny the importance of religious imagery in art. In fact, some of my favourite paintings have religious inspiration - or at least, subject matter - as that's what the artist was paid to paint. For example I love Bellini's triptych in the Frari in Venice, and Duccio's in the National Gallery in London.

And then there's Francis Bacon: the modern master of the triptych. Without question Bacon was influenced by his early religious upbringing, but as he grew up and older, his subject matter reflected more and more his life, his sexuality and his dependence on alcohol.

So what does this triptych say about me? I'm struggling with a title, but the painting (like some others I have done recently) is about the different roles you/I/one carry/carries out. Father, son, husband, artist, boss, client, patient, leader, follower, aggressor, victim... etc. Different but the same. For a little while the picture involved different hats, literally, but that got painted over, as did obvious references to age. So I think the title is "Identities". How does that sound and fit?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Back to reality

New painting: "Lose Yourself".

Smaller than recent canvasses, only 33x55 cm. This is 10M. Now that will mean nothing to most of you, and didn't mean anything to me until I started painting in France. In France there is a specific scale of sizes along traditional lines - four different scales: Square (carré), Figure (F), Landscape (L) and Marine (M). So this is a 'Marine' size, number 10. Obviously I am breaking all the rules by firstly painting with an M on its side, and secondly having no marine connection in this painting at all. How outrageous. The French have an unexpected attitude towards art, particularly anything 'modern' (see my unpublished 3,000 word essay). At school, the French are taught 'art plastique' which turns out to have nothing to do with plastic (confusing language) but just means 'visual art', and have a very classical education. Mind you I did too - I spent many hours doing pencil drawings of life models. Which I guess explains why I like to do abstracts now. What does this painting mean? Just look at it and... lose yourself.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

...and now the "men in café" T shirt

Here you go - click on the T shirt picture to go to MySoti where you can waste your hard-earned cash on a wonderful T shirt.
Men in Café 2 tee by MatellesArt. Available from

Monday, 11 July 2011


So this is what I ended up with. One of the characters gone completely and a painting clearly influenced by the combined might of Matisse, Tintin, Rolf Harris and Frankie goes to Hollywood. Well "it is what it is" as some people might say. Not me.

Friday, 8 July 2011


So here's my newest things: both the same size, 100x100cm, but not a lot else in common. First a painting following on in the abstract drippy style I have been using recently. This one is called "Life During Wartime" - after the Talking Heads song - "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco".

The second is work in progress. We had a nice visit (as we like to do regularly) to Ganges market this morning. As I often do i started sketching the stalls and the people around me. No musicians today, but as usual some interesting Cevenol faces. I see people who could be characters in Tintin books. And others who could be in the Fast Show. So I decided I would like to turn a couple of sketches into a composition. And so this is how it has started out.

Part of me wants to leave it like this. But that's why I have photographed it, so I don't lose the drawing - I like its freshness. A bugger to photograph because of the thin lines on white background, so have played with photoshop to make it right. The lines are a bit thicker than the original so that they can be easily seen.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Phi and The Return of the Zambian Prince

Two new paintings: First an exploration of the use of symbols and shapes within an abstract painting with references to other things, adding to the whole with layers and colours, textures and symbols. Following deliberately on from previous paintings, using similar techniques. interestingly (or not) i think these paintings look like they take five minutes: they in fact take a longer time than many other paintings I have done because of the layers of textures and paints. Whilst waiting for things to dry, I used an old framed print of my late aunt Huldah's to make another painting, using similar techniques, with less textures/layers onto a sprayed piece of card. In honour of the Return of the Zambian Prince to South Wales.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Coffee grounds (and tabasco)

I guess the title comes from a couple of things. This is a new abstract painting, and while painting I have been involved in an online debate about abstract art at L'Herault Art. In the latest article on the blog Gatsby reported on an argument with a friend on the merits or otherwise of abstract art. I felt moved to respond, and ranted onto my computer for 3000 words. When I'd just about finished I realised that what I'd written was a 3,000 word essay on "Modernism", so edited all the art college crap out and sent Gatsby a 1,000 word response, which he kindly published, here.

And in the meantime, here's the painting. Oh, and it really does contain some coffee grounds. Used ones though, I'm not mad, you know!