Rectangular Table Top Paintings 2015 - 2016

(Small Crazed and Collaged Canvases)


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Diversity of practice can be a way to refresh and renew current or past practices and I periodically change, modify and follow new directions in my work to explore these.

Making smaller collages, prints or in this case working with a fixed frame with ‘crazing’ on a smaller scale, is one such new approach. These works offer the same crazed formations found in my larger works but on a more intimate scale. They are the first group of smaller rectangular crazed paintings I have made.

So titled, these Table Top Paintings (T.T.P.) are rectangular works made on a table top. They follow my practice of pouring paint in layers and inducing ‘crazing’. By raising the edges of the canvases, I can pour paint, over pieces of collaged canvas, in layers. The paint is manipulated during drying and then when dry, edited on the wall, a process I developed for working on sections of pre-stretched rectangular canvases when making the extra large, 60 x 48 inch, ‘India Suite Collages’ in 2012.

My approach in these small works produces the same ‘crazing‘ within a fixed frame as opposed to the selecting a composition from a larger lengths of painted canvas, which continues to be my practice for larger shaped canvases. This seemingly opposite of approach of working in a fixed frame, as opposed to a more open ended length of canvas, offers a new set of possibilities for composing. Working within a frame also results in the ‘crazing’ having a more pronounced relationship with the edges of the painting. I employ elliptical motifs of pieces of tightly rolled canvas collage and paint skins as compositional devices, which I place on the surface to accentuate the illusion of space. The ellipse or arabesque is a shape was favored by Matisse, and derived from his work from the figure and influenced by his stay in Morocco. The arabesque as the shape rises and falls, always returning to its starting point and offers an ease of composition as a motif. By the use of the ellipse the composed random of the crazing, and the coloured under-painting and pouring of the colours and shading, I am able to explore illusionistic depth as might be found in representational painting, while keeping the frontal allover presence of abstraction intact.

Illusionistic depth created by shading and modeling is closely tied to representational art, offers me new possibilities for abstraction. At the beginning of the 20th Century artists like Matisse moved away from shading and illusion and compressed or flattened the space in their paintings. The flat characteristic pioneered by Matisse was advanced by the painters of the New York School, and the Colour Field Painters and was extended into dimensional painting by the New New Painters, with whom I have exhibited extensively throughout North America and Europe. The spatial practice of flattening the picture plane has been the focus of much, if not all, major abstraction in the last century. I am finding my way back, as it were, to working with illusionistic space while embracing the freedom offered me by abstraction. The imagery and associations of the ellipse or arabesque with the figure, plant forms to name a few, and the connection of the ‘crazing’ with the earths surface and the shaping of the canvas, all give figurative and symbolic character to my work. I cultivate and embrace these as continuing motifs for my paintings character and compositions.

These paintings have so far been made in four sizes 27” x 20”, 20" x 16", 16” x 12” and Miniatures 8" x 6", and are available with various framing options.

These T.T.P. paintings are representative of the illusionistic focus of my current larger paintings in which I continue to explore outer shaping as a compositional element in my work.