Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In Heat

As I wait for the last of the summer heat and humidity to subside and my studio to dry out a little more, I've been keeping busy with a number of other projects.
A few months ago, I began a conversation with Robert Littlewood, the founder of Lytlewode Press, a small, specialist publisher of limited edition artist's books and prints, about adapting one of my longer blog entries, 100 Things You Still Don't Know About Me, posted in four parts in August, last year, as well as a series of small erotic drawings, The Flesh Eaters, as books. More recently, we've been exploring a series of screen-prints based on my enamel on canvas, Big Pin-Ups.
I have also been having conversations with other publishers, in North America and Australia, to whom I've proposed writing an biography of one of my recent portrait subjects – derived from the entertaining monologues with which he kept himself (and, too often, me) distracted during his several sittings for me – and redacting the more personal posts from this blog to create an autobiographical daybook, illustrated with sketches and photographs.
I'm re-educating myself as a photographer. I have written often about how I have used the medium as a tool in my drawing and painting but with a little time on my hands, I've immersed myself in it, photographing myself and others with an obsessiveness that has ended up with several hundred, perhaps thousands, of high resolution RAW files loaded into portable hard-drives, waiting to be 'processed'.
I'm still not a fan of 'art photography' – the photography I like most is documentary, visceral and unretouched: the grainy, early 35mm black and whites of Robert Frank or Larry Clark, or the enhanced colour dyes of William Eggleston's discomfortingly glib still lives – but the medium goads me to take risks and abandon self-restraint in a way that drawing doesn't. Its immediacy strips away my instinct to censor myself.
New and not-so-recent images of models I've worked with, the sex I've had with some of them, and of me at work in various studios are being posted daily, in no particular order, on my new Tumblr presence, if only because I think they underscore an intimate, confessional narrative that runs through my art. I like their randomness; they're like frames 'grabbed' from a movie of another, more secret life.
Some snarkers, including a couple of female artists who should know better, have accused me of using the sometimes lurid perversity of these images to objectify myself, to generate notoriety, to attract more attention to my art and myself, but they're just wading in the shallow end of the altogether murkier, more complex pool from which these images have emerged.
I still write and draw. Loose leaves of paper, covered in blotted scrawls and scratchy, ill-formed lines, spill from my desk onto the floor. I'm not sure what will come of it all – at times, the volume and disparate-ness of everything I'm working on overwhelm and I feel like I'm losing my grip – but I savour the sugar-like rush of inspiration. I want more.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

I never understand why some women when faced with a woman who's not pretending to some kind of purity say things like that.

I have had women say similar things to me about things I've written and about my short lived self portrait project. I find it infuriating and so limiting. I've yet to actually have anyone engage me in anything other than a shaming way about it. It's unfortunate.