Cutting away as addition

The second of my large-ish (80 x 100 cm) unsatisfactory canvases started as an acrylic ‘cartoon’ of a tobacco flower in a jungle setting. This was before I thought I might be any sort of artist – a hobbyist’s daubing, juvenilia. It was overpainted twice in oils, the second time with collage elements added. By now my paint-handling had developed (so much time spent staring at Frank Auerbach portraits) but the underlying composition ham-strung the new piece. However, there were pleasing elements of expressive abstraction – value in places, not in the whole. So, a Stanley knife, 21 card mounts and a selective eye were deployed. The end result is 21 Wholes – a series of small rectangles in various combinations of acrylics, oils and collage, and the multiply perforated relict canvas that seems more cohesive that it ever did when uncut. The remainder is a field or substrate where my selections grew. Together all the material forms a single work. Interestingly, all cuts had their sides parallel to the ‘parent’ canvas – I tried angled selections, but none looked right – if nothing else, the initial composition had a clear sense of orientation. I/it knew which way was up.

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