Taking Stock Again
01/04/13Consistency, clarity of thought, a sense of purpose and rigorous theoretical underpinnings. These are not words I would use to describe my art practice. On the contrary, I have always felt terribly inconsistent, unclear, meandering and hesitant in my approach to art making. I look on other artists, those who find their metier in their earliest years, those who hone their skills upon dozens of similar works, each an improvement of and progression from the other, with envy. I have never been able to walk down the same path for very long without being distracted by other possibilities, other ideas.
As a result, I have an ever-present feeling of shallowness, a feeling that the things I do lack seriousness or depth [but why should they have them?]. Again, comparing myself to my peers, I see practitioners working left and right working for days, weeks without a break. Their dedication pays off with huge bodies of work to choose from. In contrast, my output is meagre, a fraction of other artists. But while I fill sketchbook after sketchbook with ideas, very few make it to actual completion. Furthermore, those I do complete are somehow opaque to me. My lack of focus results in works that I struggle to fit into an all-embracing theoretical model. So, inevitably, I give up over-analysing my work, and rely on a combination of intuition, theory and the opinions of the people I trust to help me steer my way through.
With these qualifications in mind, I see however some recurring ideas in my work. I find the notion of space important: human-scale space, such as the space of interiors and everyday objects; architectural space, from the large scale; and cosmic space, the space beyond the imagination, where scale is effectively meaningless.
I also find myself drawn to certain dichotomies as I find them useful starting points for ideas to play with. Some of these include: reality and fiction; the figurative and the abstract; the artisan and the machine-made; simulation and authenticity; the idealistic and the pragmatic; Utopia and Dystopia; the dream of technological perfection and the nightmare of machine domination; and text versus the image.
I may work on something for several years, discard it, then return to it from another direction. In this way much of my work appears, to me at least, to be superficially different but essentially similar. Perhaps this sensation comes from over-familiarity. Nowadays my approach is to consider one category alone. it doesn't matter to me anymore whether my work is "good", just so long as it is interesting.