I pulled a painting out to trash/ and was surprised to find it pleased./ Not for the for the first time, I had the wish/ that paintings could be stored on micro-fiche.
I have been preparing for my first solo show of paintings since 2002. Entitled In the City, it opens on 25th May and runs until 7th June and is to be in the Coburg House Gallery, Leith. It is a fine space that eschews the gift shop atmosphere that infects so many private galleries and is more like something you might come across in New York rather than in bourgeois Edinburgh. To get a good look at my new work, I cleared hanging space on my studio walls. This meant, in turn, sorting out the storage racks which I have constructed in a box room, a task exacerbated by work arriving back from my son’s flat as he is relocating to Shanghai. I have had to make some firm decisions. I find the paintings that don’t quite work but contain something interesting that I might return to, but probably won’t, a recurring problem. This time, I have been ruthless. I have been wielding the Stanley knife and find the noise it makes quite pleasing, as canvas is shredded for the bin. Other works are reprieved but cannot claim their former liebensraum: acrylics are rolled up and oils removed from their stretchers, stapled to a thin strip of wood and hung like clothes in a wardrobe. For quite a few years, I have put more effort into printmaking. Prints can be stored in a plan chest and they are easier to sell. There are more exhibiting possibilities and younger people buy them. Yet painting remains my first love and I was surprised to come across a few pieces I had forgotten ever producing that, for some reason, I have never exhibited. Although their approach differs from my recent work, they suit my urban theme and I am tempted to include them in my show. If I do this, I will be further departing from current trends. Exhibitions today, if indeed they are so untrendy as to consist of flat rectangles, tend to be made up of work of roughly the same size, identically framed and rigidly organised. I will be unable to do this. I have produced paintings of varying sizes and framing them, I have found that small works require different treatment from larger ones. In some ineffable way, the frame of a small piece must form part of the composition that extends to its outer edges. The frames of larger works, or mounted prints or drawings, merely cut them off from their surroundings. I sometimes wonder though, if the buyer of a work from one of these elegant contemporary exhibitions, doesn’t find when the work is isolated, he or she has only a tiny bit of a composition, which was in fact, the whole exhibition.