An image that I should leave untitled, it was another outburst of maniacal distortions, not a chance to have a thought before hand, but I am always tempted as my mood changes and I see the effect the title might have on the viewer. Preferably at a live art show, its always the best to see them in person. This piece is 20 years old at least.
‘Entropy’, 24″ X 24″, oil on canvas, 2003. I also named it ‘Stuffed in a Box’, when I was feeling more confined spatially. And Change Machine. Entropy: Within a closed system, like a box, or the universe, entropy will increase. Entropy being the measurement of disorder. It is the second law of thermodynamics. All we can do is slow it down for ourselves locally by putting in energy, like painting pictures and such. I don’t know what you do. Maybe making shelter for everyone, something like that.
The background here is composed of a part of a branch of a tree in a drawing in the book called Entropy, The Art of Graham Houston….I tiled and squared it repeatedly until this appeared, something always appears.
We are all living inside a change machine, and the rate of change is increasing.
I remember it well, so long ago now, at a typical physical art show, you can see the painting in person. The title is on the wall, sometimes. A friend whispered in my ear, “just number them”. I see now the wisdom in that statement. You shouldn’t need anything really. The presence of the physical painting should make you hear it without me saying anything. If I have done it correctly.
I had a small mirror to look at when I was working on this series of paintings. All the characters in Domesticated are using some form of my face, including the female characters when they show up. They are not intended to be photographs, they are impressions.
I was in a fury through most of this time as I had recently lost the lease on my gallery Bedlam. It was a bank desicion. The complexity of the Neurotica pieces seemed to intimidate people. A large field of skin tones is upsetting, its supposed to be, the work isn’t intended to decorate your bathroom. Cartoons are very popular and that was the basis of the style. A simple line drawing with the blood coloured paint mix, either with a knife or a brush. The colours filled in after the lines were in. Then the colour of the uniform I used to capture the psyche of the viewer just with colour. They all wear uniforms, just like you do without realizing.
This was actually ten years prior to the diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, or whatever they are calling it now so as not to upset anyone, because that’s more important. I thought there was something wrong with me for most of my life, partly from people saying ‘there’s something wrong with you Graham’. The sadness and anger were there at the same time, all the time now, an emotional roller coaster running at high speed. A speedball of emotions, chemicals dumped into my blood by my own brain, thanks brain, endorphines and adrenaline, speed and morphine. At times no sleep for days. Which is great for creating the physical works, but there is always a crash. And sleep for a day, then do it all over again.
I’m sure now my brain was cooking itself. I was addicted to my brains behaviour. The psychologist actually said this in session, I am addicted to myself. At this point there were no other drugs, or alcohol for years. It was enlightening and exhilirating to feel that mania without anything. The paintings had to happen, they kept me from putting all the energy I had into bank robbery or something like murder. Painting keeps me out of jail.
And twenty years later it was pretty much the only conclusion the psychiatrists and psychologists could muster. I’m not really an artist. I’m an aggresive mentally ill patient of theirs, who paints pictures to keep from killing all of you. I had no choice but to visit with them, I was on yet another death bed, the crashes can be deadly too. I needed them to keep me alive, so I can paint. That is what I always said about my work, I’m a painter of things, the word artist is yours to use as you see fit.
There are quite a few painting in this style. I have 32 of them close by or hanging up. Possibly fugurative expressionism, I’m not fond of style labels, it leads far too often to people thinking its connected to or should be compared to a different artist, it is not in someone else’s style, it might be labeled a style, that’s all. The style I developed here was to strip down the elaborate brushwork from the neurotica paintings. A simplification of the image, so the idea that you have been domesticated, is perhaps more easily understood. What are we like when we are put in the same confined spaces as the animals we eat. Soft and mushy bones, fatty muscles, psychological breakdown, extreme violence. Homo domesticus.
The ever mutating studio wall. I’ve felt for a while now that the public does not get a good idea of the artwork from a digital or computer screen of some kind. That wall is not electric.
The painting is called ‘The Last Supper’, 1996, you can probably see why. That’s Judas hanging in the corner, I had to find a way to fit that in with the rest of the nonsense, there is a lot of it in this painting. There is an H- bomb dropping from the sky and the writing on the wall says…
And the Lord spake unto his disciples,
LOOK AT THIS MESS,
and verily he said, I can’t leave you guys alone for one minute,
and then he let them have it, saying unto them,
‘This is it! This is the last time I do anything for you lot of ….
Its been seen in public twice now, with a friendly audience only, a pop up type show in the anthropology lunch room, maybe it was independent studies. And a little out of the way cafe where I had to carry it on the bus to deliver it, I was so determined to poke somebody in the eye with it. Its quite heavy, 48″ X 32″ X 0.5″ plywood and 20 lbs or so of paint.
‘The foot of the tree in the park across the road from the centre of the universe.’, 9″ X 12″, pencil on paper.
‘The other side of the foot of the tree in the park across the road from the centre of the universe.’, 9″x12″, pencil on paper.
These drawings were among the first I made following yet another health disaster. Lung disease from living in industrial cities. Doing industrial jobs, I was a sign painter when it was done with paint, also highly toxic, full of lead and every other element of suspicious sources to make real colour that lasts. Forever. That’s what it said anyway. At this point in time I was coping with the 8th time my lung collapsed. Like a balloon popping, you can hear it when it happens. I recovered by sitting on trees and drawing them. The roots mean something to me, the interface to the underworld. The part the tree knows but you don’t. They also look like foothills of mountain ranges like the Himalaya’s which are getting bigger as the glaciers disappear.
This piece is 5″ X 7″ in mixed media on paper. I would love to have made these 30 or so paintings in 5 feet X 7 feet. Large paintings do make an impact. Especially when they are larger than the person viewing it, it makes them look up and around far more I have noticed in shows. Maybe large prints on canvas would work, but they are expensive to create. Or a 72″ monitor positioned in your living room to show every work of art you have collected. The most expensive way to show art.