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.
These are a few of the books I designed for a friend and fellow painter, Joe Forte. These 3 are part of the series for drawings and paintings of New York over the decades he spent living on the street and drawing the city. Click on a cover to see a preview of the book. They are all available from Amazon in hardcover or paperback.
Joe Forte’s New York, Volume 1
There are 57 ink drawings by Joe Forte of Greenwich Village and its environs.
Joe Forte’s New York Volume 2
Another 57 drawings of the streets of New York from the view of living on those same streets.
Joe Forte’s New York, Greenwich Village and Soho Watercolors
Original watercolors from the New York series by Joe Forte.
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.
At the time I wasn’t here with you, on earth. However, I still worked the same way, mixing primary colours to make everything I needed. The image in this video is called ‘Chemical Prison’. I had recently started a large dose of psyche type medication to keep me alive, it worked. And there you go, I am still here, still the same which frightened the doctors. Why don’t you paint something nice they asked. They were always in gangs, afraid of their patients/inmates.Which is entirely understandable given the circumstances.
As individuals you are wonderful, as a species you are the plague.
You are innocent.You did nothing wrong. The wail of the individual.
‘Reclining/Neurotica II’, 60″ X 120″, oil on canvas, 1988.
The second painting in the attempt to create a style for myself to study the effects of colour and form on the audience, or gallery patrons is more acurate. I am always interested in what the public are doing when they look at the piece, and they don’t know I am the painter, the show is when I can watch you. The idea is that people could be affected by colour and form, even if they don’t know what they are looking at. They physically bend and twist their bodies without realizing it, trying to give the image a place in their minds. Its quite hilarious. And then its too late, the artist is in now, the image moves at the speed of light, you can’t unsee this. What information is in the image?
As you can see I have to stand in the annex to my greenhouses in order to get a picture at all. There are two this size which did make an appearance in the public eye. At a small gallery in the West, and at a business conference. That was fun. This piece was standing vertically beside Neurotica One, it made a ten foot by ten foot wall of flesh. They were both painted at one of those rare moments in my life when I actually loved one of you.
‘Neurotica One’, another painting taken by beings from a different dimension, or reality, as in anyone with a house and a wall large enough to show this painting. The photo of Neurotica One, on the right, is from my sign shop in the West where it was created. Standing beside each other they were a spectacle.
I have just recently pulled this out from my art cave to unroll it and relieve the canvas a little. It should really be hung again in a frame to pull tighter than this. But hanging it for a few days and pinning it down will do for now. Its still really flexible, no cracks at all. It was framed and stretched originally by a professional, me, so its a bargain at $35.000.00 US.
‘Neurotica #2/ Reclining’, 60″ X 120″, oil on canvas, 1988.$35,000.00 US.
A fellow painter of large pieces said to me I should make a record of some kind, a gathering of little images and ideas created from the large ones. Maybe stitched or glued together.
As I have many large paintings, and a great deal of other work, the idea of having something small I could hold in my hand was very enticing. As much for others as it was for me to see what I got up to from my death bed.
I was using a palette knife and a brush for these. I would mix new dried blood colour for doing each line drawing on the blank panel. I had a little mirror hanging on the same wall, and would usually start with a sketch right on the wall. It was covered with little red doodles of my face and attempted body distortions.
I am trying to make the image with as few brushstrokes as possible.
I think it is not truly square, its a found piece of masonite as I remember. If it was in the rubbish pile and I thought it was the right shape or just paintable, I would take it, more from cheapness than any idea of recycling or upward cycling like the future decided would be good. New canvas or even decent wood panels for gessoing was expensive as far as I was concerned, and that was from the lumber store, forget about art suppliers.
The series is not numbered by people in the image to be sure, even the first has two people. Some of them have titles, but for now, for this section of my attempted refurbishing of Bedlam Studio Gallery, there are definitely different rooms, I have them numbered, but even that may not be right. Some were painted simultaneously, sometimes three at once, it depended on what I had seen outside the studios. Just a short walk from my apartment to the studios was enough input of despicableness for a week of paintings.
As soon as the group was 3, sides were taken, someone has to be the least. It was like studying anthropology before I went to university and studied anthropology five years later.