‘The Other Foot’, 8″ X 10″,carbon on paper. It is a type of meditation for me, I have no idea where I am or what time it is, or even if time is a substance at all when I am drawing. The drawing presents itself in my mind, and I make the idea real on paper with a pencil. I had made a strange carving in wood of the foot of a horse, Pegasus to be exact, someone chopped off its feet so it could never land again, as Pegasus is immortal it could never land on earth again. It isn’t a classical myth or ancient origin, its a dream I had. This is the other foot.
Dancing across the heavens. The art of dreaming. I usually have a notebook to write in beside my bed. Sometimes the dream lingers long enough to write a few sentences. These sentences will then trigger the memory of the whole dream. Sometimes its only a couple of words. Sometimes the dream just evaporates as I struggle to open the book.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.