Primordial Soup (black and white)

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Primordial Soup 17 (2016) oil on paper 38 x 48cm

When I first started painting, at the beginning of 2016, I used only black and white paint. This was because I thought that my CVD would prohibit me from working effectively with colour (more on that here and here).

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Primordial Soup 6 (2016) oil on paper 38 x 48cm

I was unfamiliar with painting in oil, and was surprised by how differently the paint behaves compared to acrylic or watercolour. For the first few months I’d cover sheets of paper with paint, experimenting with different ways of mixing and applying it. I call these “Primordial Soup”, because I hope that these paintings contain the beginnings from which my later paintings will emerge, rather like the early work of the painters I wrote about in this post.

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Primordial Soup 9 (2016) oil on paper 28.5 x 20cm

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Primordial Soup 14 (2016) oil on paper 20 x 28.5cm

I still look back and refer to these “Primordial Soup” paintings because they’re so exuberant, varied, and full of the pleasure of paint. More recently, I’ve been working on other aspects of picture making: colour, illusionistic pictorial space, larger scale, and a more considered approach to composition and subject matter. In doing so, my painting technique has become far more restrained, but I continue to look at these early paintings and I hope in future I will be able to combine the paint handling of the “Primordial Soup”s with the other skills in picture making that I’m developing now.

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Primordial Soup 16 (2016) oil on paper 48 x 38cm

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Primordial Soup 19 (2016) oil on paper 38 x 48cm

ps. I wrote an earlier post about “Primordial Soup” paintings here, but those paintings are actually later than the black-and-white ones here. In some ways, I think of these ones as the true soup, because they came first and are less coherently formed.

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13 thoughts on “Primordial Soup (black and white)

  1. This is a satisfying post. The anthropological framing of your painterly evolution will serve you well Liam. The black and white was right for you then. Christ knows you have mined it well here, tonally, with the first Primordial Soups pieces. And your ungoverned explosions are no mere primitives. But get fucked right now if you only started painting in 2016!!! Or, better still, get fucking on with your painting. I guess that means you’ve got it. I think your post implies that you accept this. That is mature and can only clear the way for you to fire. I had no conception that I had started to intrude on you during your larva phase. Now I’m feeling like a long distance midwife. They are bossy bitches, so watch out, haha.

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    • Yeah, I bought my first oil paints in January, and was instantly in love with them. These early paintings are so spirited, I’m glad I keep everything. I can learn so much from my former self, even just looking back 11 months!

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      • I studied art ten yours ago, and I wrote a bit on art for a few publications, including the Sunday Times (get thee behind me Rupert Murdoch). That’s what I was doing before making porn.

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      • I’m loving the diversity in your makeup. That’s not being patronising. It explains your relaxed dealing with the intellectual and conceptual aspects of both your own work and of art that you are considering. Liam the hooks for me though we’re first, those fresh early pieces and your ability to convey your own sense of wonder at the process, absent any ego.

        When I was just a naughty gay baby and fresh out of Law School I went to London to be away from any obligation. I was at a party with our now Prime Minister whom I knew but not closely. He had put the hard word on Rupert for a job. We introduced ourselves around. His gambit was : “Malcom Turnbull, Rhodes Scholar, The Sunday Times”! He was there for a time, but never wrote a line. It was during Thatcher and Murdoch’s Newspaper War, and they were out on strike the better part of a year!

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  2. It sounds like you’ve had an interesting life too. Remind me, what’s your involvement in art? Do you read a lot about it, or is it a coincidence that you knew about Annette Hamilton’s work on Rauch?

    And also, I’m curious – Which “fresh early pieces” are you talking about? The stuff I was posting in July / August? I don’t feel like I have time to write in that much detail about the process of painting now, although I’m still experiencing it very much like that, discovering new things all the time, in a state of wonderment!

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    • I was so in wonder after seeing the mammoth exhibition of Sigmar Polke’s at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice that I searched for info on him. That’s how I found Annette Hamilton – and I then discovered that she had a thing for the Germans and read all her stuff. Including a little on Rauch. So I searched his stuff. I like her writing, I like what she wrote on Richter, so I keep looking her up and subscribe to her blog. I know nothing about her, but responded well to how she introduced herself on her blog. There are some parallels with you. I’ve not got around yet to looking for her paintings.

      Me, my interest is purely amateur Liam. Iv’e done a few “evening” courses at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sydney University, OK level – but I more enjoy doing my own nosing around and am grateful for the internet in this regard. I had a significant talent in piano as a juvenile. I have followed that up and am still playing. I am doing a composition degree here, very part part time, and am loving its demands and discipline and am loving getting into technique. I have concluded that I have a slight gift only, but one I am willing to nonetheless indulge and explore. But it is in my bones in a way that art is not. Yet I ache over and am fed by them both. I have a cousin, a long time gallerist here in Sydney who has promoted quite a few significant Australian modern painters. I am close to her and although I never had formation in the understanding of art, I was close by it, I followed it and I’ve conversed on it endlessly within a certain peer group, and have had access socially to people whose life and careers are bound up with art.

      I can’t remember when I first started looking at your blog and would have seen your work, so in asking which early pieces was I referring to, I can’t say offhand, without doing some research haha. Probably Auguest/September? But I recall a period soon after I “found” you where you put up a lot of pieces with commentary about what you were attempting. Then I went back and saw what I hope is everything you have posted.. Freshness was a word that came straight to mind. I don’t actually know for sure if I saw your black and white pieces until the other day, but we have discussed around this when your were wondering about your colour blindness some month or so ago. Anything earlier of yours I have seen would have been in video and while equally valid artisticly, answer slightly different urges in me haha.

      You seem like a cool cat to me, and in your previous world, with its contentious and controversial elements, you appeared to play it deadpan and simply let things speak for themselves – for better of worse. That’s a cool way of dealing with the spotlight and judgment. So to see you say in your last that you are getting joy and wonderment out of your painting shows another Liam and a characteristic which, if you didn’t have it, would ultimately sink your creativity, no matter how accomplished your technique became.

      Liam it aint surprising that you don’t have the time to write in detail about your process. It would be self defeating if you felt obliged to. Much better if, from time to time, it just flows because you want to write it for yourself alone. Sometimes it then becomes part of your self-enquiry and will foster something in your development. And if it’s painting now which drives you, rather than writing, then that is even more of a tip for you. I say that because all the rumination and assessment and musing in the world can’t take the place of that undefinable element which comes from somewhere in your guts, which you might be in touch with to a degree, but cant govern. Sometimes you will be allowed to mine it, sometimes you will tear your hair out. And trying to pin it down with words can erode it. This I firmly believe.

      There’s a lot of bullshit in that last paragraph. So ignore me, and for my benefit WRITE hehe.

      I am grateful for your conversation back to me. I derive huge value from looking at what you paint and what you say and in hearing your points on matters I’ve raised. That makes it an enjoyable but not demanding intellectual exercise in regard to subject matter which, wiithout the asking, immediately struck a chord. Just to initially tell you I liked your stuff would have been all that happened had I not noticed straight away that you write unaffectedly about yourself, almost trying to view your efforts from outside of yourself, acknowledging surprise at yourself and always revealing wonder – but never in a flowery way. As you can see, I’ve got the dribbles again so I’ll just shut up

      Phil x

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      • This is such a great message. Thank you. It’s good to be back on here. One day I’m going to have to hear some of your musical compositions. I’m glad you’re enjoying the degree. Studying is so much fun. I also play the piano, and I used to compose. All these things are so life enhancing. 🙂

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      • Laughing my head off. At me. Nodding at your comment about matters creative being so life enhancing. Laughing because I just mused on how relatively late in life I came to this realisation. I was a gifted person academically, materially privileged, but confined a precocious musical gift in favour of mainstream goals. I could play anything by ear when I was 4, FFS.

        When I hit the wall after diagnosis in my early 40s and started to gaze inwards, and have others do that too, it amazed me that the questioning zeroed in on sexuality, guilt, mental health, imagined self loathing, It was such fun to realise I had merely been a pleaser, proud of my self big time, and that the only things I had really repressed were natural inclinations in the intellectual and creative realm. I figured that a turn in the direction of humility and following my instincts might serve me better. I certainly never again fussed about fully maximising and exploring my appetites.

        Shedding a packet of layers later, and I was happy and dangerous. At one point you might have thrust one of your cards into my hand hahaha. Knowing I was subverting a previously ironclad, suffocating acquiescence was what was life affirming for me. I no longer have the need put myself in quite the manic, incessant problematic situations I did for a while but expectations figure far less in my decisions and I easily figure and am content with all my options mentally.

        Quite fortuitously, I have 3 daughters, now strong young women who totally get me and encourage. They engage quite easily in my worlds. One of my friends for a while was on TIM’s books. At a festival last year he had a performance in which he engaged the audience bluntly, interactively, in questions about his film and escort work. Two of my kids thought this would be useful, came out raving.

        In matters political, social, artistic and hedonistic I try to avoid received wisdom. Thus I fall flat on my arse plenty of times. But that’s a bit of a giggle and, plenty of light gets in (thanks Leonard Cohen). And to happen on something new and unheralded which sparks anything inside me, sees me hitting the GO button I am conscious though that sometimes these are mere enthusiasms. So I try to slot things where I have a genuine, consistent legitimate interest. As with your blog and art.

        Why I needed to explain myself is anyone’s guess. Especially as such a process is open-ended. I won’t apologise, and only hope that when I read this back, there is some coherence within it – if not some justification for laying it on you. What is interesting is that I have never laid these thoughts out before like his.

        It’s also your fault Liam, and sprang from your “life affirming” mention.

        Px

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      • So I’ve crossed into self indulgence in my previous message to you Liam. That’s bad manners and I’ll remember from now on that this is your blog – not an agony aunt column.

        Were I to have a blog, it would be called tinkletinkletinkle! I would be happy to send you a few of my early compositions – you will see how putative and tentative is my craft. But there is a parallel for every person striving to make of build something in the thoughts that you have offered in here. I feed off that – regardless of where I am at.

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