Since I started painting, I’ve mostly worked relatively small. For some time I’ve been trying to work larger, but have found it very difficult to complete paintings larger than about 50cm. Often I felt pressure to conceive and execute a “good” big painting, which always back-fired, and I’d return to working on much smaller scraps of canvases, which felt blissfully free of pressure.
As an experiment, to get in the habit of working larger, I’m going to revisit earlier smaller paintings, and make large “versions” of them – not literally scaling them up, but using similar marks, colours, etc.
For this first attempt, I took as my starting point the black and white “Primordial Soup” paintings that I wrote about here. This painting is more than double the size of any of the paintings from that time.
I wouldn’t want to argue the merits of this painting to anyone else, but personally, I feel positively about it. It was difficult to photograph. The blacks in the lower half of the painting look grey in this photo.
Working at a different scale feels like going back to an earlier stage, learning how the paint behaves all over again. Initially I was covering the canvas in experimental marks. Toward the end I got bored and started making hands and faces (heavily indebted to Schutz and Linhares, but what the hell). The picture was on its side, so I didn’t have a sense of the composition vertically, but the result is fine with me. It reminds me of crowded compositions by Max Beckmann, where everything is carved up in the same high-contrast brushstrokes, and the contents of the picture looks like it’s squashed into a junk-shop window.