From primordial soup to primitive forms

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170121a Blue Forms (2017) oil on canvas 41 x 30cm

Last year I often made random marks and hoped they’d eventually develop into spaces and forms, like a world where things could happen. These marks were the earliest stage of that evolution, so I called them primordial soup. Today’s paintings reminded me of those, because these were made in a similar way, except that now there are definitely forms (life forms? primitive objects?) taking shape in illusionistic spaces.

When I painted these I gave almost no thought to the forms. I concentrated only on the basic principles of representing form and light in space, mostly from what I remember of Rudolf Arnheim’s Art and Visual Perception. I start with the background and work forward. I don’t have much of a sense of how the picture will look until I finish it. I thought this coloured one (below) was a total write-off when I was about half-way through, but I finished it anyway, and when I put the foreground objects in, the whole thing made a lot more sense.

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170121b Forest Forms (2017) oil on canvas 32.5 x 41cm

On reflection, this painting reminds me of Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963). I grew up on both.

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Walt Disney Alice in Wonderland (1951) animated film

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Maurice Sendak Where the Wild Things (1963) illustrated book

The yellow forms on the ground in my painting also remind me of Schutz’s painting, Hand (2004).

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Dana Schutz Hand (2004) oil on canvas 152.4 x 228.6cm

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2 thoughts on “From primordial soup to primitive forms

  1. I am more than content with your post Liam because you’ve let me in to a process you’ve consciously employed to achieve a specific outcome. To paint form and light in space.

    I get muddled when you compare your works with those by artists who you think might have influenced you. But it is important that you muse on these things.

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    • I do think a lot about other art, like a matrix, and tend to see artworks in that context. I just enjoy looking at things that way. But as I become more confident with paint, I think my own process and content will assert itself more, which might mean less referencing. Not sure.

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