A week ago my `always dodgy` right shoulder decided to pack up on me on the golf course. Turns out it is calcific tendonitis. On the supraspinatus tendon. In simple terms this meant a lot of pain and inability to use my right (painting) arm, not to mention swing a golf club!
After a day or so of feeling sorry for myself - and under the comforting balm of prescription painkillers - I figured that there must be some form of art I could manage. Something that I could do with my left hand and with minimum use of my right, which was flapping uselessly by my side like Olivier`s Richard 111 or a crow on a bad day. Something that would avoid subtle brushstrokes. Something that could be accomplished with solid blocks of colour and a profusion of straight ruled black lines. Patrick Caulfield came to mind.
I saw his retrospective exhibition at the Tate Britain last year. I was not familiar with his work but the purity of the lines and the simplicity of the blocks of colour left a deep impression. I was fascinated by the way that in some works he inserted a photorealist treatment into the otherwise pristine dreamlike whole, for example in this work above. This is a style I am going to use for a new commission back in the UK, for which I have to thank my new art buddy Jon Sharples (but more of that later).
I decided to experiment with this kind of style whilst waiting for my shoulder/arm to get better. The inspiration came from a visit to The Tokyo National Art Center, a magnificent building opened in 2007 in Roppongi and designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa. Apart from housing a great permanent collection it also regularly showcases Japanese artists as well as many visiting exhibitions. From the outside, the building`s facade undulates in great 4 storey steel and glass waves. Enter into the cool interior and a vast open atrium into which two huge circular free standing structures (resembling giant concrete flower pots) have been deposited. The smaller of these sports a cafe, the larger/higher a rather posh Paul Bocuse eatery. The Japanese do these things so well. The view I chose for my Caulfield-style canvas manages to shoehorn - with judicious use of perspective - both of these into the frame. I used a large old canvas with a defunct painting on it and after 5 or 6 coats of gesso I was ready to go. The finished product took very little time to complete. The basic composition was hand drawn from a photograph, the medium used acrylic paint with black felt tip for the lines. Not easy to get a smooth consistent flow with a brush and this paint. Now I can see why Caulfield used gloss decorating paint, and latterly printing techniques to achieve the purity of colour. Anyway, it kept me busy for a day or two, and as my right arm is much better, I will now revert to my usual style!