Assignment 5


For this assignment I intend to develop paintings based on some previous work and some new. Having visited the Jerusalem Biennale exhibition recently where the theme of watershed – an important turning point or moment of change, and concepts of memory and identity were dominant, I decided to base my explorations, loosely, around these ideas as a starting point for work. I am also drawing on ideas from previous work and using the figure or figures as a central motif.

I have started out, again, with various explorations, some from the previous assignment, some from colour sketches and some drawn from other artists work. I wondered if this was legitimate but many artists do borrow or steal from traditional works and from each other. The aim was not to copy but to use as a point of departure. I intend to work on a few of these as more completed images. I was considering size and how the work would be hung and decided to work small ( mainly 23 cm. square) as I knew I could produce more work within the time frame and have more choice between those which seemed to be progressing OK and those which weren’t.


From the images above and a few other sources I have sought to develop a few of these as more finalized paintings, though some are still unresolved.

Images 20 and 21 below, were originally derived from a photo I took at a busy train station. My thoughts were about people being in transit, they are not from where they came from and haven’t arrived at any destination yet. I like these as they are still open and loose but I haven’t pushed them further as I got sidetracked by other work.

Image 25 below and preceding support images were based on a painting by
Nicolas de Staël ( see image 16 ). I was taken by this image though not knowing much about it’s origins. I wanted to work quickly and not wait for paint to dry so worked in chalk pastels which I like for the bold bright colours. I reworked this a few times and was increasingly becoming frustrated as the image had become too laboured. I thought Image 24 would be the final version but it was disappointing so took back into photoshop and played again with the composition, so this is my final version which I want to work up again in pastel or paint. Working with pastels on this small scale I found difficult, working on a larger scale may have produced more interesting results working with more bold, gestural marks.

This next piece, below, developed from seeing image 26 by Jennifer Pochinski. I referenced her web site in Assignment 4. She is not a favourite artist of mine but an interesting colourist and though painting in a seemingly crude or simplistic way, she seems to catch something of the character of her figures. I have also mentioned Cecily Brown before, her style also was an influence in the final work. With images 27-29 I was looking to simplify from the original but didn’t feel it was going anywhere. With image 30 I took a print of an earlier version covered it with a semi translucent turps based ground and started to redraw and colour. This is more interesting and moving away from the original. I have left this for now as was taking a long time to dry. The final version shows Brown’s influence, moving somewhere between realism and abstraction. Not sure it’s successful or not but this is where I stopped.

Within the space of one week I came across two articles referencing Munch’s The Scream, that iconic image of the scream of nature, symbol of modern anxiety and discontentment with the modern world. It reminded me of a rough colour sketch I did in the last assignment ( image 14 ). I thought I’d try another version. It wasn’t intended to be another copy of Munch’s painting and the finished work doesn’t quite capture the disquiet of the little sketch. Not sure whether to do another version or not.



The final image on the right, above was derived from the photo, image 34, a not uncommon feature of life here, of young people at a funeral for other young people caught up in a terrorist attack. I wanted the figures in the image to be somewhat ambiguous, not specifically Middle Eastern, in a kind of a physical and mental no mans land as a result of a ‘watershed’ experience. This image is a digital print, I’d like to work on this as a painting, but interestingly I heard an artist, recently, speaking about the old masters, that, if they were alive today would no doubt be using new media and social media as part of their range of tools and techniques, so I think this is valid to present this as a final piece of work.

The image 38, above, was based on World War 1 photos I found on youtube while working on Assignment 2. The images, of poor quality, some scratched or faded, were of figures walking through fields, it wasn’t clear if they were soldiers or civilians. After painting a tinted ground and making a few gestural marks suggestive of figures, I stopped, concerned I would overwork the image and lose the atmosphere.

The final figure image above, was derived from some sketch work from the last assignment and an image by artist Ken Kewley, ( images 6 and 18 ). I’d like to produce a few variations of this. It’s not fully resolved but that’s it for now.


I have mounted the final work and hung it in my studio in the way I would like to see it hung in a public space. I tried a few variations but a single line works best. I will post the images on the OCA Facebook pages and hope for some valuable critique.


I am happy with some of the outcomes of the final work and can see areas for future development and exploration. Seeing the work on display I don’t think it works as a cohesive body. Although there is a loose thematic thread, stylistically it looks as if the work could have been produced by several different artists. Each of the images could be explored further and more of the same could result in a more unified display.

Working from photos is OK and I’d like to work more with collage but probably my work has more vitality starting from an observed source and exploiting the drawing first as a good foundation for moving on. I chose to work on a small scale but found it frustrating. I was hoping to work on 2 or 3 larger images for this display but the deadline defeated me. It’s interesting that some of the work I discarded I felt I could develop in a different direction.


This short essay seeks to reflect on the development of my work practice throughout this course in relationship to the textural or contextual research that informs it.


Starting out with historical research of the Pre-Modern period, this was enlightening and exhausting as I tried to cover too much ground and so impossible to feed all this into practical work. What was helpful was looking at a particular work in some depth, in this case, Giotto’s Lamentation fresco, considering the theme, style, composition, technique etc and applying this knowledge to some paint explorations. My chief method of research has been the web, looking at artist, college, museum and gallery sites, also art books and my local Museum.

The experimental work was fun to do but I didn’t progress in any depth. While still at school I remember drawing or painting copies of Van Gogh’s work and then feeling uneasy about this because it wasn’t my original work. I have since learnt that copying master works or reinterpreting them is a very good way for developing one’s own skill and technique and in learning more about the content and techniques of the original.

With my research into Modernism, rather than sweep through the whole movement I concentrated on a few artists and areas of interest. My own interest at the time was exploring the more expressive and bold use of colour in my work so I spent more time looking at the Fauvist movement and Matisse’s work. I came across a few artists of interest at an exhibition of Modernist art in Tel Aviv. One being David Park, a key figure in the Bay Area Figurative School, San Francisco. His sense of composition, expressive figurative style and handling of colour has been of some influence.

As a response to what I had been looking at I chose a painting, by Degas, ‘A Cotton Office in New Orleans’, the aim being to explore the composition and colour in a more expressive way and see if I could utilise what I could learn from this in future work, (see projects 3/4, Assignment 1 in the blog).


With the study of Postmodernism I honed in more by focusing on just two artists of interest, Robert Rauchenburg and Anselm Kiefer. Rather than discuss in general a whole mind set I chose two images and looked at some of the ideas and way the works were made as being loosely Postmodern in approach. While the practical work was informed by these ideas I decided to work from a particular theme of interest and exploration, war imagery and landscape. Although aware of a few other artists who had worked with this topic, I didn’t want to be influenced, stylistically by anyone, just see where the research and experiments led.

I took photos of images from YouTube videos, some of these videos were backdrops to songs or war poetry. My interest was also fuelled by films such as War Horse adapted from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. I manipulated some of these images, combining, layering etc. looking for ideas of interest for development. This was my main source of research. I continued with more work in my sketch book, quick sketches from the photo images, exploring ideas with different media.

Taking some of these sketches back into photoshop some quite interesting things were emerging from this experiment. I also continued sketching with charcoal on a larger scale trying to create images of atmospheric landscapes, some which reminded me of William Kentridge’s charcoal drawings. I started to work in colour, also experimenting with text and image and in the sketch book with collage. The final work was somewhat unresolved but there is much here that I wish to revisit.


I started with some historical research looking at the way artists have traditionally, worked in collaboration with others and continued to explore the ways in which artists have been involved in public art projects particularly, in hospitals and offices, also other contexts such as at train stations, factories, in parks, even disposable art painted on trees, the work dissolving in time through weather conditions. I finally made reference to the various artworks I photographed in public spaces in my own town.

Reflecting on my research, I decided to make a public artwork for a local shopping and commercial office mall which desperately needed a visual make over after years of neglect. I continued to make further investigation re: the history of the area and the building and taking visual notes in the sketch book.

My original idea was to produce a mural with an urban theme. I was looking at the work of Jacob Lawrence and Stuart Davis for inspiration. I changed track, thinking about making large colourful banners to be hung, suspended from the ceiling in the open cavernous concourse visible from every floor. I wasn’t convinced this would be the best solution and finally ended up with the idea of a large bird shaped mobile installation, as apposed to the original urban theme. The construction would be of brightly coloured shapes of aluminium suspended by steel rods. This wasn’t a live project so the end result was a mock up of the work made with card, photographed, and via photoshop, placed in situ. I had done some interesting earlier work while researching which I hadn’t pursued but became the seed in exploring urban landscape in the next assignment.


For this next assignment I began looking at a range of work that interested me and connected, thematically, to urban landscape and the figure, the area I wanted to concentrate on. I spent some time with my sketch book as a result of sketching and taking photos in various locations in London which led to some interesting experimental work considering mood and atmosphere working with figures taken from their original context, also thinking more about narrative ideas. After visiting an exhibition at Ben Uri art gallery – the gallery has a mission statement addressing universal issues of identity and migration through the visual arts – it set my mind thinking more about narrative led work for the last assignment.


I have revisited some previous work, have borrowed from other artists work and worked through a theme in mind for this last body of work in Assignment 5. At the Jerusalem Biennale of Contemporary Jewish Art I visited recently there was an exhibit in one room titled Dreamland Never Found, which caught my attention. The artists involved were from the former Soviet Union who had experienced migration at an early age. The exhibition was addressing concepts of memory, identity, torn connections etc. It was something of these thoughts I tried to convey in my final images, working with acrylics, oils, digital image and pastels. As part of the brief I have been sharing my work on-line with some encouraging responses and created a mini exhibition, in my home studio. Only one visitor so far!


Having completed an art foundation course many years ago, when the main influences at the time were Pop and Abstract Expressionism I came to a seeming dead end. Years later in Israel I attended some classes at a school which was based on traditional academic ways of teaching through observation. Narrative based work wasn’t encouraged. I find the middle ground a more satisfying place to work from. I empathise more with the approach of an artist like Mashiul Chowhurry (see Assignment 4 on the blog), who often works from the figure and his observed environment, not being a slave to the subject but using it as a point of departure creating something out of his own vision.

To reference a lecture I heard recently on YouTube by Jordan Wolfson, he spoke about the two main approaches to art making, one, the experimental, the artist who is uncertain of the road, who explores along the way through his chosen media and second, the conceptual approach to making, how the artist arrives at ideas, the creative process mainly going on in the mind. I tend to fit in more happily with the first approach.



Gerhard Richter

In connection with a few sketch images I was working on from my previous assignment, it was suggested referencing Gerhard Richter to what I was doing, so a few brief comments. Although more familiar with his later large abstracts I started to look at his earlier photo related, somewhat blurred images.

In the 1960’s, being influenced by American and British Pop art, Richter began to draw heavily on themes from every day life as portrayed through the photography in newspapers, magazines etc. and also from direct and indirect experiences such as the bombing over Dresden and the Mein Badar terror group paintings. He would later, work more from photos from family albums and from his own photography.

Richter’s work seems to encapsulate a post-modern world of reality which is a world of constant uncertainty. He has said that reality will always lay beyond reach and appearance is all we can have. The blurred effect or technique of dragging a dry brush over wet paint in much of his work is probably a metaphor for the fact that you can’t capture reality precisely. Richter’s paintings represent things unsure.

While some of Richter’s photo based paintings are poignant and technically excellent, I don’t resonate with a lot of it. When he says ‘art is just a mirror’ I don’t agree. His later more abstract work is more interesting.


Paul Moorhouse: Gerhard Richter – Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London (2009)

Robert Storr: Gerhard Richter – Early Photo Paintings (2012)


Assignment 4


I have started on this assignment looking at a few artists whose work and ideas I have some affinity with. I intend to pursue a few visual ideas from my last assignment, considering the urban landscape and the figure and hopefully develop ideas from a brief trip to London where should be doing some sketching and taking photos.


Chowhurry, a practicing doctor but also studied in a drawing class at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for many years. Working often from the figure and urban landscapes, he is not a slave to the subject but uses it as a point of departure and creates something out of his own vision. While initially working from observation, Chowhurry often completes his paintings months later in his studio. He takes lots of photos of urban environments, the textured layers of old billboards, sides of buses etc and while his paintings are different or separate from his photos, they reflect the rich textures and layered forms of urban life.


Teaches at PAFA, was heavily influenced by the Old Masters. Primarily interested in
the figure, by it’s self or placed in semi abstract landscapes or other environments.
Again, often starting from observation but taking the images into a more imaginative
realm. Film and music are also a source for ideas. He talks about taking big
risks and making messes and being in dialogue with the work.


A contemporary American painter whose work sits within the French tradition
premier coup meaning, ‘all at once’. He generally, trys to complete a painting in
one stretch and as a result the work has much vitality. A lot of gestural marks
coupled with larger, calmer areas of bright colour. His work is very much looking
at the visible world but he is not imitating or copying its appearance. From Brewster’s artist statement on his website he says, ‘the evolution of my artistic approach has been a constant destruction and rebuilding of infrastructures drawing more and more into realms of emotion, mood and poetry detached from naturalistic representation and surface appearance’.


This is a Youtube video I watched recently from an exhibition of the same name held at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, April, 2014 curated by Scott Noel. It show-cased the work of four generations working in the lineage of observational painting from Dickenson to recent graduates. Noel stated at the time, ‘The hope is that the show makes a convincing case, that a space is preserved in contemporary art for just this practice – this search for poetry in a direct and unmediated experience of looking’.

All the work revealed a mastery of the medium and the ability to communicate with the language of paint. Most of the artists work directly from observation or nature and memory/imagination, but not exclusively.There were a few artists, working within the figurative tradition not included in the exhibition such as Vincent Desiderio and Justine Mortimor as they draw more heavily on historical, photo and video sources. Someone from the OCA Fine Art Facebook page mentioned Desiderio who has a few videos up on Youtube. Haven’t had time to explore yet but seems worth bookmarking.

Below, are a few works by other artists relating to the current themes that are an interesting point of reference.


Developed as a result of a few days in London exploring the urban environment and the figure in the environment as a source of visual interest and inspiration for ideas for work. Went to Tate Britain with intentions of seeing the Hockney show but thwarted by the mass of people who booked ahead of me. Nearest I got was seeing a publication, a huge book, an edition of maybe only 10 which included most of his work over the decades. Got to meet another Israeli couple in the coffee bar who came over for the exhibition and Eric Clapton’s final tour! Also went to the Ben Uri gallery and saw some work by German Immigrant artists. Thinking on about displacement, identity, further notes in the sketchbook.


I have included below a lot of images, probably too many, and some quite similar to each other, but trying to show evolution of work in progress. A lot of this work no longer exists as it was rubbed out, superceded or deleted. Some of the worked up pieces I was disappointed with and am trying to revisit in a different way.

These first few images originated from observations from streets in Jerusalem and London. I was interested in creating a mood or atmosphere through colour and loose gestural drawing.

Below, image 53, was developed further, working in oils, but was becoming too pictureque and boring and lost the vitality of the earlier work. With image 54, tried to make the colour more subtle and in image 55, cropped the image for a more interesting composition, played with the colour further which reflects more the interesting light one finds in late afternoon Jerusalem.

I started cropping sections of images to see how much I could simplify and yet still retain the essence or experience of the environment.



This rough colour sketch is an impression after wandering through a section of Camden market, purposely abstract in trying to capture the atmosphere of the place. Relatively small, I’d like to make an enlarged version but not sure I can keep the same looseness unless it evolves into something else.

Above are crops from some images from the previous assignment. They remind me of the intricate maze of streets and alleys of the Old City in Jerusalem. I would like to explore further, go back and do some more sketching in the Old City. I like the idea of working with a limited colour palete and possibly explore in collage or mono print.



The next few images are of work that includes figures, mostly unresolved, using colour in an expressionistic way. The figures were people I had originally observed on the streets and the images could be incorporated into larger, more comprehensive compositions.

Images 79 – 83 were derived from observing people at a busy train station I was passing through on route to the airport home. I took a mass of photos, most, pretty boring, not worth working up as compositions, a sea of anonymous people eating or engaged with their cell phones. I later took a few more photos of mainly individual figures at some distance. The image resolution was poor and the images fuzzy but the figures, cropped and taken out of context show more interest. I painted a couple of these figures in gouache at a small scale and want to paint a few more and see if this is worth pursuing on not.


Working on a couple of paintings derived, again, from wandering around near Camden market, London, (see image 41). There is always the dichotomy in places like this between the affluence of the tourists and trendy ones who hang out there and those who live in the area, maybe on the streets, who have fallen between the cracks, who merge into the background and we tend to ignore.

I took a photo of a couple of guys sitting next to a graffiti painted wall and from a distance it almost seemed as if they were part of the painted image. The second of the paintings, with the walking figure, I am working in impasto on a heavily textured ground. Both images are not fully resolved yet.


I have spent a fair amount of time on this assignment despite being distracted by home renovations. I was originally going to work from one abstract image from the previous assignment but lost some motivation for this. The time spent in the sketch book proved valuable after sketching from observation and developing ideas.

I probably should have concentrated more in one area, as I have a number of works which are interesting but still at sketch or in progress stage. The work which is more complete is not as interesting. The technical aspect of not being able to manipulate the oil paint as I would like is still frustrating but guess I need to push through. Working on 3 or 4 images at once helps, as I can move on if I get stuck on one painting or while waiting for the paint to dry.

Reading that many artists re-visit their work or spend weeks or months on it is interesting, alternatively, completing work in a defined time, as exampled by David Brewster, mentioned above, may also lead to work with more vitality. I remember a previous artist tutor saying that we are in charge or control of the painting and we shouldn’t give up on something too soon when it doesn’t appear to be working.

I have listened to a few podcast interviews of artists talking about their practice, (see links below). Observations such as those from Stuart Shils I find quite helpful, such as “define what is important, everything doesn’t have to be worked up to the same degree” and “don’t have fixed ideas of what ‘finished’ is or should be”.


I feel that I don’t want to spend too much time trying to write an eloquent or definitive statement as I’m still experimenting and defining themes that I gravitate toward, even though I have some obvious interests. I can write what I can define for now.

The observed world, be it my urban or the natural landscape is often the starting point for inspiration, also the figure, on it’s own or in a landscape, the conflict of
opposites, the sense of belonging and of alienation.

From initial studies I sometimes explore digitally, colour and composition, looking for something to emerge that has the potential for development as a painting or mixed media work. I try not to be too rigid with a fixed outcome in mind but allow the play of the materials, process and ideas to inform the final results.


Image 1: Untitled, Mashiul Chowdhury
Image 2: Form in Forest, Martin Campos
Image 3: Figure in Landscape, Martin Campos
Image 4: Voltage Range Overlap, David Brewster
Image 5: Powerlines, David Brewster
Image 6: Italy, Stuart Shils
Image 7: Recent Oil, Stuart Shils
Image 8: Swing Landscape, Stuart Davis
Image 9: Townsquare, Stuart Davis
Image 10: Community, Jacob Lawrence
Image 11: Jamaica,NY, Jacob Lawrence
Image 12: City Landscape, Ken Tutjamnong
Image 13: City Landscape, Ken Tutjamnong
Image 14: Things Behind the Pines, Ken Kewley
Image 15: Hyperallergic, Sangram Majumdar
Image 16: Figures, Nicolas De Staël
Image 17: Les Muscians, Nicolas De Staël
Image 18: Self Portrait, Carolyn Pyfrom
Image 19: Life Study, Miles Richmond
Image 20: Grand Central Station, Jenifer Pochinski
Image 21: In the Field, Janice Nowinski

Mashiul Chowdhury, Learning from the Figure
Martin Campos, Painting the Human Trace
KenTutjamnong, The Love of Painting
From Edwin Dickenson to the Perceptual Painters. Observation & Invention


Assignment 3




In my research I started looking at examples of art work done in a variety of contexts outside the “studio” including work not strictly 2-D or rectangular. I also took photos of work around my city center as a source of reference and information.

Traditionally, artists, architects and craftsmen have worked together in shaping our built environment and often the combined skills of the various disciplines created something greater than just satisfying functional requirements.

The use of terracotta as a decorative element in architecture was very popular in the late nineteenth century. Craftsmen, working to architects specifications produced interesting detailing for buildings. The above images show decorative detailing to the interior and exterior facade at the Michelin Tyre Co. building, London.


I looked at the example of art being placed in hospitals and offices commissioned for specific spaces. I have tried to show examples that vary in scale and media. In a number of countries there is a movement toward making art an integral part of new public building through programs that set aside a small percentage of the construction and design budget for works of art.


4. The ground floor of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital based at Rochester University, U.S.A. has a lake theme with blue tones and water-inspired elements. The environments of the PET-MRI and CT scan are fashioned to look like a pirate ship and a lighthouse to help reduce stress as patients enter this area. Not sure if this image is an artist’s rendering or the real thing.

5. Large ‘monster’ sculpture that attempts to fill the large cavernous space between floor levels at the New Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Made of Steel, GFP & carbon fibre with kinetic elements.

6. This leaf shaped installation of painted steel is a welcome addition to the exterior of this rather bland looking building.

7. One of a series of three large horizontal paintings of beach scenes commissioned by painter Hurvin Anderson for the Renal Department at the Royal London hospital. Acrylics on paper, on board.

8. Office mural for a company in Seattle. This is intriguing, at first glance I thought this was made with fabric strands on wood, then probably plastic tubing but it’s actually a spray painted image.

9. To launch the new hospital building programme at The Royal London, artist Pae White was commissioned to create a temporary billboard screen taking as its inspiration the ticker tape parades of her native USA.

10. ‘Tales of the Oceans’ mobile sculpture, stainless steel and aluminum, by Uri Dushy in the Ocean Financial Center, Singapore.

11. Inside the Jack London Square Headquarters of Navis, a world-leading shipping logistics company. The strong angles of the finishes were designed to recall compass points, sails, and nautical flags. There is an interesting relationship of the wall panel with the shapes, colours of the light fittings and furniture.

12. Bridget Riley, corridor mural at St Mary’s Hospital, London. This, in contrast with the last image is monotonous and doesn’t convey to me anything uplifting to the spirit. Hope my ward is on another floor!

13. Social area created in this corner of a conference room in a refurbished apartment in Poland, made primarily from polished triangular pieces of ply.


14. Eduardo Paolozzi, mosaic mural on the London Underground system. His work referenced images of the entertainment culture, rushing commutors and the urban economy.

15. 2/3D piece by artist Richard Smith. Smith’s work, with his strong sense of colour, shape, pattern and texture could have enriched more people if the work had been placed in a wider public context than just the gallery.

16. Relief painting by Richard Smith.

17. This is really interesting, this temporary image done in a remote forest on fire damaged trees using natural chalk pigment which washes away with water.

18. Mural for Unipart factory, Coventry by Sue Ridge. This is also very interesting. The artist uses bold bright colour, simple shapes and motifs presumably related to the products or materials the factory uses in an effort to humanise this vast space.

19. Olaf Breuning, Clouds, for The Public Art Fund | Central Park South and 59th Street. An installment in the Central Park ‘plaza’,New York. Clouds is a 35 feet tall aluminum and wood sculpture meant to resemble the childlike imagination and naiveté of school play backdrops.

20. Sue Ridge, Euston Station Banners 1994. Commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society for Intercity British Rail Community Unit. The six 4 metre tall rolled aluminum banners were developed to withstand issues of vandalism and comment on the everyday issues of commuting as going into battle.

21. Robert Rauchenburg, Nabisco, 1971, card relief.

22. Robert Rauchenburg, Rodeo Palace, 1975/6. These two pieces I saw recently at the Tate Modern. I can image these being adapted some what as part of temporary installations in a site specific space. Could be interesting experimenting more with found objects and materials.

23. Interesting community arts project with individuals creating with one piece of a jigsaw puzzle that comes together as a whole. Seems to have gone viral.


The above are various art works I photographed in public spaces around my town. I don’t feel I need to say too much about them as I have covered a lot of ground already. Some of these images, while interesting in themselves, don’t have much context to the immediate environment. The mural in Image 25 seems an integral part of the building, seems to have always been there. The figures in the mural, though not very clear in the photo, are local people the artist drew or photographed.


Image 1. Interior View of St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy
Image 4.
Image 5.
Image 6.
Image 7.
Image 8.
Image 9.
Image 10.
Image 11.
Image 12.
Image 13.
Image 15.
Image 16.
Image 17.
Image 19.
Image 20.
Image 21. Hunter S. (1981), Robert Rauschenburg, Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa
Image 22. Hunter S. (1981), Robert Rauschenburg, Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa
Image 23.


I was initially planning working with a group of autistic youngsters but felt, to make it worthwhile I would need more time than the scope this current project allowed. So in light of some of my textural research I decided to think about a site specific work at a nearby shopping and commercial centre which I am pretty familiar with. This was not a live project but gave me the opportunity to explore ideas and media, to come up with a proposal which might work if implemented.



The Clal Building — arguably the ugliest building in Jerusalem, is a 15 story office tower and shopping mall completed in 1972, the first such mall in Jerusalem and now widely viewed as a commercial and architectural failure.

Initially there was a high occupancy rate but , over time, with the development of more modern and well designed malls and shopping centres, many companies and businesses moved out and stores closed through lack of business.

There are now attempts to revitalise the space, mainly due to the efforts of a non profit group, an organisation bringing together artists, social activists, initiators etc. with the belief that art and creativity can bring about sustainable change. The group have taken over a location at the top of the mall’s spiral they named The Terrace., planned as a meeting and exhibition space and where various courses and workshops are held.

In thinking about what kind of art work and theme, I started sketching in the streets and popular market near the building to get a feel of the local community. The original building on the Clal site was a vocational arts and crafts school and I thought of including some of this history in a mural or painting but didn’t pursue this. I had been looking at the urban, stylised paintings of Stuart Davis and Jacob Lawrence and created a few images that if blown up large had the potential to be quite interesting.

I took another diversion after seeing a local exhibition of paper works and started to think about the possibility of a relief work or banners that could be viewed at various floor levels.

I began to play around with simple shapes and bold colour, looking again at Matisse’s cutouts, thinking about creating very long or tall banners that would be suspended from the ceiling and divide up the vast space of the central atrium. I also started thinking about adding birds as a motif in the designs. Image no. 42, is a simulation of what the banners would look like in the space.

I decided to explore further as I wasn’t convinced that using an urban community theme was the best solution. Looking again at previous research I thought the idea of introducing nature or the outside world into the building using the bird motif could be a more fun and interesting thing to do. Birds can often be seen flying around the top of the building because of holes in the corrugated plastic roofing. Started to consider the idea of a large mobile installation of simple bird shapes to be made of aluminum and painted in bright colour. suspended on steel rods.

Not having the money or time right now to work with the actual materials, I developed sketch ideas and made up a card model to simulate the installation which I photographed.

Below, is a simulation of the installation in the building with a (fake) promotional poster advertising it. (This actually looks more interesting than the original mockup!)

I enjoyed this assignment despite initially not having a clue which direction to go in. I probably spent more time on the textural research than was necessary as there was more I wanted to experiment with in my sketchbook than I had time for. Looking at the range of work found in hospitals and offices was stimulating – would be nice to receive such a commission.

In future work, it would be worthwhile spending more time on the initial drawing, coloured sketch phase and seeing what can emerge from this. Also exploring other media more, even if it doesn’t lead to a final object/result. Working up some of this early work on a larger scale could have been worth exploring more, even though this was not the direction I took the project, likewise, with the banners. The banners work better when the design is less busy and complicated.

I was pleased how the bird theme installation emerged and could see it developed in other sections of the building using different elements and media. It’s not the most visually exciting thing but the link to the natural environment was probably a good way to go for such a drab building. I am not convinced the installation would actually work in the Clal building itself because it’s such a large cavernous space, probably work better in a smaller environment. I hope to revisit some of the earlier work done in my sketchbook, as for me, this holds more interest.


Assignment 2



1. Sample of the initial charcoal sketches based on photos collected for research.

2. An image created in photoshop from some of the initial sketches. Interesting possibilities for this to be worked on in variety of media but, as yet, I haven’t taken this any further.

3. Charcoal drawing on 45 x60 cms. paper. A loose, pretty abstract image of ambiguous forms suggestive of a battle scarred environment.

4. Simplification of an earlier colour sketch in pastel and chalk on tinted paper.

5. One of the final images and slight development/variation from previous versions.
oils on canvas board.

6. The final image I worked on with oils and pastels. An attempt to make the work more lively with more spontaneous mark making which some of the earlier work achieved.

I chose these 6 images because I felt, they were not only developmental, but more experimental than some of the other pieces.


For full contextural research for Assignment 2 click on the following links

Project 1 Project 2


Various explorations based on the theme for practical research.


I found working through the context of a theme helpful and gave me a good focus for experimentation. From the material I have collected and the work done, there is the potential to explore further after this assignment is complete. I think some of the work would be interesting to explore further through printmaking techniques.

While experimenting I wasn’t so concerned about working in the style of any particular artist, though Kiefer and Kentridge, whose work I looked at through the textural research, was in my mind. I didn’t want to think too much but wanted to work more intuitively and be open for a few surprises.

I still have the tendancy to want to think more about the end result, the composition, at the expense of exploring the media further. In some of the sketchbook pages there is more interest than in some of the more completed efforts. I was working small because I knew I could get the work done more quickly. I think it would be helpful to work on a larger scale with some of the texture and material interest I find in artists like Rauschenburg and Kiefer.


Practical Research
into Postmodernism


Working through the themes of war imagery and landscape as a focus/starting point for media exploration. Based on found images which I manipulate – drawing also on memory through music and lyrics on the theme and war poetry and informed by certain works of artists who could loosely be called Postmodern.

  • Starting with photo manipulations and sketchbook explorations
  • Try exploring with different media/grounds
  • Interest in relationship of figures in/to landscape
  • How to express in visual terms – not only human loss, futility – also damage and destruction of the landscape but also always the possibility of hope and restoration.
  • Find motifs – connect back to images of war in art history – narratives.
  • The unnatural relationship of trenches, war weapons and technology with nature.
  • How the unnatural and natural merge – disguarded mangled weaponry takes on appearance of charred twisted trees, also the human figure, the same.
  • Use of found objects/ materials, text, text as image.

I like the statement of artist Denis Crefield – his approach to his subject. “I am not interested in creating an illusion of reality, but in trying to find a substantial form for it’s substantiality – an image of actual experience”.1


I found a number of war related images and played around, collaging various images together, playing with the colour, looking for something evocative and a few motifs to work from.


I continued with a few loose quick landscape sketches in charcoal and graphite with
very little detail. Not thinking so much about composition as interesting mark making.


14 I took some of these images into photoshop, playing with the colour and thinking a little more about composition. I like these and think there is potential for further development but I wanted to continue exploring more with drawing.


I experimented next with a few larger drawings, 45 x 60 cms. – still fairly loose sketches of some what distressed landscapes. I like working with this medium, you can create interesting tonal atmosphere and mark making until you overwork the paper. I again worked fairly quickly and tried to work differently with each image.

The photo (image 24) shows a few different textured surfaces I thought I could work with. Some of the drawings started from rubbings I initially made from an old, flaking piece of ply board. I find William Kentridge’s work very interesting and the way he works and reworks his charcoal drawings for his animations.2 I made a not to successful attempt at metamorphosing images 26 and 27.


The two images below are crops taken from mono prints I did a while back. While being completely abstract they are very evocative of something bad happening.


These three images were basically mark and colour exercises on found surfaces with a vaguely embattled landscape theme in mind. No. 30 was a sheet of glass I found with some markings already on it. I added marks with oils and turps. Images 31 and 32 I worked with oils and pastels on a ground of canvas pasted on boards.

Image 33, one from a few sketches from my sketch book, (see image 22). Pastels on coloured paper. The lines indicative of burnt trees or figures. Image 34, red ground or colour field, graffiti lines indicating foreground.

With Images 35 and 36 I tried incorporating text. No. 35, was derived again from a photo – oils on canvas board. No. 36, was worked with pastels and charcoal on an old giglee print – the text is part of a poem by Lawrence Binyon. No. 35, if worked on large, could work, but needs a lot of textural and material interest.

Images 37 – 42 were the last of the bunch, in some way, a progression from
earlier work. The elements in the foreground I wanted to keep fairly ambiguous. I was working with oils, black gesso and pastels. Reflecting on images 38,39,40, they are more complete as compostions but lack some of the spontaneity and looseness of some of the earlier sketches. I worked on the last image fairly quickly, trying to bring some of this interest back.

Thinking about abstraction and figuration and the relative ease of drawing against the difficulty of painting, I find an echo in this quote by William Kentridge, he was talking about aspects of modernism. “I was looking at those branches of modernism that didn’t leave figuration. For me,abstraction was like colour: when I tried to work in complete abstraction, I had no idea what I was doing, why I should make one mark and not another. Now, in fact, a number of my drawings end up as non-recognisable smudges on paper – but they had a route to get there that started with a connection to a representation of the external world”.3

1 Quote from Denis Crefield, Yigal Zalmona, (1992), British Figurative Painting of the 20th Century, P. 86, Jerusalem, The Israel Museum Publication.

2 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, William Kentridge -On His Process.

3 Article from the Guardian Newspaper, Interview by Dale Berning,19 September 2009.


brainstorm-dTextural Research into Postmodernism

If Modernism conveyed a more utopian vision of human life, a belief in progress, embracing science and technology in explaining reality then Postmodern thinking challenged, to a greater extent, the notion of universal objective truths and reliance on reason. Individual interpretations of our experiences and embracing complex and contradictory layers of meaning are more common.

There is no clear definition of what art should be and there is a blurring of the distinctions between high culture and mass – pop culture and every day life.

I looked at a few artists and specific works that define some of the ideas within Postmodern thinking.


One definition of the change in thinking between Modernism and Postmodernism is the shift between observing things, forms and objects, to being more conscious about the cultural systems that inform about the objects. This is a shift from nature to culture.

According to musician John Cage, a friend of Robert Rauchenburg, “The task of art is waking us up to the very life we are living” . What qualifies as art is not the conventional, – that it’s composed or skilful or that it’s beautiful, what counts as art, for Cage, is anything that makes us more alert to life – art defined by what it does to us. The cultural systems were the main pre-occupation of people like Cage and Rauchenberg.

This is an earlier mixed media work, Rebus,1955, what Rauchenberg called a combine painting. It’s a self contained art object, not a ‘window’ to nature or the world in a conventional sense. He used a range of media, paper, fabric, pencil, crayon, newspaper, paint pot colour swatches, printed reproductions of famous art works and oil paint. While collage and using found objects was not new, Rauchenberg seemed to be re-negotiating established rules about style and language. So this image is a collage of knowledge and experiences of art history and also modern day life.

Rauchenberg used to watch a lot of TV in his youth, so elements of interest from media and pop culture are in the work, elements of text, aspects of field painting, abstract expressionist splashes and drippings, the colour swatches seems to allude to the language of colour.

So, while Modernist work became more exclusionary, Rauchenburg became more radically inclusive. He was a media landscape artist and while working predominantly before the internet, where there is no center, more a series of relationships, he seems more a product of the information rather than the mechanical age.


I came across this painting by Kiefer watching Yale University’s lecture, History Painting after Two world Wars. I was drawn to to this title as I have some interest, currently, in war imagery and the emotional and physical reality of war has often been the source from which a number of twentieth century artists have drawn.

It was interesting that this work ‘The unborn’ (in English) was in the context of more traditional historical works. History painting take forms, aspects of texts, myths, scriptures, real events etc. conveying a message, moral, political or religious. So while, in this work, there is no obvious realistic narrative, through the physical materials, the tiny pasted on fabric clothes, painted numbers and other sources seems to reference to Germany’s recent past and wider issues of souls looking for a home or who have prematurely departed. The plant in the center looks like a tree of life, it’s coated with plaster, but it’s been uprooted from it’s source.

Kiefer is Postmodern in the sense he draws on a variety of sources and contexts and use of materials like Rauchenberg while avoiding attention to the more banal materialistic aspects of contemporary life.


Notes and Research

Hunter S. (1981), Robert Rauschenburg, Barcelona, Ediciones Poligrafa


Postmodern Strategies: Mixed Messages and Undecidability – Jon Anderson

Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Lecture 12, History Painting after Two World Wars: Anselm Kiefer’s Die Ungeborenen

Anselm Kiefer | “Die Ungeborenen” | Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac | Paris Pantin | 2012


William Kentridge

Leon Golub

Mary Barton-Nees

Sangram Majumdar