The brush that strokes the canvas leaves a semblance of spontaneity behind; paint remains as a sign; the painted gesture, as one of many, abandons its mark of distinction to repetition; a series of grey flourishes, both black and white yet neither black nor white, make the fluid concrete, the concrete fluid; the doodle in oil, a contradiction in terms and physicality, evokes high and low culture that coerce and collide.

This is “The Nature of Things”

No. 1


Look at an artwork by Georg Frauenschuh. Take a landscape, for example. Consider its form and content.

Poor Nature

… a layer of intricate scribbles, strokes and points provides the vibrant pictorial ground for a choice representation of ‘things’. In the collection are a paintbrush or two and a tube of paint, some fruit on a plate, a group of bottles, perhaps a flame. Each element is positioned independently within the composition and opens a conversation with its counterparts. A rectangular aspect of red and yellow, expressive and abstract, sits in opposition to an outline of objects, scored precisely from light to dark. The depiction of fruit, in the form of a still life, is all the more distinct from that of clip art paintbrushes and paint. As painted fragments, all these elements are nevertheless equally flat, egalitarian. The culturally accepted norms of representation, where the still life is considered more realistic and studied than the graphic depiction, are rendered indifferent. Source imagery from magazines and google searches, mass-produced and myriad, printed cheaply and quickly, are cut, tacked and then expanded, exploded in paint …

No. 2


Tuppence: “Photography’s dead.”
Worth: “I know.”
pregnant pause
Worth: “You know, they said the same about painting.”
Tuppence: “I know, I know.”


Exhibit A: The death of painting
Painting’s death, it’s said, was caused by photography’s birth. When faced by a new mechanical means of representation, painting suffered. Its prime position and assured perspective on the real was unsettled. Traces of light measured in fractions of a second soon superseded layers of pigment drawn over millennia. Photography, à la mode, changed our mode of picturing the physical world, our ways of seeing.

Although painting had fallen, it wasn’t dead and buried, despite appearances. Once over the initial shock, it revived. Released from its figurative mantle, painting was reborn.

Exhibit B: The death of photography
Photography’s death, on the contrary, is constant and inherent. Every time we take a photo, we capture a moment that is, from that point onwards, past. That’s the theory; this is well-known.

Although commonly used to record experiences such as little John Doe’s birthday party, photography doesn’t solely serve to preserve memories. Whereas the snapshot recalls a specific place, time and expression, stock photography represents generic locations, events and emotions. ‘Work’, ‘time-off’, ‘business’, ‘freedom’ and even ‘birth’ are signified without significance or authorship in photos only produced to be reproduced.

Exhibit C: The painting of stock photography
The battle for status is over: it’s been agreed that photography can be art and that painting is independent of photography. Art can now mourn mass-media’s loss of value without foregoing its own. Painting a stock photograph may in effect give value to that which had little if any.

Choosing one of many images, appropriating its subject and altering its form adds meaning. The photograph representative of ‘workshop’, for instance – enlarged, interrupted by blank space and painted with adjacent planes rather than seamless photographic contrast – is gifted ‘creativity’ where it was previously only connoted. That the applied references are empty or refer to painting before perspective suggest that what is added is also taken away. The image of the hobbyist’s sculpture class, where personal expression is defined and confined by expectation, is simultaneously lifted and disrupted. This is a love hate relationship with banality. This is the birth and death of the painting of stock photography.

No. 3


They strip,
meaning to strip
and strip, until
there’s no more
meaning, stripped,
stripped of meaning,
stripped of all


Naming the pictorial elements within an image is a futile means to elicit meaning.



Proposing the symbolic meaning of pictorial elements is also fraught with dilemmas, even if the work provides evident clues. Why interpret ‘tradition’ rather than ‘study’, ‘art’ or ‘sustenance’? Popularly it’s said that a picture paints a thousand words. Ask a thousand people for a million words and they would be bound by a collective cultural language. You could calculate the mean from their words but not the meaning.

Words have more than one meaning. Take the German word Fruchtbarkeit. In its more literal translation, it means fruitfulness. In its more rounded form, fertility. In certain contexts, it can even mean creativity.

Isis, the Ancient Egyptian goddess, symbolises nature and is often depicted as a protector of the dead. Her fruitfulness, fertility and creativity have been interpreted and worn to the point of abstraction.

No. 4


When is a face no longer expressive?
When it’s no longer a face.

When is a face no longer a face?
When it’s a mask.

When does a mask express narrative?
When it’s no longer a mask.


A train station in M, a bus terminal in U and a basement in V. This is a short narrative based on three memorable cafe-bar experiences that refer to many other absent moments.

I turn my head and the face turns away. Although intrigued, I refrain from showing any interest. Only out the corner of my eye am I aware when the face turns back. While handsome, I decide it lacks expression.

Once pacified, my eyes return me to my thoughts. The dearth of significance in front of me is conducive: an empty coffee cup and saucer, a folded napkin, an unused spoon. The four walls around me decorated in eclectic trash concentrate my focus all the more. Self-conscious pencil studies of topless women provocatively posed – originally for the camera – are hung alongside pseudo-zen silhouettes on loud backgrounds and tight spirals painted in poor homage to abstract expressionism. My plain table provides a simplicity suggestive of anonymity and solitude. I hold the memory of the coffee cup in my hand, its bitter enticement at my mouth.

A woman walks in and orders a coffee, paying with a note and cradling the change in her palm.

The face turns away, disinterested.

Smoke rises from the table at my side. The sitter, who isn’t smoking a pipe, wears a hat and a faraway look on his face. His cigarette lies low in the ashtray, burning into the air without reason.

I can’t help but return my gaze. The face with it’s handsome lack of expression is somehow compelling. I’m transfixed; the face turns away.

The woman passes the smoke-veiled table without a glance.

The face makes a quarter turn only. It doesn’t look at me, it doesn’t look at her. I study the lines of a face that aren’t worn through age. They’re drawn through repetition. This is a modern face made to look ancient. It’s Hollywood meets Pharaoh, East meets West. The face animates once more through the same quarter turn and cuts back. It turns and returns, turns and returns, yet never reaches the horizon. The romance of the sun setting behind the pyramid remains a perpetually unfulfilled vision for the face. It’s expressionless gesture is both tragic and mesmeric.

Coin by coin, the change in the woman’s palm is paid in submission to the compulsion of the face. The slot machine activates; she plays its buttons with hunger and intent but receives nothing in return. When all the coins have fallen from her palm into the abyss, into this tombstone of consumption, she returns to the bar as the screen returns to the face. The face, a sad, sorry mask of a face.

No. 5


What is the representation of pain on a coin other than a modern-day pathetic fallacy?


there’s pain in paint, paint in pain,
and the coin of pain, enlarged yet halved,
signs depression, depression all sewn up,
the back of depression, a gesture,
a ‘blue’ gesture that ‘aint paint:

No. 6


How to be creative in three easy steps …

From View from my Studiew to View II

First consider the subject. The view from the studio provides a wealth of plain, everyday domesticity to draw upon. There are windows that mirror that which you look through. There are blinds, railings and the backs of chairs that intersect these frames. There are sections of nature that disrupt all things angular. Little need be decided: the view restricts the subject to that which you see directly. This is a beautifully contained and restrained perspective to be interpreted with muted colours.
Second consider materials and technique. Watercolours are suited to small works and are ideal for quick sketches. They give an impression of fluidity and light but require tentative and controlled use. Many amateur painters use watercolours for these reasons; their application connotes craft as much as it does art.
Plaster, in keeping with watercolour, is commonly used in craftwork and yet is equally a utilitarian material for construction. To make a plaster cast, begin by building a mould. Remember that every detail will be seen in reverse when the cast is finished. Any imperfections in the mould, such as the texture of cardboard, will also remain as a mark of the cast’s construction.
Use plaster to make control look spontaneous. Insert a set of clock hands into the plaster after it has set to add further fabrication to the artwork.
Thirdly consider function. Fine Art has no function; its beauty is to exist without purpose. Any artwork that contains functionality refutes its very being.
The artwork clock challenges its own beauty and suggests that any appeal is mere decoration. As its hands turn, the incremental yet insistent clicking of the artwork clock are critical of its very existence. That the hands don’t tell the time is telling. They have little relationship other than connotation to time. Their lack of function is all.

No. 7


Air conditioning
Astro Turf
Bottled water
Fire extinguisher
Plastic fruit
Sex doll
Teddy bear

Beyond Poor Nature

It’s cold in here. The thought of summer far below, suppressed, is suspended by the deathly wave incessant across my bare skin. We all dream of warmth, of a safe arrival, of fleeing the tight confines of our arbitrarily enforced community on this chosen flight. In seat 7B, I share my time between the obsessive-compulsive on my left and the diffident on my right. 7A twists the same length of hair repeatedly without the knowledge that she pulls directly on the symbol of her entropic self, while 7C reads from a book of Greek verse that I have no means to interpret. I close my eyes to the distress they both cause me but can’t filter the lung wrenching cough of 6A, his head bowed from the effort of being. I insert plastic into my ears to help save me from the pain of re-entry. The flight attendant meanwhile asks me if I want anything from the trolley.
“I’m sorry. I apologise for our sick and impoverished existence.”

“I’m sorry. I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch that … Could you say that again please?”