|Frontier, 2019 Oil, wax and resin on linen. 61 x 36 cm|
French fine universal primed linen, Russell & Chappell
branded stretcher, Old Holland and Michael Harding
oil paints with various mediums. Sandpaper.
I’m not in the habit of rescuing a painting. Off with
its head, out with the Stanley knife, into the bin. In
the spring of 2017 Frontier started out well and I
left it alone, almost finished before going on my
summer holiday. I constantly thought about this
painting and right royally fucked it up within an hour
of my return.
Painting, my obsession with painting and the activity
of painting pretty much fills my head and heart all day
long. When things go wrong, frequently, the results
play on my mind and nervous system, its uncomfortable
and I’m told I’m difficult to be around.
However, I’m dammed if I going to give up on it.
Some time was spent sanding back the surface and I
began again with a clean slate, one imbued with echo’s
and ghosts of previous versions.
This version of Frontier superficially resembles the
previous two, except it inhabits a different universe.
This is an important small big painting. Important
because it unlocked space, gave new permissions
and air to my practice.I’m of an age where friends and
Ffamily start dying, unfortunately. I’m thinking long and
hard about what really matters and apart from my
private life, everything comes right back to painting.
It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Frontier is a circuitous meditation on the fragility of
life, how we are held in suspension as time keeps
pushing forward and dragging us along whether we
like it or not. There’s also a passing nod to Munch
and Johns along with some crap sci-fi TV shows
from the distant past.
What pulled me through to completing the final
version of Frontier was an injection of ‘get on with it’
after a visit to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg
last winter. This museum was high on my bucket list
with its amazing collection of paintings and especially
its holdings of Matisse and Picasso, those two old
chestnuts. Going from room to room was totally
re-energizing. They contained powerful and life
affirming work, which confirmed my love and desire
for painting. Starting with Matisse’s purple decade,
Red Room (Harmony in Red) 1908, Dance 1910, Music
1910. These wonderful perceptive paintings proudly
showing their corrections. Meanwhile next door was
Mr. Picasso with bloodied axe chopping away at
painting with Dance of the Veils 1907, Dryad 1908
and Farm Woman 1908. The list goes on, never mind
the superb artists in the subsequent rooms. Francis
Bacon said, “Painting is the pattern of one’s own
nervous system being projected on canvas”. For me
these words give form to this experience.
Michael Roberts 31/12/2019
Images by Peter Abraham
I rarely have music playing whilst painting, I find it too
distracting. I do listen during the cleanup process but
mainly at home.
Albums recently around the hifi-
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
Trio Lirico: Max Reger- String Trios - Piano Quartet
Trio Lirico: Weinberg, Penderecki, Schnittke -
Edith Mathis: Selected Lider
John Ireland, A Downland Suite: Richard Hickox,
City of London Sinfonia
Marianne Faithful, Negative Capability
Doris Duke, I’m a Loser
Stan Tracy Trio with Peter King, The Last Time I Saw You
Jonathan Dove, In Damascus with the Sacconi Quartet
Feico Solo, Feico Deutekom
John Coltrane Quartet, Crescent
Talk Talk, Spirit Of Eden
Personal standout exhibitions seen in 2019-
Bridget Riley @ Hayward Gallery
Reinhard Mucha @ Sprüth Magers
Victor Willing @ Hastings Contemporary & Turps Gallery
Tal R @ Hastings Contemporary
Elizabeth Murray @ Camden Arts Centre
William Blake @ Tate Britain
Don McCullin @ Tate Britain
Lee Krasner @ Barbican
Two standout books-
Into Words. The Selected Writings of Carroll Dunham.
Fantastic take on Art by a wonderful artist.
The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay by Michael
Chabon. Just get copy and hold on for the ride, truly great