A couple of important events for next year are being planned as I write .
One of which is a live performance piece with David Rhodes (Peter Gabriels’ long time guitarist) to be held in Aachen in Germany as part of their ‘Across the Borders’ Festival . This will take the form of a live painting performance which will be projected across the floors , walls and ceilings of the Ludwig Forum in Aachen with David’s haunting and strange guitar sounds – we will ‘play’ off each other as colours immerse the room . It will be like being inside one of my paintings .
It seems appropiate to perform this with David as I introduced him to Peter over 30 years ago . I will also be having a large exhibition at the 2012 ‘Across the Borders’ Festival there and this one will be on the theme of European Identity . More details to follow …………
I’m currently dipping into into the coverage of the Commonwealth Games as much as I can in order that a few ideas might germinate . I was meant to be there getting reference for the Bath Museum project but the Arts Council refused me a travel grant , so no deal . Could be a blessing in disguise , not sure , as the photographers tend to be herded into media pens like sheep . The TV crews are given the special access as they are paying for it but for someone like myself who is looking for something different , it can be very frustrating . Consequently, it has made this project a far harder proposition than I thought and it means countless visits to sports events,games,gyms,church halls, leisure centers – you name it, I have been there . I can’t deny that it has been a struggle to get the feel of what I’m after – but slowly I think I may be progressing, though on a bad day I can easily contradict that !
I will be showing back at Art London for the first time for a few years in October in Chelsea, with Waterhouse and Dodd . Also working on a possible major project but more news soon when or if I will have the green light, as they say . Otherwise the Olympics themed show is coming along with several small works and three large ones already finished .
Back to Liverpool at the weekend to catch the first Liverpool game of the season at Anfield . Last time it was against Arsenal as a birthday surprise , and we lost – expecting an emphatic win this time please. I’m going with my son and we hope to have a short tour of Liverpool centre whilst we are there , no doubt taking in the new mega shopping experience .
The first painting in the sports series is coming along fine ( rowers)- had a breakthrough weekend when things clicked together , and I also came up with the exhibition title which is something that was eluding me as well . That’s the never ending fascination of art – just when you think all is lost something unexpected can happen and a painting can morph from a potential disaster to a success . I have often wondered if photographers ever have that feeling or the artists who use fabricators – they mustn’t ever get that feeling of working through something – its a very hands on experience that I know painters will understand all too well.
I’m now immersed in my ‘sports project’ which will be at the Victoria Art Gallery and Museum in Bath , but not until 2012 at the time of the Olympics. I’ve had a few false starts and I admit its not been easy but gradually there are cracks of light appearing. Continuing my reference which, so far, has taken in rowing , weight-lifting and swimming , I’m off to Crystal Palace for the next few days for the major Aviva athletics meeting . Checking the weather out , I think I’m in for a downpour – but hey, its August in England , what do you expect ? I have media accreditation and access but I just hope I can get close enough to the action – although my approach to this show is quite oblique , I still need to have first hand experience of this world I have entered and getting close to everything does seem to be a problem . Its a challenge and its taking me out of my comfort zone which is what I hoped .
Back into the UK after an Italian excursion from a 3 day party in Sardinia to the casa in Umbria . Scorching temps but the rock pools were still high at the house so we could all go swimming to cool off . Sardinia was wonderful but like a strange balloon in a cocoon so I won’t even attempt to describe the somewhat hedonistic time we spent there as it would sound like I was making it up .!
The New Ashgate show has now started with very good reactions , and Art Hamptons NY is about to start on Friday and I’m busy organising models and reference material for a large museum exhibition for 2012. Seems a long way off but this one is not easy . So I have decided to take some time off now both here and in Sardinia and then Umbria in preparation for a major work period starting August . It seems an apt time to recharge batteries – I have had back to back exhibitions now for over three years , and you need to stand back once in a while and take stock .
I have been working on the small oil on canvas paintings for the past few months and now I feel I’m getting ‘beyond the surface image’ and really getting something out of these. At the moment I can’t think of doing anything else but that is the way of immersion – it has to be myopic , shut out the rest of the stuff. Next stop is to move up a gear or two . These do feel like a strange hybrid between oil and watercolour . Being water based , the oil can be manipulated into whatever you want it to do but I can well understand some artists having a problem with these paints if you are not used to their qualities.
Currently finishing off new work to be shown at a solo exhibition and film showing at the New Ashgate in Farnham . July 3rd to 31st. If anyone would be interested in the showing of the film and the Q&A session that follows it then please phone the gallery for details – 01252 713 208 . The reception evening is on July 2nd – with the film being shown at 7.30 pm . Quite a few new paintings on show as well as work books and small new oil paintings. This is a slightly different type of show , far less structured than previous ones – more akin to walking into my studio albeit a neater version !
A bit slack of late with updates but I have been busy . I’m experimenting big time and working on canvas for the first time in 20 years ! And its oil or should I say , or should I say water based oil on canvas . And I’m really into it – more soon , back to the studio…….
These seem to times of catching up with friends – last night it was the turn of Peter Gabriel performing at the 02 . Splendid evening and Peter was on top form for a man of his age ! I don’t think I’ve heard his voice so strong . Peter decided to hire a boat to take us all back along the river to the Chelsea Embankment so that was a treat in itself – meeting up again with everyone at Real World . Also on board were Elbow who I didn’t manage to talk to which was a shame as their record must be one I play the most whilst working in the studio. The funny thing was we all had to leave the concert before the very final song in order to get on the boat . Peter then did a mad dash after his final bow to get onboard . This was all because of the tides on the Thames . The tide was rising and we had to leave as soon as possible otherwise we wouldn’t get under Westminster Bridge . In the event I think we cleared it by 20 centimetres ! I imagine that most the audience were thinking that there was a laid back backstage party going on as they filed out – unknown to them was this dash to get the boat alongside the 02.
Great poem in the Times yesterday from my friend Roger McGough –
‘ Forgive me if I do not understand many of your poems. In fact , any of them . For I am told on good authority, that they achieve ”the rich complexityof reality” and that you are a poet ”of luminous curiosity, confident in melding myth with redemptive ambiguity” . The fault then must surely lie with me. For I lack the confidence and curiosity to clamber over the wire fence surrounding your complex actuality. Without a torch , I would lose my way, and in the melding myth of the compound risk being torn to pieces by Cerberus, or falling into the pit of redemptive ambiguity. Forgive me . ‘
Brilliant stuff – he adds that ”There are poems published , much lauded by critics, that leave me cold. I used to feel guilty about not sharing their enthusiasm, but no longer”
I have the same feelings but also towards popular culture . I shall never get the X Factor for instance . The singers all sound fake and the music comprise of non tunes – I just don’t get the popularity of it . Also , and I’m a real lone voice on this one, and this almost amounts to an act of heresy – another one I don’t get is Bansky . To me it looks like polite ‘middle class’ illustration produced by someone who is very knowing and savvy . Everyone tells me how radical it is but they end up buying the prints in their millions . They all hang them on their walls as if its an act of dangerous rebellion – very street. I did however like the title of his film -‘Exit through the Gift Shop’ – says it all really . But as I said I’m a lone wolf on this – everyone I know seems to disagree with me !
Hot on the heels of Maastrict will be a solo show of about 20 paintings at the forthcoming Utrecht art fair – see news and exhibitions . I ‘m also really busy in the studio on several new paintings which will have a debut at the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham in July , where I’m doing a Q&A around the showing of ‘Falling Between the Floorboards’ . I have also entered the film for the Amsterdam Documentary Film festival – any news will be posted here . Many more projects and shows are in the pipeline – difficult to know what will happen and what won’t at this stage . Oh, and also a large painting of mine will be on an ‘Escape to the Country’ TV programme coming soon .
From this coming Monday I shall be exhibiting some new paintings at the Maastrict Art Fair (TEFAF) until the 21st . My work can found at the Frans Jacobs Gallerie stand opposite Haunch of Venison Gallery .
Back to Italy soon , open up the house after a long winter and disturb the resident spiders of their habitat. It will be good to see it again . I seem to have spent the past couple of weeks being a travel agent as there are so many trips over the next 6 months . A big one over the summer will be a friends (rock star friend) 60th birthday party in Sardinia, then a ferry crossing to the mainland to meet up with other friends , a short trip to Tarquinia and then onto the house, and then a few nights spent at the Perugia jazz festival , hopefully to see Leonard Cohen. Then a bit later on in the year I’m planning to get to Delhi to get a ton of reference for a new major project . But more on that later.
It’s the last week of the London exhibition – several pleasing comments from collectors and supporters , always welcome . In fact any feedback is good ! The past week has been strange if not dramatic as I suddenly developed an abscess in a back tooth and I have never in my life suffered such intense pain . I was crawling up the walls , wow, if anyone has had it they know what I mean . The only way I could smother the pain was to sip cold water , which might be contrary to the usual ‘hot or cold liquids’ line . But it meant I had to sip it at thirty second intervals all day and all night . This was exhausting , I was done in .
So tomorrow I sadly have to have the tooth out . My dentist used to buy my work to hang in his clinic and often we would swap treatments for paintings – unfortunately that arrangement ended a while ago but he’s got some notable ones in his collection .
I once was invited , in my early days as a painter, to do another swap deal with the notorious and legendary Peter Langham when he was setting up his large Brasserie off Piccadilly . I remember that Hockney did the menu, Antony Caro made a sculpture cheese trolley and I was amongst a handful of artist making large paintings for the walls . The idea was we would all eat off the cost of the works . After a short while Peter sold mine to a German Collector , I remember he sprayed champagne over a large Patrick Procter and no doubt others has similiar fates bestowed upon them . I remember other stories of him getting on his hands and knees when really drunk and going under the tables of pretty girls in the restaurant and giving them somewhat of a surprise – to put it mildly .
Reactions to the ‘Sleepers’ show have been great – the best I have had for a long time . I must admit when I walked into the gallery to see them hung last week I was struck by the energy of the show . I wasn’t expecting that at all as i thought they may come across as slightly sombre, in that twilight world that I was after , but in fact the opposite was true . We also had the busiest opening I think I have had for a very long time , it seemed full the minute the doors opened . So, a good start ….
‘Sleepers’ is starting next week and I’m looking forward to seeing the works framed up . Initial reactions to the show are very encouraging , and that goes for the film as well . Positive all round . I read somewhere once that an actor knows if his performance is good or not when friends call round his dressing room after a show . If they say ‘ and how was it for you?’ then he knows its a bummer . I guess the same goes for artists – you dread the word ‘interesting’ or ‘ I like the frames’ or ‘the space is good, isn’t it ?’ ! Next week will reveal all but I’m feeling ok about this one .
‘Sleepers’ will start in two weeks at Waterhouse and Dodd , 26 Cork St , Lodon W1
Part 1 of Falling Between the Floorboards is now on You Tube – under ‘Graham Dean’ . It is a 5 minute segment.
The London Art Fair has now opened with a good showing of my new work at Waterhouse and Dodd. In a way its a preview for the upcoming solo show at the gallery and the reactions on the opening night were excellent . I found the Fair, though, a little duller than previous years with a few exceptions including the vibrant Art projects space . I think they need to give more space in the future to galleries like these and this way they can capture the vitality of the Zoo Art Fair and others of that ilk. The main hall was just too full of galleries with the same old stuff that we have all seen a hundred times at previous London Art Fairs . I also noticed an increase in galleries with Modern works as opposed to Contemporary – this is a worrying trend and not good for the Fairs longevity.
Jan 1st 2010
Happy new year to everyone – judging by the e mails I’m getting most people are very glad to see the back of 2009 .
Last night, suffering the effects of colds, we decided to limit our celebrations to 15 minutes on the beach at midnight . It was quite magical , the sea was calm , there was a full ‘Blue’ moon and the colours of the sea and sky were of several shades of blue grey – bright enough to see the horizon . There were hundreds of people about , lighting fireworks, toasting the new year with anything in a bottle but best of all were the lantern lights which have suddenly become really popular . These are the ones that you light and the heat makes them literally take off to great heights. This army of yellow burning fires in the sky came over constantly from Brighton towards the beach and then they drifted off over the sea – a whole sky of these yellow dots . It looked amazing and strangely spiritual . Couldn’t quite explain why but there something very magical about the whole experience.