Sunday, 9 December 2012

Proud Pots, Paintings and Prints


- Rima Farah : Definitions at Dar d’Art, Tangier 2012 -

I grew up with Rima Farah.  Not literally for we aren’t nurtured of the same soil and we weren’t student fellows, but as young artists we shared the post-art-college years of hope and struggle, we shared our first studios.  Together she and I formed a business and over 20 years we collaborated on hundreds of prints and paintings.  We exhibited all over in all sorts of guises; at fairs, corporate shindigs, in lobbies and galleries; we had dozens of showings in London, Europe, Japan, the USA, and across the Middle East.  That ended in 2000 and in the years since our work and lives have spiraled apart, touching here and there, occluding and eclipsing and colliding.  

Definitions, is Rima Farah’s first major exhibition since Dubai in 2003.  It has been a long time in the careful maturing and her path has brought her to sufism, calligraphic complexities, paintings on ceramics, and in the while to establishing herself in Tangier.  

I must refrain from attempted critique as my history with Rima compromises any objective view of the artist’s new work, but I do have insight to the backstories.  I know the moves, her exhibition routine, for her moves and mine are born of our moves together.  I know well the pre-exhibition busyness of mustering finance, timing, of the printing, framing, photography, transportation, of hanging and pricing; and preparing spiel for the catalogue, for online, the invite, the press and gallery’s pet clients; a different spiel for friends and yet different again for artist colleagues and rivals.  Executing the tasks seems endless, like that list, exasperating and there’s an opening deadline and post-exhibition party to arrange, success to prepare for, and a brave face put in reserve for disaster.  
Exhibiting is an intrinsic part of an artist’s job, if a job artist be, yet exhibitions are infrequent and an entirely different activity to the seclusion of studio working.  Exhibitions need rarely used and unpracticed skills of personal presentation.  The work is given public chance to speak, but the artist in public has to be looking good, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to glad-hand all comers with the real right words ready pat on demand.  Every detail matters; of looking good, hair, teeth, face, wardrobe and shoes; an exhibition is a performance, an act of not seeming anxious or tired even while you are fraught and stressed.  
Exhibitions are the artist's main chance and chance plays the hugest part in the success of any exhibition.  
I opened one that coincided with an outbreak of Gulf hostilities, Rima and I contended with an earthquake in Cairo, and this summer in a tempt of fate I launched a show the night of the Olympic Opening Ceremony which worked surprisingly well.  Unwittingly competing for attention with Gulf War 2 was haplessly grotesque.  
The artist cannot second guess events but you can curse your luck.  

Definitions opened to thunderous rain which added to the drama and dampened a fine opening attendance.  Rain didn’t stop the professionals, the press and TV crew, and it didn’t stop the success, or the party.  The artist cannot second guess either people, or the elements. 

KevinJackson  KevinJackson   Farah.Jackson

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


- OLD HOUSE NEW ART, IZMIR, OCTOBER 2012 - a seven day meeting and old-style-symposium drinking-party-whirl of new places and new faces.  Artists as symposiasts is new one on me and we are 20 strong.  In the main Turkish artists, from Izmir and flying in from Ankara and Istanbul and Canada.  We have a Dane, two Italians; twin sisters, one a painter the other sculpting; an Austrian, a Georgian and a German.  I'm the token Brit and for any painting contributions I might make, this is a new working time frame.  
My work takes longer than days, my creative processing is slower taking months in gestation, sometimes years, and as often months more in the making.  Producing several paintings in a week is unbelievably fast and only the dynamism generated by being amongst artists working together at fever-pace could allow me such profligacy.  
I am without the full and reassuringly complicated facilities that my studio affords, without privacy, and with no time to contemplate, to experiment or to fail.  
One of 20 crowded cheek by jowl into a beautiful old house ripe for renovation though please not for destruction and redevelopment, my allocated spot, the first floor lobby landing, is a thoroughfare and a meeting place.  So, I painted in public in the transience of a crossroad or intersection and almost without knowing it, crosswise, çapraz became the theme and titles for 5 of the seven paintings I tried in the week.  The other two, Sweet Miasma I & II, worked up while I made many new art-making friends making New Art in the Old House and enjoyed the boundless generous hospitality of our Turkish hosts. 

Izmir 2012
video by Oliver Feistmantl.... and a lot of friends who helped us to make this possible,...


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

PLAIN COVER and The Occasional Small Etching

Mickey's Birds

Printmaking is a contrived and calculating way of picture making. It's guarded by mystery, masteries, and the mystiques of arcane almost alchemical processes and newly by clever software little understood by the artist practitioner.
I no more understand the science-art of viscosity resist printing Hayter-style than Photoshop, yet I work with both.
Etching, copperplate intaglio printmaking, is a dirty business of stop-out varnish and turpentine, meths and resin, ferric chloride and noir taille douce, oils and solvents and cleaners; those heady vapours; of grime, dust, and the poison of it all in today's safety-first expectations and health consciousness.
Acid and ink mar hands. Greyly intaglio finger prints mark me out a social pariah, a one who works in dirt, a user of hands not head, an apron-wearer, a copperplate printer, an artist with a trade so not a real artist at all.
Though no less contrived and calculating for all the sit down conveniences of the digital revolution, making prints is a cleaner dirty business now. Cleanly made print-fare for us clean viewing kindle-kinder, clean bar the spittle spray of frustration, the nail bitten repetitive strains and screen blinded, buttock weariness.
Printmaking is a publishing affair, one of promotion, production, distribution, and percentages, and still dirty enough in process and association to attest to the effort. Style is half about getting decorously grubby mixing it and doing a thing. And simply caring.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


IN September (2011) 9 members of the group PRAXIS initiated a collage each. We mailed our piece to the group member east of our location who added to the work and sent it east again for the next contribution.
The 9 collages circumnavigated the globe returning to the originator who completes the work and will post it to Berkeley CA for exhibition. PRAXIS is one of several 'Round Table Collaboration' groups whose collage-works will be on show in February.

Collage is cutting and pasting with scalpel and glue, scissors, and fiddly little bits of paper and not at all the cut-and-paste we've become accustomed to on our computers. In exasperation no doubt, some of us resorted to painting and why not?

RHINOT : Niki Hare
. . . following Marty McCutcheon's The Spindle of Necessity, and further contributions from, Daniel McKeon, W.T.Richards and Ian Stopforth. The other four of the PRAXIS group in eastwards order, myself, Mike Hinc, Cora de Lang, and Pennie Steele, subsequently made contributions and we wait for the exhibition to see how Marty completes his collage.

At least one of our completed collages has arrived in Berkeley, and mine, in 3 parts from a last huzzah of scalpel frenzy, is seen below on its last transit to destination.


Thanks-Gods-for-that I'd thought as I finished my piece. I thought that again after I photographed and packaged, put up online, and once more when I had queued up and finally mailed the packet.
TsGsforTHAT, although it's not over. Next there is the showing and attendant documentation and promotion - in some sense the 'real work' starts now.
Each collage has had 10 manifestations. The initiator's, who also concludes the work (2), and each group member's take (+8 = 10). 9 pieces will be the outcome and the 9 have 90 manifestations in total. There might be slide-shows and videos marking the progress of each piece.
Some of the works held up quite well to the process, others amalgamated, separated, and transformed utterly developing into mutli-panel spreads. At times, some were reduced to over-layered homogenous muddles. All transcend the method and the sum of the parts.
I have a new insight into my online Praxian friends. I know their work in the virtual world and through this project have seen passing it under my hands with collage after collage.
In the transition from virtual to real not all of the insight has been easy. Some of my group were slow or backed the pieces into pairs. Some tried too hard, others sought to dominate by their contributions, and some seemed to crave nurturing. I probably annoyed them in turn. Online, It is so simple to ignore these factors. Judging by their input to PRAXIS and other social and art networks, some use the virtual world as a central plank in their operation as artists.
And none of the above is 'bad'. We were not actors in a company, or musicians, none of us are performing artists. All of us function solo and artists are meant to try hard, to dominate the work with their ideas, and we all need and can give a bit of nurturing, it's just that when you collaborate creatively a lot of shit skims to the surface.