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Introductory remarks

This exhibition was made up of three parts. In the first room there was an exhibition of preparatory drawings by Mainie Jellett dating from the 1920s. This can be seen in the 'Form and History' section of this website, here.

The second was a series of paintings based on the traditional iconography of the Orthodox Church. Most of these, with an account of the thinking behind them, can be seen on my earlier website here.

The third was a series of non-representational paintings claiming, justifiably or not, allegiance to the school of Albert Gleizes.

In the introduction to my previous exhibition, which can be seen at the earlier website here, I mentioned my teacher Genevieve Dalban's proposal for a course of three years - one for 'translation', one for 'rotation', one for 'rhythm' - and I said I thought that even that was perhaps too fast. It all depends of course on the amount of time one can give to the work. By 'translation' is here meant an emphasis on the stability/verticality of the picture plane, hence an emphasis on the vertical and horizontal. By 'rotation' is meant primarily rotation as it is understood in Painting and its laws*, the inclination of the plane to right and left which prepare the transition from the organisation of space (proportion/colour harmony) to the entry into time - mobility of the eye - which, in Gleizes's later thought (L'Homme devenu peintre**) is principally a matter of line and arabesque, of a radically different nature from the plane. I suspect this is what Geneviève may have turned to in her third year, on 'rhythm'.

* Albert Gleizes: La Peinture et ses Lois, ce qui devait sortir du Cubisme, Paris 1924 and in La Vie des Lettres et des Arts, vol xii, n° 5, nd [1922 or 3]. English translation, Painting and Its Laws, Francis Boutle publishers, London, 2000.

** Albert Gleizes: L’homme devenu peintre, Fondation Albert Gleizes/SOMOGY éditions d’art, Paris, 1998. The book was written in 1948. I have translated it and hope to post it on this website some time in the near future.

My first exhibition concentrated on translation in its most elementary stage, the vertical and the horizontal, including a number of paintings closely related to the symmerical arrangement of rectangles in the very first of the diagrams in Painting and its laws:

My second exhibition is based on the inclination of the planes to the right and to the left - rotation as understood in Painting and its laws but not in L'Homme devenu peintre. It can be seen as the result of an experiment that failed - and perhaps deserved to fail, since I was cheating.

Gleizes argued that this stage of the exploration of the picture plane had been pioneered in the paintings of Juan Gris and Jean Metzinger done during the 1914-19 war (the British prolonged the war in Europe to 1919 through the blockade of Germany). Examples from Gleizes's book Kubismus, published in 1928, can be seen in my introductory remarks to the Mainie Jellett drawings here. I had the idea of taking some of these paintings as a base and reworking them, stripping out the purely figurative elements and developing what was left, possibly travelling quite far from the original. In the event, I was disappointed in the elements I found that might have been capable of development but I'm perfectly willing to see this as a failure on my part, not in the original. 

Gouache based on a still life by Metzinger, 1917-18

To my surprise, I found I had much more success with some paintings by André Lhote:

I was further intrigued by the fact that a horizontal 'landscape' format seemed to work better that the vertical 'portrait' one I had used for the first exhibition.

Alex Mittelmann has made the interesting suggestion that perhaps "the constructions of Lhote are more interesting to work with because of the more random nature of their structural lines (see Le pot rouge, 1917). They seem to lack elements of symmetry associated with Metzinger's work, and to a lesser extent Gris'. Though Lhote's 1917 Rugby appears quite symmetric at first glance."

Actually the Lhote 1917 Footballers, part of the overall wartime tendency Gleizes admired, was the first Lhote I attempted and it didn't work. I'm inclined to the view that the Metzingers and Gris - at least in my versions - remained too obviously an organisation of superimposed shapes/planes disposed in a rather arbitrary way so that they retained their autonomy and did not sacrifice themselves to the overall movement.

In addition to the Cubist variations there were three paintings based on works by William Blake. In 2015 I had a Blake calendar hanging on my kitchen wall and I was intrigued by how they looked when I wasn't wearing my glasses. It seemed to me that there was a power in some (not all) of them independent of the obviously powerful symbolic/figurative image. The use of colour and of a limited number of parallel line with a play between vertical and horizontal in my versions owe something to Gleizes but they lack the interactions of the parts making up the ultimately circular simple construction  that is the great discovery of Cubism.