Part 4, research point 1 – painters of tondos

The task suggests looking at some of the artists mentioned in the introduction to this part of the module and so I began by searching for Iain Andrews as his is the first name in the text. It sits next to an illustration of one of his pieces of work but as this is undated and has no title, it wasn’t retrievable. Other works of his seem not to be in this format but have a similar style – surrealistic images and allusions to content evidently equated with Freud’s analytic theories. Andrews is an art psychotherapist (not a psychologist as the notes suggest) which may be where he’s come across that material and so when I say that some of his work brings to mind raw bacon, I have to assume he’s aware of this, that it’s deliberate. I had a visceral reaction to his work which pulled me away from it. Polite words for feeling nauseous, I am a longstanding vegetarian.

Henny Acloque seems to riff on older art work by the likes of Breugal, seemingly picking out tarot references. Various sites describing her work use the same quote:

“..Continuing to appropriate the work of dead artists, Acloque forensically unpicks and reassembles the layers of each image she works from..

Mutual Art. Henny Acloque | Artist Profile with Bio (mutualart.com). Accessed 25 November 2020.

I’m not sure what’s meant by ‘forensically unpicking’ these appropriated works but it’s a term I’ve seen applied to many areas latterly where it usually means something like close attention to detail. I don’t know from my searches what size these are, and it’s quite hard to comment on the work because so little of it relates to the task in hand. If I’m honest, I probably wouldn’t spend too much time on it in a gallery because it seems derivative.

I’m sorry to say I found Mindy Lee’s paper plates, or the subjects of them, revolting. Like school dinners scraped and smeared by kids who found the food disgusting. Some of them contain recognisable images of people but frankly I find it hard to get past the slop.

Mark Fairnington is a photorealist, a skill that is well beyond my reach or preference for expression, but the way he has composed his Cape Hunting Dog as illustrated in the course notes has pointed me in a direction for my own work in this section. Specifically, he’s taken a detail of the dog, the eye and some surrounding fur, and presented this as though through a tube; he hasn’t miniaturised the whole dog and I think that is what turned me on to the way the tondo format could be used. Unlike any of the other formats, this one seems to invite cameo, a brief moment in an image’s life, an implication rather than a whole story, and I find that appealing.

26th October. I had forgotten in writing this that I needed to seek out other artists using this format and so I ran a search. What came back was primarily a series of OCA blog posts on this topic and a Pinterest page, the overwhelming impression being that, on the whole, circular supports tend to be used for abstract, drip, dribble, flood, stir, spinning, and other somewhat random methods of applying paint. Marc Quin, though, is pictured in his studio with an enormous eye, and a massive map of the Americas superimposed on what looks like the iris of an eye. These remind me of attempts to depict the universe, sometimes as an oddly elliptical shape, sometimes as a circle, which is what happens when something three dimensional is flattened into a two dimensional representation. They always have boundaries too which raises the question – what’s outside those perimeters? If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? Not a topic necessarily for this exercise but a thought about how the format might be used to consider these fundamental questions.

I can’t help thinking that supports sitting outside the conventional angular format must be at one level wasteful – all those shaved off corners of material – and at another difficult to source and to present. Even the work of embroiderers, framed by those wooden hoops as they’re being made, seemed to end up in angular displays. My gran tried to introduce me to the sampler but gave up when faced with the challenge of backstitch with a left hander!

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