|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley 7, ink on paper, 59 x 42 cm|
I have started work on a series of paintings and drawings exploring my personal response to that great Australian artist, Brett Whiteley.
In July 2010 I posted a blog in memory of Brett Whiteley. Now that I had had visitors to this blog from 121 countries i thought that this was an excellent opportunity to introduce the amazing Brett to bloggers around the world who may not have heard of him.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley 1, ink on paper, 59 x 42 cm|
I've commenced my excursion into Brett Whiteley using ink and paper. These are preliminary drawings to get me thinking visually about Brett prior to commencing a series of oil paintings. For paper i am using a cheap 110gsm acid free cartridge paper. If these sketches start to show any promise, i may switch to rice paper, Arches or Fabriano. For now, i feel i have total liberty and feel dubious about even showing these early explorations in this blog. But hey, we are all visual artists and like to see work in progress.
|Harry Kent, Brett at the Opera House, ink on paper, 59x42cm|
go to here
Why ink? It was a medium he used often. Brett described pen and ink as,
"The great unalterable
like sensitive harmonicas
that die of a broken heart
pens love the test of violation".
Yes, the great unalterable. I love that ink is permanent. There is no fiddling. It's a 'one-chance' sort of mark-making. It is like a sword thrust - either a palpable hit or a miss.
As a Zen saying has it,
"When you walk, walk.
When you sit, sit.
Above all, don't wobble".
I love that there is no pre-drawing with a pencil. There is no safety net. ("Have you ever seen a pencil drawing that wasn't safe?", he once asked in a notebook). All my 'errors' are in plain sight. Yet the accumulation of errors can sometimes be so telling, somes so beautiful in their own way.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley opens up, |
ink and charcoal on paper, 59x42 cm
These sketches were made using a reed pen that i made for myself from rushes growing by the Tamar River. I also used a goat hair Japanese calligraphy brush to help me get in touch with Brett. He so loved to work with Japanese brushes in the spirit of Zen.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley, Antipodean Explorer, |
ink on paper, 59 x 42 cm
In the series i am now embarking upon i don't claim to produce portrait likenesses of Brett Whiteley. Does that matter? (See my discussion of portraiture and likeness here). These works will not be painted from life. They will, in part, be inspired by photos of the man. Does that matter? (See my discussion of portrait painting derived from photography here). These works aim to be expressive. They will be works of my imagination rather than likenesses. They represent what Brettness means to me, what it fires in my own imagination.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley blue, |
ink and pastel on paper, 59x42cm
Initially they will be inspired by his art and by his writing. Ultimately, the images will derive solely from my imagination without reference to anything he has done or any image made of him.
They will be about his fate. They will be about suffering, and courage, and the triumph of creative genius over all that binds the human spirit.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's Crown of Thorns, |
ink on paper, 59x42 cm. go to here
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley in the storm, |
ink and chalk on paper, 59x42cm. go to here
In essence, i am using photos of him and his journals and biographical information to construct my own 'Brett'. To those who knew him well, my construction may be way off the mark.
Which is all beside the point.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley Shipwrecked, |
ink on paper, 59x42cm. go to here
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley contemplates old age,|
pen on paper, 27x23cm. go to here
See too my most recent Whiteley ink Apparitions, like the one below, HERE.
|Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's apparition #4, ink on paper, 56x76cm.|
For me, the notion of Brett represents something about Australia, about painting, about artists, about critics, about life, love, suffering and celebration, and the questing of the human spirit.
My 'Brett' is a symbol, an icon, a talisman. And in this series i am working out for myself just what that talisman means ... with an audience looking on.