Sunday, March 4, 2012

Brett Whiteley tangled up in blue

.

Harry Kent, Whiteley tangled up in blue
oil on paper, 30x42cm



"I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on

like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue."

                            Bob Dylan, Tangled Up In Blue




























This is a series of 16 monoprints in oil on  29.5x42cm A3 Canson Oil Sketch 290gsm paper.

Although i call it monoprinting, actually sixteen impressions were made from a single image painted by brush onto plastic sheet. Impressions were taken by hand using an linoprint roller. Therefore pressures were inconsistent from one print to the next. I regarded that as a plus rather than a minus for it introduced some random vagaries that stopped the whole exercise simply becoming mechanical.

They are intended to viewed as a single work that traces the fading of image from heavy impasto  until only a ghost remains. If ever exhibited, they would be hung beside each other in a horizontal run along a wall at face height. Or maybe in 4 x 4 grid 118 x 168 cm as a single work.



Not so visible in photographs is the Viridian of the shadow side of the figure's face. However, it virtually spent by the 6th printing.

The dominant colours however are Ultramarine and Prussian Blue contrasting with the red-orange of the figure's hair. Brett Whiteley had red hair in real life though the colour has now taken on symbolic overtones for me. In my iconography his red hair repersents his passion and creative fire. Ultramarine is Brett's wild blue yonder where all things are possible while Prussian Blue is the darkness in his soul.

As the series advances the fire is gradually extinguished and darkness subsumes the figure.

As i worked, i also had my earlier drawing Brett Whiteley fades away in mind which was a response to a critic's comment:
"there is something unsettling in the way the BWS [Brett Whiteley Studio] is part gallery and part shrine to the memory of man who was once vital, and then faded away."

You can read the resulting discussion here.

.

.

10 comments:

  1. Hello Harry,
    This is a great series; dramatic, it sincerely and effectively tells Brett's sad tale. Hard to believe it's so compelling yet created by the whims of the hand-operated roller.
    I guess the best compliment would be to say that, in my opinion, Brett would be proud of what you've done here in telling his story.
    And Harry, if you don't already have your second or third or fourth Master's Degree in Expressive Mark Making in Portraiture, you will now!
    Congratulations on more spectacular art!
    Sincerely,
    Gary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary, you are such a tonic! Thanks so much, friend.

      I have so many misgivings about this BrettWhiteley series. I mean, who am i to be making art about BW?

      Yet i feel drawn, compelled even, to press on. I know i'm on thin ice. So your calls of encouragement give me heart to venture further. To riskier places.

      Delete
  2. Tangled up in blue and red and white, such wonderful images, Harry. Brett whitely lives again under your fingers and touch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elizabeth. Esp appreciated coming from a fellow Aussie who knows the significance of Brett Whiteley as part of their own cultural heritage.

      Delete
  3. Going, going, gone. As we all will be someday. Great post, Harry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Rhonda, as i work on the Brett material i am very conscious of the fragility of it all, the wonder that any of us leave any mark at all.

      Delete
  4. Looking at these in reverse order says you're bringing Brett Whiteley back and, in a way, that's what you're really doing--refusing to let him fade. Always wonderful work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely way of looking at it, Hallie. Thanks so much.

      Delete
  5. This is great Harry, we all will fade away, leaving little spots of light and silent echoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Monica, so relevant to this work. Thanks.

      Delete