Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Harry Kent art on Youtube


Last week i chanced across a Youtube clip of my work at !

Seems Dmitry Dreizin, using his immense musical knowledge, aptly set my work from Saatchi Online to music, and unbeknownst to me posted it on the web late last year.

Needless-to-say i was excited to discover it and am delighted with the showcase of my work at Saatchi that Dmitry has put together.

I did so enjoy my visit to the Saatchi Gallery, London, last year. The exhibition space was astonishing and the work on exhibition totally stunning.

Saatchi Gallery, London
Saatchi Gallery, London

So i'm delighted to even have this minor and distant artistic connection to the Saatchi name.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brett Whiteley's autopsy


Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's autopsy, charcoal & acrylic on paper, 59x42cm

“A large incision was made and the scalp peeled back to reveal the top of the skull, which was then opened up with a saw, disclosing the brain ... the brain was taken and placed in  formalin so that, after a period of time during which the tissues solidified, it could be sectioned and examined. There were no scalp, skull or brain injuries or diseases”.  Hilton, M & Blundell, G, 1996, Whiteley: an unauthorised life, Macmillan pp. 238-9.

As you know, I had made Brett's hair a motif in many of the drawings and paintings in this Whiteley series.

I had gotten to know the angle of his nose, its bridge and bulbous end, his straight mouth and cleft chin. My acquaintance had become somehow intimate and personal.
Then i read that they desecrated his corpse, that they peeled back his scalp, that they sundered the curly hair he was so proud of. That they pickled his brain.

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's autopsy, acrylic on paper, 170x156cm

My intial shocked response drew a few quick charcoal/acrylic drawings.

Then i set to work with a floor mop to paint a large image (above).

I wanted to bash and splash.

I combed - literally, with a wide tooth comb - through his brain where his hair should been.

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's autopsy (detail)

The work that followed (below) turned out as a rather adolescent piece of kitsch. But it started out as an experiment in process. I was searching for some way to conveying the sense of perpetrated violence. 

So  I took the piece round to a friend who owns a farming property and used the opportunity to 'paint' with a shotgun. I thought that by painting an image onto board and then blasting it from behind with a shotgun i might achieve an outplosion of splinters and shards.  These could then be fix into place on the scene with polymer gloss and, all going well, a dynamic piece taken home. 

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's brain, mixed media on board, 46x66x24cm

I had embedded red and blue party balloons, each containing small quantities of red paint, into a mix of plaster, PVA glue, and cotton threads ... hoping that shards of plaster and shreds of balloon would end up dangling from the gun wound. I also hoped that the outward explosion of paint would register and be read by the viewer for the violent painting event that gave it life.

However, all didn't go well. The agency of media asserted itself, this time against my intentions. The board did not consist of splintery timber but was a 20mm thick piece of flooring particle board i had happened to have at hand. The result was that three shots from a 20 gauge firing 6 shot at 25 meters simply blew a hole through it. It punctured balloons but not explosively. The plaster was too brittle and simply blew away. I returned home with a failed experiment.

But i wanted to keep learning from what i had at hand and so i filled the blast hole with red and purple waterbomb balloons, allowing them to protrude as a cluster of organic lobes. I contrasted the tenderness and fragility of balloons with sharp-edged steel medical instruments.  I framed the piece in polished 0.8mm aluminium sheet, searching for a contrast between the 'organic' and the metallic, between the 'human' and 'medical'. But I lacked the tools and technique for cleanly cutting out a rectangle in sheet metal without distortion.

This small work was meant to be a pilot for a larger work of 90x120 cm. But i became too dispirited to continue and all my painting simply ground to a halt. My blogging lapsed into muteness. For many weeks now.

During which time i have survived a car collision in tact (a young man drove through a red light at speed, flashed across the front of me, i hit the anchors but still nudged him and spun him round while he ripped off my front fender).

To top it off this blog was declared public enemy number one by Google. Since end of June web searches that turned up were told by Google that "This site may harm your computer or damage your mind" or some such. Seems their crawler didn't like a linked image of Bob Dylan, now removed. Western civilisation is once again safe.

So what next? I don't know. I have images in my head but can't face my studio. I think i'm just wearied by the whole academic process of painting for assessment. I have come to believe that painting belongs in art schools, not universities. Painting belongs to practitioners, not academics. Let universities research and teach art history, art theory and art criticism, but let art schools and artist communities teach the praxis.

I enjoyed the first couple of years of my Masters course when i was energised by the whole adventure of painting and free to explore the world of portraiture. But now i face my final semester. There are papers to be written, formal critiques to be presented. The adventure and lightness is gone, replaced by the grimness of assessment.

I am sick of being judged. 

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