Endgame: 2020 onwards
This body of work which is the result of a process of investigation into my own studio practice, an attempt at its systematic deconstruction and a response to both a sense of moral impotence felt during the pandemic and a profound environmental existential anxiety. Confronted by the overwhelming environmental problems facing the world my former studio practice seemed vain, selfish and indulgent. What is it that my work consisted in but taking precious resources and turning them in to useless objects?
Like many people, I have over the past few years become acutely aware of the urgency of the environmental emergency and been working hard to changing the way I live. I have become increasingly aware of an uncomfortable disjuncture between the way I was trying to live my life and the way I behaved in the studio. The mantra of the former; reduce, reuse, recycle was forgotten in a frenzy of consumption justified as creativity. I wanted to repair the rift between my creative self and social self, to bring my work into alignment with my social values.
My crisis was one of meaning, honesty and a search for value. My solution was to subject my entire practice to a sort of forensic examination. I wanted to look at my practice with fresh eyes, as though it were someone else's work, to better understand it's essential properties and constituent parts. I pulled my work apart, both intellectually and physically, peeling the skins of paint from their supports and categorising them according to a basic taxonomy.
The resulting skins, fragments and traces of paint are presented sandwiched between sheets of glass like specimens. In an effort to capture and convey the spirit of dispassionate enquiry which informed my investigation I have presented them as 'findings' rather like a 19th century entomological collection. They provide a record or index of past artistic endeavours, a 'natural history' of my creative past.
'Endgame', as I call it, is the modus operandi of all currant and future creative work. I will use only those materials already available in the studio; using up, repurposing and recycling what I already have without consuming more (after over 30 years of making art, there's quite a build up). As such this process mirrors society's reflection on a consumerist past - a mea culpa for the sins of unrestrained consumption - and points to a future of aestheticised austerity. I will draw out my use of current resources for as long as possible, being as frugal as I can and when I have run out of materials I will simply stop making art.