The ‘Date’ series or rather ‘Today’ series is a collection of nearly 3000 paintings produced by artist On Kawara. Using block coloured canvases of one uniform, flat colour, Kawara documented the days in which he painted these pieces, using text to show which day he produced them, day, date and year. Some days, more than one were made and if Kawara did not finish the painting that day, meaning an overlap in dates, he would destroy the progress. For me this was the biggest aspect of his work, showing a true connection and intention in the series. After all, he could have simply kept the length of time it took to make the painting to himself, and the viewer would be none the wiser. However, through this process of destroying his work, Kawara has a clear direction in which he wants to take his work and mould it into a serious documentation of his practice and rate of production.
At first I had thought that these dates would be a specific reference to particular events, but the concept of simply capturing a day put a historical reference to the pieces, something to look back on and reflect. For Kawara this could be a reflection of his work and what draws to the foreground, and the viewer, to reflect on the days if they had been born by that time. With the use of such strong colours, Kawara creates even more of a sense of documentation, perhaps aesthetically similar to war documentation.
Looking at my own work and the titles in particular, I felt as though the title ‘A Brief Beauty’ seemed to have so much more potential in what it could be referring to. As well as the historical narrative that I had created, I felt as though this could also link to the poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell that I had previously used in the Cut Up Technique exercise. A swell as this, I thought I could also have the opportunity to create a side series of works to act as an after though to assignment four.
I have to admit even before going into talking about these pieces that I did produce these on impulse, without premeditated plans, as I have found that I enjoy a balance between planning and spontaneously painting, sometimes finding the spontaneous more naturally produced, but also more enjoyable. Thinking back to the idea of flowers, I didn’t really have a specific type in mind, and knew that I simply wanted to symbolise a flower, so that the viewer would be able to imagine which ever flower they wanted. Connecting back to the poem however, rather than my own narrative, there was a strong presence of decay, and a brief beauty could tie in well with the idea of a blooming flower that once has reached its full potential of beauty will die, decay and return to the soil waiting for the next bloom. Looking back through the course, and my tutor’s comments, there has been a sense of comfort in the work I have produced, using the things I love in order to keep some state of sanity during the Coronavirus lockdown, and using a more abstract approach to depict these things has been something I have truly enjoyed developing. With the use and influence of Marvell’s poem, I wanted to combine the decay and beauty of a flower and create a series of paintings, as I felt that the suggestion of performance or objects did not blend well with how I produce my work and paintings.
I also feel as though the experiments through part four greatly influenced these pieces that I was creating, particularly the use of quink and PVA glue, and felt that this technique would be the best to portray this kind off inevitable decay in nature. Still wanting to include flowers however I was anxious to make this clear to the viewer, not sure of how I would layer the mediums. Starting with A5 canvas boards, I used coffee as a staining technique and added a spray of crimson, blue, quink ink or coffee just to map out where the subject would sit on the canvas. Through this it was easier to determine where to roughly place the flowers in order to create a variation and possible arrangement of a bouquet. By this point I had decided on four pieces for this exercise. One area that I wasn’t sure about was whether the decay would be forming over or under the flower, and what seemed interesting was to place the decay behind, in order to create a kind of foreshadowing of events to come, biological and aesthetically. This concept of fate creeping forward was something that really took hold of me and with this I played around with PVA glue and quink ink, trying to create a general shape of a flower, dribbling down with deterioration and death. I was very pleased wit how this actually turned out as firstly it produced a layering effect, but also something a little more textured for the floral colours to sit on.
Thinking of the colours I would use, I wanted to mirror what I had chosen for the fourth assignment, using pink, blue, but also lilac as a newer addition. These colours led on from the previous assignment, but kept in the lines of this floral beauty and the ‘circle of life’. These were applied in the same way as the assignment, using a sponge which actually proved a little harder to get the diffused gentle effect as the smooth surface of the hard PVA glue disrupted the acrylics chance of attaching to the tooth and grip of the canvas surface. As said before, this idea of mapping out where the flowers would be was extremely helpful in both creating a variation, but also being able to choose which colours should go with which composition arrangement.
With the necessary addition of text, I was a little apprehensive, due to being happy with the results and didn’t want to detract from the flowers. Thinking of how I could come to my own arrangement, I chose to simply add signature like words at the bottom right corner of the pieces. In this way, I was able to use text at little disturbance to the flowers, but cunningly act as though the verbs used were signing themselves and giving themselves presence. Looking at Marvell’s poem, I decided to write ‘adore’, ‘embrace’, ‘praise’ and ‘devour’ in sepia fine liner in the corner, but looking back might have to change it in some way as I feel these verbs do not portray the message I want to give. I am pleased with the pieces but know the text needs to be changed.