3 birds 三只鸟

Scotland_edited_edited.jpg

2020

50cms (W) x 60cms (H)

Oil on Panel

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I was asked at a recent exhibition whether I saw myself as moving away from doing more 'realism' to more abstract as that is what a lot of artists tend to do as they mature. Now I know that there are day old suckling goats that are more mature than I, but I thought that it was a reasonably interesting answer when I replied that I was actually interested in doing something similar to photography for a while. Not photo-realism (where the effort is in making something almost unmistakeable for a photograph) but the act in photography of capturing a moment. I live in the middle of a fast moving, cosmopolitan city that is changing all the time. Old, double storey neighborhoods are routinely closed down and replaced by new (usually tall) buildings as the city modernises. While undoubtedly there are lots of benefits to this change, there are a few things that are lost and I wanted to capture in a series of pictures like this one, which is a composite of things i've seen as I walk around the city peering into the alleyways (lanes) that shoot off the main roads.


The first was a sense of intimacy. It's very common to see people drying clothes outside, brushing teeth in the street, even very occasionally showering. Some people wash dishes, food and clothes outside, even bringing little stoves or chairs and tables to eat. Many people bring seats outside and just chat or exercise outside. The three women here are just doing normal stuff in the middle of their lives. A quick conversation in passing, washing. Nothing fake or glamorous about it at all. I wanted to continue a theme of not painting the more familiar aspects of shanghai.


The second was a sense of clutter, claustrophobia or disorientation. When you catch a glimpse down one of these streets, where there might be hundreds of people living in the community, you can often see a mass of bicycles, buckets, chairs, plants littered down the path, while above you and on the walls are wires, pipes, clothes, birdcages, makeshift sinks, bamboo scaffolding etc. as decades of close community living has shaped the space.


At some point places like this won't exist any more and while i have hundreds of photos of these little nooks of Shanghai, I thought that painting form would give me a chance to capture it in a different way.

As an aside, i completed most of this while in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in early 2020. I ran a simple online poll among my social media friends asking if they'd want to see the people wearing masks or not as a tribute to the time we were going through. The overwhelming majority said that they preferred to think of a time when we did not need to routinely wear masks. So, I went with the popular vote and kept it without COVID-19 precautions.


在最近的一次展览上,我被问道,是否认为自己正在从“写实主义”向抽象派画风转变,因为这是许多艺术家画风逐渐成熟后的一个趋势。现在,我算是明白有些刚出生的乳山羊都比我成熟,但是当我回答道其实我还挺有兴趣做一段时间类似于摄影的画时,我觉得这是一个相当有趣的答案。不是照相写实派、(努力还原照相片),而是像摄影一样捕捉某个瞬间。我生活在一个瞬息万变的大都市中心。随着城市的现代化,旧的两层老楼逐渐拆迁,被新的(通常是高层)建筑所取代。无疑,这种改变有很多好处,但是有一些遗失的东西,我想在一系列这样的照片中捕捉,这是我在城市走来走去,看着那些从主路延伸出来的小巷子里捕捉到的一系列。

首先是一种亲密感。经常看到人们在外面晾干衣服,在街上刷牙,甚至偶尔看到在街上冲凉。人们在外面洗碗,洗菜,洗衣服,甚至带些小炉子或椅子和桌子吃饭。许多人把小椅子带到外面,在外面聊天或运动。画中的三个女士只是在做平日生活里常做的事情。路过时打个招呼,聊上几句,洗衣服。完全没有摆姿势或矫揉造作的成分。我想继续保持一个主题,不去画大家熟知的上海的样子。

其次捕捉的是一种混乱,幽闭和让人摸不清方向。当你瞥过一条像画中一样的街道时,那里可能住了上百户人家,你经常可以看到很多自行车、水桶、椅子、植物散落在小路上,而在你的上方和墙上都是电线、管道、衣服、鸟笼、临时水槽、竹脚手架等。

未来有一天,这些地方都会不复存在。尽管我有数百张上海这些小角落的照片,但我依然觉得绘画形式给了我机会用另一种方式来捕捉它。

顺便说一句,我在2020年初新冠疫情爆发期间居家期间完成的这幅画的大部分。我在我的社交平台朋友中做了一次简单的在线民意调查,询问他们是想看到人物戴着口罩还是不戴口罩,纪念我们正经历的特殊时期。绝大多数人说宁愿记起不需要经常戴口罩的时候。所以,我听取了大部分人的意见,画的人物没有戴口罩。