— 23rd April 2003
Here is a good article on Jasper Johns painting of the american flag. Johns was my favourite artist at that time when I was trying to think my way through a painting degree (not a good strategy). He seemed like a missing link, in between the large macho brush wielding emotional expanses of the abstract expressionists and the ironically straight faced nudges and winks of the pop artists. He was wonderfully enigmatic, but what I think appealed to me most was the fact that he seemed to create objects which provoked intense debate without ever really giving away what he was about. In a time when the YBA’s were (almost literally) disembowelling themselves into the art galleries of England it seemed kind of refreshing to find someone who didn’t feel the need to tell you the colour of that mornings stool and created art with an intellectual as well as purely sensational aspect.
He also used encaustic which I was using at that time to create translucent paintings of faces. I used to paint them into the space created behind the canvas when you’ve stretched across a frame. That meant that the faces themselves where only visible on the front of the canvas when they were lit from behind. It was quite a nice effect but somehow there was no where to go from there. I did about 10 of them and then stopped.