Two Weeks Into Exhibition Intermission

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As the books instructs—time to find my flow.

Here is a level of Quintus, an industrial room to the side of the stairs, where some of my paintings guest in a little Stuckist room outside of our exhibition. It is intermission and I have picked up a book to seek a passage or two about the good life. I’ll set it down after a few sips of coffee, and pick up another.

Watkins Show Book Cover promo

Ah, yes! The greatest book on Stuckist painters ever produced in central New York State. I’ll have just enough time to read a few essays by some of its founding fathers and mothers.

Stuckism Today
by Eamon Everall, MA

As one of the twelve founder members of Stuckism I’m pleased that I accepted Charles Thomson’s invitation to join in 1999, for despite the many Jeremiahs who forecasted its early demise, Stuckism, continues to go from strength to strength. Thanks to a steadily growing number of highly active branches across the globe, Stuckism is truly an international art movement. This success strikes many as something of a paradox for, at first sight, Stuckism appears to some to be an ‘old school’, pro-painting throwback, however, the very diversity of approaches to painting combined with its sustained innovative use of the Internet and manipulation of the media mark Stuckism out as being something quite different from anything which went before. Despite its emphasis on old-fashioned values, in many ways Stuckism is the quintessential post-modern phenomena, combining as it does, traditional approaches to art with a wholly modern concept of what constitutes an active, vibrant and living art movement. Prior to Stuckism’s arrival on the scene, art movements were invariably categorized by the stylistic attributes of the artworks, this usually by art critics, commentators and other non-practitioners, hence those great movements, Cubism, Fauvism, Impressionism, etc. With Stuckism, however, it is not the superficial stylistic similarity, so beloved of the pundits, which binds the movement together but rather a common quest for real, authentic and honestly felt artworks growing out of the experience and the soul of the painter. The original Stuckist manifesto captured this wonderfully when it first appeared and continues to do so to this day. It is the stylistic deviancy, which arises out of this quest for authentic art, underpinned by a common creative goal which truly characterizes artists working under the Stuckist banner.
So far as our work is concerned, technical virtuosity, whilst welcome, is not an overriding pre-requisite. More important by far is a committed, coherent and most definitely, an honest personal vision is what is needed. If you paint and have ‘something to say’, no matter what your visual language or style is, there is almost certainly a place for you in Stuckism. Whilst working alone is fine for some, banding together with other Stuckist artists to stage exhibitions, events, soirees, etc., really does inspire the creation of exciting new work. Stuckist group exhibitions are always accessible to the art-lover and newcomer alike, the stylistic divergence guarantees that there will be many pieces which appeal to one’s taste. A common entry in Stuckist exhibition comment books is, ‘So & so’s work is really outstanding, but why are they showing with such a bunch of misfits?’, this is often repeated time and again in relation to completely different artists— just going to show how different our tastes are.
An anecdote springs to mind at this point; we were arranging a group show in London’s Mayfair a few years ago and as time was short, the gallery manager had arranged for the artists, about twenty in all, to bring in their work and hang it themselves. Come the day and the motley crew turns up, punks, emos, straights, bohemians, rockers, beatniks all human life appeared to be there. The manager just couldn’t see how such an apparently disparate horde could work effectively together and had a panic attack. We reassured her, ‘don’t worry love, we’ve put up countless shows this way before; it’ll be OK. Why not pop off to the pub and take it easy’. By the time she returned the show was up and ready to open and without any falling-outs. That’s Stuckism for you—effective, harmonious and basically good-hearted except, of course, when it comes to conceptualism, but that’s another story.
My own work, although often influenced by past movements such as Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, seeks to build on their innovative visual research and to extend this into the realm of spirit by including lyrical, poetic and at times humorous aspects. Like them, my ‘style’ evolves and like them, I return to and revive earlier ‘styles’ depending upon the task in hand. This has caused me to be accused of stylistic deviancy, a badge I wear with pride for Duchamp, Apollinaire & Cocteau were likewise criticised and castigated; ironically by a committee of Cubists. My process, however, is quite unlike earlier painters. Whether a ‘composition’ or a ‘still life’, each piece invariably starts off as a series of exploratory ‘realistic’ studies often in the form of paintings. Even when working on the final semi-abstract piece I usually still work directly from life. It is this process; keeping in touch with the subject, which, I believe, gives the end product its libidinousness, veracity and impact.
My paintings are characterised by the use of different, overt and covert, viewpoints, multi-faceted images & the use of text; to create a unified whole. The hidden structure underlying the painting, particularly in the case of ‘compositions’, is usually based upon the ‘sacred geometry’ evolved by artists and builder/architects since ancient times. Meditation often influences my work, for instance, the initial idea for The Gift came to me, in a flash, during a session.
Most of my ‘compositions’ evolve over months and sometimes years, as changes are made and the painting revised through the use of many layers. In this way the element of time becomes part of what would otherwise be a static 2D work. Although knowledgeable in the technical and theoretical aspects of image making I place great store by the spiritual, intuitive and the, often erratic and elusive, ‘muse’. It is this shamanistic aspect, also at the heart of Stuckism, which, I believe, distinguishes real art from clever kitsch, folk-art & craft. I try to avoid discussing the meanings of particular paintings as each works on a number of different levels; to paraphrase the French philosopher, Roland Barthes, ‘the meaning of a piece lies, firstly, with the viewer’.
My aim is to create complex pictorial webs which can be constantly revisited and re-enjoyed, as the viewer unlocks a growing set of meanings and aesthetic sensations and is thereby transported to another place. One of my goals is the seemingly impossible quest to create paintings which compete successfully with the libidinous and seductive power of the coloured moving image. As to other influences; perceptual & visual theory, allegoric imagery, modern theories of the mind and Vermeer are all pretty strong.
Stuckism by the very nature of its reach is even more relevant today, than it ever it was. This is attested to by the increasing number of references to it in dictionaries, art history books and in the media generally. By merely ‘Google-ing’ Stuckism one will be greeted with an ever increasing panoply of sites referencing us and we are even to be found in the wonderful world of You-Tube too. The constant growth of Stuckism, however, is at root thanks to its artists staging exhibitions in partnership with sympathetic, cutting-edge and enlightened professionals, such as Quintus Gallery.