Monday, 12 July 2010

The Fading Narrative

April 2010. Volte Gallery. Wolverhampton
May/June 2010. Stantonbury Gallery. Milton Keynes
The Fading Narrative
Tom Calnan and Dan Mynard

The Fading Narrative was a two-part exhibition of work by Dan Mynard and myself. The Volte Gallery in Wolverhampton was the location of the first part of the exhibition back in April 2010, the second part followed in May at Stantonbury Gallery in Milton Keynes. I gave a presentation about the work to students of the school as part of the second exhibition. Through these talks I became aware of aspects of the work that I felt I needed to explore in more detail so I decided to write this statement to discuss my themes and goals for the project.

In the summer of 2009 I felt under-whelmed by my abstract work. I had spent several years looking at structural abstraction. Constantly refining and developing the processes had left me feeling like the work had become soulless and mechanical. I decided to start painting from still life, reintroducing techniques from my more formal art training. Making the work more conservative helped me to purge some of these demons. The artwork took on an autobiographical nature, I painted objects from my childhood and relevant to my childhood. I became fascinated to understand why some of these objects had taken up such an iconic role in my life. Feelings of nostalgia seemed to add to their importance. We all keep memorabilia from our past and its importance is only quantifiable to oneself. It could be an old school book, a present from a friend or even your first shoes. The point being that no matter what the object this individual value gives purpose to an otherwise redundant item. Some of the old toys I paint may out live me, they are precious, containing elements of my history, interacting and partaking in my development. We each create a living and growing archive of our existence through this memorabilia. Some are hoarded away in cardboard boxes to look at in the future so we can reminisce over our experiences. I want to recreate these items giving them a new purpose by transcending the existence that was set out for them.

The painted surface becomes a mode of conversion for the object. The illusionary copies still create the nostalgia of the original but now each item stands independently within the abstract confine of the canvas. The paintings are roughly 115cm x 145cm, so the objects are larger than life. I like to make them appear as three-dimensional as possible but to stay playful and painterly. Creating the plastic surfaces is an important part of the painting process as it is the shiny glossy finish that links all of the objects together.

As a conclusion, the feedback I received was that most people could relate to the objects, which, even if not a part of their lives, it made them recount and remember moments and stories from their past. Through this the true power of the iconic object is revealed as it narrates stories personal to the viewer, and not just personal to myself.