Saturday, 26 May 2018

Print: Snow Baffles Beast / Text: Never went to no art school...

RTomens, 2018

Bush Tetras are currently telling me that 'You can't be funky if you haven't got a soul', well, that didn't stop them trying. But can you be an artist if you never went to art school? Yes, obviously. 

I ponder the matter of art school in relation to a conversation with an ex-student outside the Buna Oromia Coffee place in Camden. He studied in Paris and had a French bulldog with him to reinforce his Frenchness in my mind. Nice fellow. Turns out he hasn't made art in a long time. His expression a demeanour conveyed considerable angst about this. I told him to just start scribbling anything on a piece of paper. I don't claim to be an art motivator, but it's not bad advice. He needs to free up whatever's inside him. The trouble is, he used to work large, painting. I reassured him that the principle still applies.

The more ex-students I meet the more I think college does great harm. I used to know to ex-English Lit graduates who really wanted to write fiction but couldn't. They ran a writing group of which I was a member. I got the impression they envied my reckless approach to poetry and prose. This, I'm convinced, was because the weight of knowledge and classics were not a burden I carried. My inspiration at the time was the Beat movement, as any friends receiving my 'spontaneous prose' typed letters would testify.

I also know a few ex-art school students who have trouble creating, or rather, seem to go through long spells of inactivity. I don't know for sure what art school teaches students today. From a conversation with a teacher at Central St Martins a couple of years ago I got the impression that skills have been largely replaced by simply proving time, space and support in exploring ideas. Or something. Not a bad concept. Large paintings in galleries by people who can't paint well, technically, compositionally, or colour-wise, make me laugh though. Still, there's something about that idea that appeals.

As you probably know (can tell?) I never attended art school. Ironically, it's a fact that has probably sustained my output (with a few gaps) over the years. I never was in a place where the proposition of becoming a professional artist was viable. That dream was crushed when I was about 12 and the next four years only heightened my distaste for the education system. Therefore, I got my big disappointment over with early. 

So I carry on...I just wish that French chap would take my advice, though. Deadened creativity is a terrible thing. 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

William Burroughs' London - Westminster Reference Library

I went to the exhibition curated by X-Ray Audio's Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield with Barry Miles, about William Burroughs in London. It was very small, just one sectioned-off part of the library, but there were some great photos, such as this one of him smiling, impishly! Plus the obligatory gun play...

Photos by Miles, 1972, 'taken after an evening of whisky drinking at 8 Duke St, St James's'

...the best parts were undoubtedly the two vitrines, filled with small photos and have a browse...


...finally, this great portrait...

Photo by Brion Gysin, 1966, Christoper Gibbs' apartment, Cheyne Walk

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

No Smoke x 3

Original print above. The term 'no smoke' is prison slang for following staff’s orders without resisting or causing any problems. I was once mistaken for an ex-convict by two coppers. I have a criminal doppelganger. 

R.Tomens, 2018

Monday, 21 May 2018

System x 3

Hello - firstly, apologies for starving you of new art for a week but I've been on holiday. I know how much it means to you but I need a break now and again. I do hope your life was not too miserable without my supply of visual entertainment. 

Talking of which, as part of the ongoing stream of pictures presented on this internet thing, I've decided that I'm part of the new 'pictures generation'. Like everyone else who's gallery is online. Except we're different in many respects, one being that we don't necessarily take pictures, copy photographs or whatever else those 80s artists did (what defines them exactly, I have never quite understood).

One day I may decide to no longer be a part of the New Pictures Generation in a move that takes me underground, out of sight, awaiting the chance to be in an old-fashioned gallerie. Meanwhile, here's a print (top) called System, with two more versions. TTFN

R.Tomens, 2018

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Paper Collage + variations: Invest In A Blonde

From the pin-up series, which I've now ended, mainly because I started suggesting to LJ that she get a black wig and wear kinky (circa 1950) underwear in an effort to remake/remodel her after Betty Page just as John 'Scottie' Ferguson in Hitchcock's Vertigo remodelled Madeleine...that or I just decided to work out which is true.

R. Tomens, 2018

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Print: Now £15

No, that's not the cost, it's the title. Obviously, you spotted that. Here's a print (above) and it's variations, created from photos taken this year and last. I've grown fond of the mannequins I photographed 18 months ago in Kentish Town. The shop no longer exists, but I wonder if the dummies live on in another display? I like the absence of wigs on the males, which lends a slightly sinister air to the child especially. I our fascination with mannequins a reflection of the way they mirror us but in a deadened, soulless if to symbolise the way we all sometimes feel robbed of our humanity by a world that would prefer us to be so easily contained and controlled in society?

R.Tomens, 2018

Friday, 4 May 2018

Print: Mother Image / Weasel Walter on being an outsider / Art and acceptance

RTomens, 2018

I made the print above, Mother Image, yesterday and as you can see it continues my interest in imagery/culture from mid-century America, although not for reasons of 'nostalgia', obviously, since I was never there. Other interpretations of nostalgia are possible. Affection, if not longing, for a bygone era or, in my case, fondness for the colour of an era in print. Yes, whatever. This work combines a found image with a photo I took last year. 

Weasel Walter isn't one to dwell on the past and despite having noticed his name I had never listened to him until this morning, namely the interview below. I don't know how he popped onto my radar today but I'm glad he did. If his diverse (and vast) musical output doesn't interest you that much, his thoughts on making art (music in his case) as a permanent outsider should (unless you happen to have 'made it'). WW has been around for a good few years and developed his drumming (Improv) chops before moving on and I admire that for starters. It's easier to stay put, even though where you're at isn't very popular. 

As I listened I realised he could be talking about any art form which is niche. By which I mean content-wise, I suppose. Put another way, let's just say he echoes the thoughts, I'm sure, of all who carry on regardless of having no financial success. Each of us may succumb to bitterness before, hopefully, saying 'Fuck it!' to ourselves and charging on whilst feeling virtually alone.

At one point this notion of caring what other people think is discussed. I can relate to WW's desire to work with others whilst remaining determined not to let what others think of him soil his thoughts. I've often wanted to work with others, as in a group of like-minded artists, but that's even harder than finding musicians on the same wavelength. By the very nature of the thing, producing art is a solo effort, with a few exceptions who have co-created. Music, though, is a co-operative venture, on the whole, again with occasional solo recordings.

Talking of music, at one point WW suggests that if John Coltrane was miraculously resurrected his new album on Bandcamp would be just another album on Bandcamp. In other words, the 'level playing field', as he puts it, can reduce everything to the same status in a negative way, as well as positive. I've joked about that in the past, suggesting that should Picasso be alive and posting his work on Facebook it might just get a few 'likes' before viewers quickly move on or at worst... 'meh'.

They also discuss class in relation to the more privileged artists. I was surprised the subject came up between two Americans since they don't seem to share the level of obsession with class that we do in the UK. Or I do - rather did in relation to my art. I'm not saying I'm 'over it' but as WW has (being self-confessed 'lower-middle) I've become more accepting of the luck of others. It's not worth being angry about the good fortune of others born into financial comfort which enables them to be creative without money worries. 

Likewise, it's not worth getting in a state about the degree to which your art is accepted. WW suggests that out of a hundred people asked, none would known him. So it is, even with legends such as Cecil Taylor (RIP) or Dieter Roth. As for making money, who buys art? It's not a career, except for the very few and they are either currently fashionable Fine Artists or Commercial ones. 

Anyway, make time to play the interview. If any of the above issues interest you it's worth a listen.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Print: Drive x 3

Hello, art-lover (what the hell are you doing here?! - ha-ha). This print and it's variations were made this week. I'm all for multiples. Using technology as I do, like Dieter Roth, I find it liberating and enjoyable to create versions. I've got almost as many versions of pieces as there are of reggae rhythms. 'Version galore!', as they said in J.A. if you like the work, don't forget to spread the word. perhaps a contact will make me famous (canned laughter). TTFN

R.Tomens, 2018

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Print/Vispo: Late

Print experiment using one of my own photographs. I like all three colour variations, therefore felt it only right that the world should be allowed to see the trio. I am so generous...

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R.Tomens, 2018

Monday, 30 April 2018

Print: No Help

No Help, RTomens, 2018

(Pop art, Dada, neo-Dada, surrealism, Fluxus digital art, collage, digital collage, art print, London art, Situationist, Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton)