PAINTING For the past 3 years I have studied the palette and techniques of Diego Velázquez through the books by the Prado technical specialist Carmen Garrido. The lead white grounds applied with large knives in sweeping strokes over which evasive thin sketches are mapped out and scumbled with a mix of lead white skin, containing vermillion, ochre and varying impurities. Over this Calcite sun oil glazes are placed with both a delicate and aggressive thrust and caress of the brush. All rising to a cresendo of virtuoso aesthetics - an entity that defies the material origins of the paint and linen used to create it. It is this belief in the entity of the painting that brings me back to try and make my own efforts- a possible glimpse of this breathing surface. A surface that entraps within the terrain of the lead white and glass of the glaze a possible reality that surpasses the photographic to the living power of material presence. Although the area I have chosen to refence in terms of palette and application is Velázquez, Titian, Van Dyck and Frans Hals,Ribera,Carriere,Degas to name a few the ultimate aim for the image lies within the question of a new painted reality. This question then turns me to Degas, Picasso and in turn to Bacon and Giacommetti. I quote from the book Picasso and Bacon where it is made clear that Bacon took Picasso’s subversion of reality and tried to bring this pictorial philosopy further in his own work.-‘ In spite of many frienships with eminent members of the surrealist group,Picasso too had at a very early stage rejected out of hand any assimilation of his work to the aesthetics of the movement -3: “Some called my work at that time ‘Surrealist’. I am not a Surrealist. I’ve never been outside the real. I’ve always stayed at the heart of the real”-2Picasso moreover remarked: “That’s how Surrealism did so much damage. They completely neglected what’s important- painting –and stressed bad poetry, the kind of poetry that a sallow girl finds more poetic than a girl in good health…. They didn’t understand what I understood by ‘Surrealism’…: something more real than reality”.-2 Another way of looking at this point is –A painting does not mean something, it is something.”You realise that you cant represent reality at all” says Richter, “that what you make represents nothing but itself, and therefore is itself reality.” While my images have not arrived at this painterly reailty fully there are glimpses of this allusive capturing of what Bacon would call the other in the supple psychlogical renderings of the head and the decisions to leave areas of canvas bare to increase the potency of the falsehood of the reality being painted. Which I believe only acts to increase the power of the paints presence within the figures inhabiting the space of the canvas. Similar to the descriptive passages in Bacon’s work like the lightbulb,the arrow or the lettraset typography these are facts which amplify the viscuous alternative reality of the fingers painted. While the works at the present time are still grounded in the loose application of a somewhat faithful realisim, it is my intention that I learn from the old masters and on that foundation begin to gradually build upon this strata. One can only hope with time that the two will fuse into a rewarding exploration of paint and the question of the image and the human figure and give way to a new path. WHY DO I PAINT ? Well it’s not for the money that’s for sure. But I think the reason is that nothing in my life seems to have retained my interest for such a long period of time as painting. Outside of food and film of course! Its not that I have painted non stop for 17 years its just the one language and craft I have continually returned back to. It’s the sheer quality of the craftsmanship that keeps talking to me when I visit the Prado or the Gemeldegalerie. It’s the directness of the act in a world which is filled with so much useless material, lies and veiled appearance in both life and art forms, Painting is the indelible stain on the surface that cannot be rubbed out. The entrapment of the act and the future viewers gaze in the same space. Destroying space and time as we know it, acting not only as a portal to the image depicted, but also, the artists temperment and the air of the time. I can look for hours at the copious mounds of flesh on a Rubens thigh from 1638 - The painting Andromeda is a tour de force of paint becoming flesh. Since the age of 9 or 10 I breathed the quietness and homely familiarity of the objects in a Chardin stilllife. I have experinenced the presence of a Velazquez portrait and have often felt I knew the person posing , or would come to know them. To Love and destroy at the same time with Picasso. To unmake and remake reality in his own form leading to the same flux found in Francis Bacon. Within Bacon’s offerings in paint. The escaping of paint from the figure or the lifeform being vanquished from the head is a fantastic experience. It is as if the paint refuses to be just paint just as the image refuses to be just an image. It must be more. “We all deal with images as language, we all respond to these codes, but I fuck these codes up - that’s what I do.” You have to know the codes before fucking them up, though, and in this Borremans is carrying on the tradition of fellow Belgian Rene Magritte’s concept-based figurative punning. - Michael Borreman in conversation LLEWELLYN Extracts 2008-2011 berlin

Author's name: 
Eoin Llewellyn