Colin Self launches an important new book 'Colin Self - Art in the Nuclear Age' The first book was presented and signed to Zacron. friend and fellow artist, in Norwich on August 23rd 2008.
Colin Self launches an important new book
'Colin Self - Art in the Nuclear Age'
The first book was presented and signed to
Zacron. friend and fellow artist, in Norwich
on August 23rd 2008.
I first encountered the work of Colin Self at the Picadilly Gallery in Cork Street
London during the 1960's. Amongst so many paintings it was unusual to see
drawings that held their own as radical images. It was refreshing to experience
Self's work; it was not trying to be fashionable yet curiousely it created its own
sense of intimate chic that displayed isolated figures against segments of Art Deco
Odeon architecture. Here was a dramatic contrast in scale and contrast between
highly finished tonal drawing and sharp, almost diagramatic, linear images; a graphic
theatre ahead of its time.
Self's divisions in the visual language have a parallel in Japanese printmaking. There
is a delightfully odd fusion between the early boyish Peter Blake, George Grosz and
Max Ernst, as faces evolve out of dreamlike tracts of paint to express a banal, awkward
femIninity, ill at ease in a constricting artificial modern world.
The artist makes a compelling sophistication from the transItory, even the banal, but it
is this very combination that delivers the gloriousely indigestible, the isolated suspension
of the human psyche, the incongruity of birth, our detatchment from atrocity.
These elements are made more compelling by the fetishist attention to detail in the
surface of objects in contrast to a latex anatomy held by charred-black edges that is
as incongruous as 'Come Dancing'.
'A Boy Eating a Hamburger' by Peter Blake, and 'Psychotic Boy' by Ron B. Kitaj, filter
into my mind. Kitaj's paring down of the face into wiped marks that dissolve the
literal, beat a path to Colin Self who is graphically more crisp - Munch's 'Scream' with
the addition of real noise! Self's art has the power to fruitfully offend, shock and
impress the eye, agitate involuntry laughter, raise both eyebrows, vex and puzzle,
but it can't be ignored. He embraces 'idea-art', the tactics of shock, the whimsical,
the culturally indigestible, the posture of outrage, and delights in the drama with
Self holds his own place amongst a plethora of international artists and he made his
mark very early in the break-away revolution of the sixties. He has earned his place
and is all the more potent for not living within the promotional hub of London.
He takes and gives something raw and vital that comes from beyond
the comfort of the Mecca.
Colin Self is essentially English, hoarding and collecting and documenting anything that
is creatively nutricious. His landscapes reveal his link with a romantic tradition, and an
earthiness. Within the grand performance there is always detail that invites you to
look closer, to engage and contemplate your reaction.
Colin Self: Art in a Nuclear Age - is authored by Simon Martin with writing by Marco
Livingstone, and is available for purchase (£19.95) Published in 2008 by Palant
House Gallery in association with AVA Publishing SA. ISBN 978 2 940411 02 3
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