Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Research point - Frank Auerbach

The text gives this link. There is a short article about a retrospective here. Tim Adams, writing in The Guardian links Auerbach to the concept of time "the longer you look at Auerbach’s painting, the more it lets you see" and there are interviews with his sitters here. Auerbach himself says of his process he paints, "to play a small trick with time", turning "the curious nullity of a silent man by himself in the studio into something that happens" (also from the Guardian) He was influenced by his teacher David Bomberg, this can be seen in Bomberg's charcoal drawing St Pauls and the River, and his portrait of his wife Lilian Holt

I prefer Auerbach's drawings to his paintings, but maybe that is because I saw them at the British Library Study visit last year. It is so much easier to appreciate a picture in real life.  I like the feel of the face being carved out of the charcoal marks. Both his paintings and drawings are busy but coherent. They are paintings to study, to stop and consider. 

His work is about charting the small changes over time of a select group of subjects whether they are people or the streets of his home in North London. They reflect time shifting slowly, the pictures aren't purely figurative representations but they seek to capture the subtle changes that occur as they are being made. Even a still life evolves over the day as the light changes. They have to be made from life to really capture the time as it evolves. A painting or a drawing from a photograph is just a copy of that moment in time, frozen and static. Although it is possible to use photographs for reference they are like working in a single hard pencil instead of having a whole array of art material to give texture and colour to the image. In time there is shape, colour, texture, temperature, movement, smells and interruptions. You can choose to ignore these distractions, but if you do you may as well take a photo. A picture made over time can integrate all the senses.

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