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The Letter Paintings | 2017

The Letter Paintings

Materials: paper, card, paint, ink, felt tip, pencil, inkjet prints from Seers' original drawings, glazed box frames 70cm x 56cm

Letter to A  Sold

Letter to N  Sold

Other works in this series available see below. (For all enquiries contact info@mattsgallery.org)


When does an artwork begin?

Almost twenty years ago, a set of events unfolded which I could believe are the origin of these drawings/paintings. A talented art student whom I taught was diagnosed with the condition of schizophrenia; then I had by chance discovered a book, "Lenz" by Georg Büchner, on a shelf in a house I was temporarily staying in. (The novella is based on a diary and was an early account of the subjectivity and phenomenal experience of psychosis); and finally I was introduced to an eminent cognitive neuroscientist, Chris Frith, who has worked consistently and extensively in investigating the condition of schizophrenia. What followed was an interest in the idea that there is a unique shift in perception that arises in the case of psychosis, which causes substantial changes in depth of field, information filtering and meaning. I believe that the materialisation of this is epitomised in the work of Richard Dadd.

The condition of schizophrenia itself has been considered an organic brain disease rather than being psychologically driven. However, it seems evident that traumatic circumstances in early life can play a significant factor in the presentation of the condition. I am interested in studies of colonial incursions (particularly affected second generations of families , indicating an embodiment of trauma across generations).

Although the flattening off of the perceptual field and also the lack of hierarchical distinctions related to perception in the state of psychosis in drawings and paintings is often associated with the genre of "outsider artists", I am not interested in this categorisation of outsider artist per se –  I am interested in works that seem to show this unique form of perception that is not in itself an "artistic conceit".  The act of painting is driven in this case by a desire to depict a reality about  experiences that are related to an hallucinatory real. Perhaps that reality is a social/political real  that locates one of its triggers in global historical narratives related to slavery and immigration.

I have been engaged in a drawing exchange with several artists over the past two years. These works (which I have presented in exhibitions) are a letter to individuals whom I know predominantly through posting drawings to.