So I actually did get to see the Deibenkorn at the RA. And… well you can read other peoples thoughts about it here and here and here.
I was feeling a bit weird and was on a tight schedule when I battled my way up all those stairs to the Sacker gallery. And… there was some guy’s life spread all over the walls and you’re meant to have opinions about it.
So there were some really lovely things: I didn’t bring a jumper big enough for stuffing under unfortunately. They reminded me of the illustrator shaun tan, who works out of western Australia. Are you allowed to do that, compare art heavy weights to children’s authors? They both seem to demonstrate an intense affection and understanding for their local.
The sacker gallery is a rather bijou place, the light is mellow and intimate. Deibenkorn’s art struggles a bit here as it’s generously sized (2m sq.) and was made at the beach. You try and ignore the next picture, the other punters and sink into the bright sunlight and salty breeze you expect to be emanating from each painting as well as a generous sense of space. maybe they should put one picture up in rotation during February so we can all get a winter break and a health dose of UV.
So this guys career has been decided up into three sections, he started of writing his Masters as an abstract expressionist (I wonder what he said?) and his paintings are all lumps and washes and in no way representative of the landscape he was situated in.
Then after one move he took up figure drawing and filling his canvases with identifiable things. Still there’s that sense of place, of location, of meaning. Finally he… well there are these planes of colour that hang in the tied together with lines and marks and they evoke stuff.
So there was I trying to get a feeling for exotic Santa Monica in hot stuffy London and that made me think of my own places. Most of the time i’ve worked on far away places the mountains or the coast because I only see them for short visit. For a long time though I’ve wanted to say something about deepest suburbia where I spend the bulk of my time. Houses and gardens but also sky (sometimes). Does one get down every wing mirror and window frame or go for something more sweeping, or impressionistic – to capture that sense of claustrophobia and desperation.