‘ex ovo’ 9-square installation 1997
‘ex ovo’ 6
‘ex ovo’ 5
‘ex ovo’ 8
‘ex ovo’ 3
‘ex ovo’ 1
‘ex ovo’ 4
‘ex ovo’ 7
‘ex ovo’ 2
I have always been much more interested in suggestion rather than realistic depiction. My painting/drawing of the later 1990s was moderately ‘gestural’ with an interest in graphic surface qualities, though I rarely became interested in ‘mark making’ for its own sake. If I was occasionally seduced by anything for its own sake it was probably the exploration of techniques .. as it is today. I preferred using spirit-based media on paper, either making my own form of oil paint or working pencil or pastel onto the paper surface with spirit to create a pigment ‘skin’ which could then be worked into or removed.
At the time I was more closely focused on the expression of ‘organisms’ and biological form. I used my ‘pencil/white spirit’ technique to suggest emergent life in the ‘ex ovo’ series of drawings. My aim here was that whatever pictorial technique I chose should itself reflect the processes of natural evolution i.e. ideally containing a similar mixture of determinism and opportunism. What I mean is that certain things are determined i.e. controlled from the beginning .. the size of the work; the materials used; the range of colours and the circular field for example. These are the same for each work in the series. The ‘theme’ is also consistent, though I don’t normally see my works has having a ‘theme’, rather an area of visual reference which is sometimes recognizable and at other times not. Here the theme can be likened to the ‘genus’ in biological classification. All dogs belong to the genus ‘canis’ and share this with foxes, jackals and wolves .. even though there may be huge differences in size, shape and colour, if you put them all in a line I’m sure that most people would be able to pick out the horse amongst them.
I had planned a series of small ‘embryonic’ formations (16cm diameter) to be arranged either as a block or a line. I chose a heavy-duty and slightly impervious (smooth surface) drawing paper and, by repeatedly rubbing coloured pencil pigment onto the surface with white spirit managed to create quite a dark and rich patina as a basis. When dry this field of colour could be gently rubbed away with a soft eraser, creating highlights almost back to white if need be. The effects were not always completely controllable or predictable, and this was important for the subject matter