Words at the Black Swan – Session 2

Date: Sunday 24th March 2013 16:00 – 17:30
Workshop Leader: Crysse Morrison

The group was invited to respond to the exhibition ‘Christopher Bucklow – Talking about Painting’ curated by Clive Walley. This was a particularly interesting workshop as the exhibition itself focuses on the artist talking about his work. The way that words can convey an artists ideology behind his paintings is in itself an act of ekphrasis. As curator Clive Walley exerts in his exhibition introduction (below) “Painting is already a language of sorts and to talk about it in ordinary words courts the difficulties any effort at translation between languages encounters.”.

Crysse Morrison talks about the workshop on her blog for Sunday 24th March: http://crysse.blogspot.co.uk/2013_03_01_archive.html

Exhibition Information

Christopher Bucklow: Talking about Painting
Black Swan Arts 23rd March – 20th April 2013

Video projections and screens at various points around the installation will show Chris talking about the work in the show. The videos are quite shaky, unedited, and often close up. Some of the canvases will be installed in the space, not on the walls, and there will be other notes and diagrams around the show helping with the explanation.


“visionary explorations into the landscape of the mind”

Painting is already a language of sorts and to talk about it in ordinary words courts the difficulties any effort at translation between languages encounters. For the artist Chris Bucklow these difficulties apply just the same. This show packs in a few of his very large, multi-part paintings along with several video projections of him talking about them. His struggle to explain the dramatic themes which his painting process appears to be revealing, is an act of courage in the present critical environment, and his philosophical and psychological investigations are a distinguishing feature of his practice. The purpose of the show is to put some of his paintings into the intellectual flux from which they somehow arise. Bucklow gives as good an account of this as anybody on the planet, so come to listen as well as look.

Christopher Bucklow already has an international reputation, with works in many prestigious collections, as an artist/photographer. His series of large photo-images have been seen all round the world. In “Talking about Painting” he makes references to this work and the connection between them and the paintings. During the show of paintings in Frome he has a show of the photo-images images in New York.

The show in Frome is curated by Clive Walley, one of the Black Swan’s new programming group. He has made the videos of Chris. The group’s success in bringing a new feel to the programming of the gallery space has been noted by the art crowd of Frome. Perhaps the Chris Bucklow show will bring a new group of people to the gallery who are interested in hearing something about what makes contemporary art tick.

chris-bucklow-talking-about-paintingChristopher Bucklow Talking About Painting

“William Blake’s poetry and painting depict the battle between the forces of Materialism and the forces of Imagination. The important thing for me is that the conflict is located within his own psyche. He personifies these forces as the figures Isaac Newton and Los, one of his own invented characters, who is a blacksmith and poet. At stake in their combat was nothing less than the nature of the soul.

Because Blake understood that the microcosm and macrocosm were related – and clearly we still do when we say that ‘the personal is political’ – he believed that working on the individual mind was essential if changes were ever to come to society.

There are still, today, broad conflicts of ideas that are clearly related to those Blake identified. Scientific Materialism and Patriarchy, for example, profoundly influence the psychological shape of people formed in our western societies.

By examining the effect of these forces in my own mind, the hope is that personal enquiry will broaden out into a wider discussion. My method has been informed by psychology in general, but I have found that the ideas of Carl Jung best suit my own disposition. Jung, like Blake before him, also personified psychological forces as human figures and I have continued that tradition. Here in this exhibition we see excerpts from the story of Mandy, a young British courtesan and Clement Greenberg, an American critic. Of course, none of the people you see in the paintings are external figures. The conflicts and also the harmonies depicted here are internal states within the mind. The dialogue between them is the struggle between the Open and the Closed; the Porous and the Impervious; between Love and Self.

Blake had a word for the site of this battle. Using etymology to think about the word ‘Golgotha’, which comes from the Aramaic for ‘place of the skull’, he called the space of the mind Golgonooza, the City of the Imagination. By entering the space of this exhibition, you have entered another city of that very same kind. Into it you bring your own city, another city in that great alliance of city-states that is our wider society.”

Christopher Bucklow – March 2013