JASPER JOHN'S/ REGRET'S

I have always worked from an intuition that my ideas develop through process, but as part of my recent practice I have tried to become more consciously aware of why I work the way I do, and to honestly evaluate whether the kinds of research, methods and strategies that I instinctively turn to are still serving my aims. My research is labor-intensive, allowing wide scope for trial and error, employing and often combining several mediums. I believe that experimentation and engagement with process not only underpin the execution of my work, but also give rise to connections that help me refine and expand my ideas as well. Put simply, I need to do it to see it, and I need to see it in order to know where I am going.

 

Jasper Johns Regrets, published in conjunction with a 2014 exhibition, provides a detailed account of the process and experimentation that is central to Johns’ work. The artist makes a single, damaged photograph of Lucien Freud the basis for a series of two dozen paintings, prints, and drawings, carrying the image through a succession of formal and conceptual changes using a wide variety of mediums and techniques. I was excited by the way the series laid bare the artist’s process, its dead ends and fresh starts, and showed the way problems and solutions develop from one work to another. In one piece, he uses ink on plastic, which would seem like a mistake, but the unpredictable method creates an effect where light appears to be passing across the room. This blend of chance and control is something I have been consciously encouraging in my recent work.

 

This detailed examination of Johns’ process has furthered my own practice, not just as an affirming validation of the way I instinctively like to work, but as an instigation to make my labour count - to open up my practice to new methods, strategies and mediums, including an intensified engagement with printmaking, always ensuring that, as in Johns’ Regrets, recurring images and variations on a theme constitute a deepening enquiry rather than an exercise in repetition.