About one Painting
The story goes, I was on a bus travelling along Gladstone Road looking out at Brisbane’s first modernist high rise ‘Torbreck’ through the pixelated windows that happen when the outside of the bus is covered with advertising. It got me thinking about what would happen if instead of seeing the sky behind this view there could appear some ‘action painting’. Modernism on Modernism.
I’ve stood before a few Jackson Pollock paintings and find them as timelessly unfathomable as the sky. Recently I’d acquired a ton of mural paint and it felt possible that I could afford the luxury of throwing some paint around aware though that Pollock used enamel, automotive and aluminium paints because they pour well yet I had some lolly-coloured acrylics that aren’t as free flowing. Replicating a Pollock was not on the cards although a quick dip into YouTube attests that many have tried. With dubious bravado I talked myself into it.
Simultaneously I was aware that the furthest away from ‘action painting’ is a flower picture but the gulf between the two appealed.
The furore in the conservative press about the NGA’s purchase of ‘Blue Poles’ in 1973 interests me. I was only eleven at the time so Abstract Expressionism wasn’t on my radar. I wondered whether ‘Blue Poles’ had ever come to Brisbane. After a quick google search, I discovered that the painting toured Australia and was displayed in Brisbane City Hall, 7 June–2 August 1974. Having some of my own work in the same building some fifty years later created a tenuous link.
So I’ve made a painting that is titled ‘Modern Fiction’ 2023 that is a time shifting imagining of visiting City Hall clueless in 1974 and returning to Highgate Hill in 2023 with the appreciation I have now. There is a fair bit going on in ‘Modern Fiction’ that materialises this process.
Stephen Nothling 2023