Brian Grimwood 'Painting During Technology'
'Painting During Technology'
Snape Maltings, The Dovecote building, Suffolk
Exhibition Opening: Saturday 7th September 2-4pm
The exhibition will bring together a series of new, unique works across a variety of mediums, exploring the use of technology as a method for painting. The exhibition marks the first for the artist combining both the digital medium and painting.
Brian Grimwood’s Never Never Land
"All Children indulge in play, at once repetitive and imitative and, equally, exploratory and innovative. They are drawn both to the familiar and the unusual - grounding and anchoring themselves in what is known and secure, and exploring what is new and has never been experienced. Children have an elemental hunger for knowledge and understanding, for mental food and stimulations. They do not need to be told or "motivated" to explore or play, for play, like all creative or proto-creative activities, is deeply pleasurable in itself." - Oliver Sacks, 2017
This lyrical and beguiling extract from The River of Consciousness, neuroscientist Oliver Sacks' final and most candid treatise, has become sydromic with my experience of Brian Grimwood's art, particularly his most recent epoch. Grimwood is playful, anyone who has encountered his aura can attest to that. Playfulness is a part of his soul, his make up, his character, his being and his art. There has always been a playful naivety to his work, teamed with a roguish mischief and an impish curiosity. At the same time his purview is embedded with discerning references towards verified concepts, styles and techniques. Traceable across his oeuvre are the wild colours of Matisse, the primitive angular forms of Picasso, the musicality of Klee and the droll humour and conceptual acuity of Chwast. With a deep understanding and unique interpretation of the world, Grimwood's work has masterfully toed a satirical line in the most endearing and frolicsome way.
Grimwood's erudite and recognizable style truly originates from play. In a well-recounted tale, he recalls how as a child hours were spent with his father playing a squiggle drawing game. Such childhood endeavors remain traceable in the wiggly figures that still appear in his work. Expression and exploration through mark making, through creative depiction are inherent. Never has he veered from his life's work as an illustrator, now in its fifth decade. With playfulness comes experimentation; it is where "the innovative and the imitative impulses come together" (Sacks, 2017) and is a significant part of growing, expanding and evolving. Grimwood's practice unfailingly radiates these values, allowing him to remain relevant. For over fifty years he has been a consistent touchstone, his work tirelessly topical and permanently on the pulse.
Grimwood came to fruition in the 1960s, when the development of his fluid style and imaginative composition chimed with the emerging visual culture. As he moved through the ensuing eras, Grimwood continued to evolve. His practice reflects the climate of limitless creativity and cultural exploration heralded by peers such as Hockney, Bowie, Baselitz and Basquiat. The rebirth of Figurative painting through Pop and Neo-expressionism and the growth of Street Art in the 1980s all contribute to his deft reflections of the world around. The evolution of New Media Art and the radical dismissal of the 'artists hand', by Judd's Minimalism and Warhol's Pop movements imbued a confidence in varied mediums and Grimwood became an early proponent of applying digital technology within his work. Music has been invariably influential within Grimwood's practice. His engagement with Blues and Jazz manifests in the ostentatious lyricism and sweeping movement of his hand. The genre's penchant for improvisation, spontaneity and 'playing' with sound, as well as the music industry's ceaseless technological progression are reverberated in the attitude of Grimwood's oeuvre and techniques.
The use of the IPAD as Grimwood's newest medium has thus been an intuitive progression. With the device now so embedded in our culture that today's children are learning and playing through it, it is only natural that Grimwood would inquisitively join the game. Navigating this revolutionary medium allows him to continue evolving his practice in coeval ways, maintaining the playful curiosity endemic to his process. The build up to this exhibition has been a four-year exploration into the IPAD as a medium allowing infinite possibilities across spontaneity of colour and tools, rapid drawing and freedom to compose instantaneously on an impulse or idea. In production, it has reignited Grimwood's 1990 flirtation with acrylic paint, now in his own words he is truly "playing with paint" by graffiti-ing over the inkjet canvases. This form of production has also allowed an emboldened exploration of canvas dimensions. Free from the parameters of illustrator briefs and with the flexibility of the IPAD, he concedes, "now I am creating my own problems to solve and that is quite exciting. It is refreshing to do whatever I want to do."
The use of new technologies as medium is now a pervasive trait of contemporary arts' most voguish emerging pioneers and once again, veteran or not, Grimwood is on the forefront of progress. Although, this seems to be only a fortunate by-product of his simple motivation to enjoy, create and play through his work. To explain this he professes the motto, "First entertain yourself." This is what I find so endearing about this current epoch of his work; it is founded on years of aptitude, motivated through passion and created with technology. The IPAD is a tool that allows Grimwood to work digitally without compromising on creative process or style. In a way it is an instrument for Grimwood to create his own Never Never Land, wherein he continues to revel in his childhood playfulness, eternally playing the squiggle game, creating naivety through exploration while shamelessly enjoying the process. The works in the Snape Maltings presentation are a true demonstration of a relaxed childish state of exhilaration and glee, expressed sublimely through an utterly contemporary medium.