Making painting-Jess Woodrow


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In order to be able to make a painting, you have to be prepared to forget who you think you are and everything you think you know; every time. Forgetting is part of the process.

If things get too formal; you hit a wall and there’s nowhere left to go. As soon as this happens, and I find I’m repeating myself, I have to change direction immediately. It’s then that you have to ask; ok, what’s it all about really? What is it that I’m trying to avoid?

Painting is an exercise in consciousness. Not so much who Am I- but where am I? Where is consciousness located? It’s also something to do with the nature of time; how time behaves. It seems to loop round like a stretched out spring.

When I started out, I was obsessed with how to make a painting work formally. How to integrate space; but that’s only a skeleton on which to hang the flesh. Painting is more than that. It’s an exploration of the psyche, and of our relationship with the planet. It’s about becoming rather than just being, about finding a pathway, and the pathway having a sense of place. I want to create the nomadology that Deleuze and Guatari talk about. The anti-history (as opposed to antihistamine) we are, after all, naturally nomadic.

If memory and consciousness are closely linked, if memory is a kind of ‘guiding hand’, what does this mean? That time moves in two directions? Something which remembers where we’ve been before? Are the paintings like little moments of déjà vu? They do seem to be moments of recognition – of …what?

I paint, until I can bear to look. Or even until I can’t tear my eyes away. The image has to surprise in some way. I have to think: how did that get there? I paint to lose myself. To lose and forget.

The other consideration of course is painting as time travel. If you could move around the universe at the speed of light, you would undoubtedly meet yourself coming the other way. And this other self would be a vision of pure clarity. Baggage free, and the moment you start to feel jealous of this baggage free other you, is the moment you fall back to earth; and you are standing there, with a paintbrush in your hand.

Jess Woodrow May 2012