So how do you get more of your ‘self’ into your work?  Easier said than done, particularly when we are inundated 24/7 by everyone else’s images, videos and thoughts.  Also difficult when you have just started an MA and are absorbing so many new ideas from the people around you.

In his book The World Made New Timothy Hyman looks back over 20th Century painters who have particularly managed to get their ‘selves’ into their work; and I can recommend the book, particularly for painters.  I learned about the fantastic Life? Or Theatre? by Charlotte Salomon (more about her another time) and enjoyed the sections on Alice Neel, Ken Kiff and Chaim Soutine (also can’t wait to see his work in the flesh now on at The Courtauld).

How do you know when you’re getting it wrong?  Jerry Saltz, the user-friendly New York art critic writes succinctly about ‘Zombie Formalism’, a term coined by artist Walter Robinson.  Mindless neutral abstraction in decorator-friendly colours, it is also called Modest Abstraction, Neo-Modernism, M.F.A. Abstraction, and Crapstraction.  I messed about with some Zombie Formalism last year (see below), but am trying to avoid it now.

One way I’m trying to be more ‘self-y’ is by not using photo imagery for my paintings.  I’m drawing from life or memory.  The results are wonky, but probably more interesting.  I’m also trying to do what Rosalind Faram is recommending via her group show today in the MAFA Gallery which is to stop caring about what other people think (tutors, students, friends, family) and just make what YOU think is ‘good’.  Come along to Please Your Self today.  Private view is 5-7 and we will be inaugurating the new MAFA bar – on wheels no less.

Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys

Amy Robson