When I am not busy living as the reincarnation of both Orwell and Voltaire I like to paint. Whether painting likes me is a different matter.
It is hard to describe what my style is. One person, to whom I showed my work in a rare attempt at being friendly, described it as having “a child-like quality.” I do not think she meant this positively. More as a way of phrasing a criticism in such a manner I would not react with anger or sorrow; for who in this dark, depressing, overly long pit of existence we call life could feel anger at having their work remind another of the joyous days of youth long past? Me—that’s who. My brother’s fiancee commented that my portraits all look sad. EntirelyForced simply says “I like that,” before moving onto complaining about whatever nonsense he (or she) has chosen to have an anxiety attack about on this given day.
As for me, I, as the self-important yet self-pitying mess that I am, would simply refer to it as ‘Lovattian’. That’s ‘Lo-va-ttian,’ not ‘Lov-att-ian’. Indeed, I think it would be preferable to my psyche to have my work characterised as something unique entirely. God knows that if I apply what I have done to established standards it will get me nowhere. No—in order to make it in this crazy world of art and literature, one must invent. If postmodernism can benefit twats who throw barrels of paint at a canvas and call it ‘the door with which we seek to lock out the daemonic entities of our subconscious, only to remember just before going to bed that we forgot to latch the window next to it,’ then I can make up my own art movement.
In doing this I present to you a handful of my works. Though I am loathe to bring in the ‘word of God’ into this discussion, I will relent and try to provide an explanation on just what the hell I was thinking when I created the piece.
Exhibit A: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Giraffe, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
The idea of an animal—any animal—wearing a jumper and smoking a cigarette amuses me. Though I do not smoke myself, the ‘old-timey’ ideal of a man sitting in a leather chair in a gentlemen’s club, whiskey in one hand, cigarette or pipe in the other, exchanging pleasantries and stories with men—only ever men—of similar intellect and experience is that one brings to me a sense of ease and solace. I am much too poor, much too anti-social, much too against smoking or indeed leaving my house to ever join one of these clubs, so instead I live out this fantasy in the form of a young giraffe. The thickness of the neck is perhaps the one thing that bares the closest resemblance to me: I do not smoke, I do not have a red jumper, and I am not a giraffe. But I am broad in the neck. As for the blue hue—well, we must keep some secrets.
Exhibit B: Squid in a Jumper, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
Repetition is something that I enjoy. Through repetition, one can build a scene, set a tempo, reinforce an idea or a message, through which one final utterance can serve as an inspiring punchline to a long set-up. Would Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’ have quite the same impact, have quite the same message of the futility of war, of the incompetence of administrators, or of the variety of life if he had imposed on himself the rule of only telling a story once, of only conveying a message once, of not wasting my time with mundane details about nothing at all? I, and I imagine others, would argue: no. In the case of ‘Squid in a Jumper,’ the repetition of the piece is clear to all: see the symmetry in the tentacles, the stiffness in the shoulders, the direct, cold, intense gaze of the eyes. This is my self-doubt, my worries. The squid cannot let his literal tentacles down, just as I cannot let my figurative ones down. No matter how many times one looks at the piece, the repetition will be there: one poor squid, suffered to repeat the stresses of his life.
Exhibit C: The Spectre in the Storm, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
What is it about the sea that summons forth the primordial essence of Man? It is an untameable beast, one which knows no fear nor shows no sense of learning. Yet man, since time immemorial, has set forth to tame this most wild of animals. Is the spectre, then, man, the individual—one lost to the crushing waves that dominate the canvas? Or is he Man—that which lies dormant in every one of us until one day, like a bug festering under the skin, it bursts forth and beckons for another to seek to conquer the waves? Perhaps he is both. Perhaps he is none. Perhaps the spectre is the manifestation of the sea: a grim reaper of sorts, come to guide those lost in the blackness of night to the light of the next world. Perhaps he is not so benevolent; perhaps it is the spectre who summons those sailors, promises them calm seas and fair winds, before summoning forth the tempest. Perhaps he is both. Perhaps he is none. The sea is unpredictable—and that is what lures us towards it.
Exhibit D: The Banks of the Stream, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
“Why do you only draw animals wearing jackets?” asks the man.
“Why do you only ever draw profiles of faces?” says the woman.
“This,” says I, pointing to the canvas, “this is why.”
More work such as this, and less like the trees, is available to view on my Instagram.