I was never much of a fan of Cubist portraits. But when I discovered Cubist still life, I was far more intrigued. Braque’s “Violin and Candlestick” is an abstract still life with tantalising glimpses of the objects it avoids representing. Braque and Picasso did a whole series of paintings in this style. I love the way the objects in seem to emerge as you look at them, resolving themselves into something identifiable as you contemplate them. Recently I saw E.E. Cummings’ painting “Sound” in an exhibition (did you know E.E. Cummings did cubist painting? I didn’t). It gave me the impression of shapes having been slid past each other into new configurations.
So, I decided to try taking a still life, cutting it up and sliding it about.
Masking tape was my friend here. I cut and slid strips in one direction, taped them together on the back, and then cut and slid in the other direction.
The next step was to trace this onto a new piece of paper, and join up the lines in a fairly arbitrary fashion.
I used carbon paper to transfer the image onto a canvas board, and used acrylic paint to block in the areas.
Then I added definition in a few areas, bringing back some depth to the flat blocks of colour. I built up layers, using oil pastel and a transparent layer of glass paint on top in some areas, leaving other areas matt. It was all a bit of an experiment, but I think it achieves the effect of suggesting objects while still being a heavily abstract design.