REFLECTIONS ON 2016

It has been such a prolific year it’s worth reflecting on some implications for my work in general. I completed five series this year, amounting to 268 works, roughly a quarter of my total career output (since 1970). There has been a steady acceleration since 2012, in which time I’ve published thirteen series of the listed thirty-three. There are a number of factors involved. The number of works increases particularly with the inclusion of variations on a composition, a by-product of digital means. The number of themes or series is probably a fairer measure of productivity. Even before greater numbers of variations, series like Decline and Encryption attain greater numbers through the flexibility of handling source pictures and obviously the greater speed of working only to a digital file, both a matter of familiarity with Photoshop.

It is not just that I do the pictures quicker by computer, but that I have more ideas for pictures into the bargain. This is something I had not reckoned on in transferring my methods to Photoshop. I thought I was just saving space and money. But it turns out I’m also opening up whole new perspectives on my project. The added surge this year has a lot to do with my reduction of critical writing. I’ve devoted more time to my pictures this year than previously. Another factor is my mounting frustration at failing to secure gallery representation or any exposure beyond this site. God knows I’ve tried. As a consequence, I simply develop my project more vigorously, more expansively. This could be seen as a reckless inflation, a dilution of ideals, but given the lean period in my career after my failed doctorate (2004-2011), I prefer to see it as an overdue swing back to inspiration. It balances out my career, relieving the nineties of undue emphasis. For a while it felt like I was trying to live up to work from that period but steadily the balance has shifted to work from the past five years, although unexhibited, perhaps unexhibitable, I’m more comfortable with the overall project.

But really I haven’t set myself any quotas or goals in terms of quantity. I’ve just followed the ideas that occurred to me, dwelt upon variations for their convenience. Not all of them are equally valuable, obviously. From this year I’d list my current preference among series as

  1. ACTIVISTS
  2. ROBO
  3. SWAGGIE
  4. LOVED ONES
  5. FIFTY FICTIVE RECORD COVERS

Ought I resign myself to being just a ‘virtual’ artist, confined to the web? And a shunned one even there? That option too provokes new scope for themes, although I am not entirely resigned to that fate. I don’t imagine I will sustain this pace – it all depends on the theme really (some require more research, more complicated development) but I am grateful to have freed myself of too much of my past.

Posted 28/12/2016 by gerrybellart

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