An Hydraulic Excavator
112 x 137 cms 2004
While looking for the smashed car for Hills Wreck and Dog at AAA Motor Wreckers in Murray Bridge, I saw this truly magnificent excavator. I only changed it a bit - the cabin windows were broken and covered with polythene and I just couldn't see that working in the composition. I also added the grabber attachment which, in reality, was lying in the scrap.
An interesting conversation occurred in front of this painting. A gentleman insisted that the pile of scrap in the bottom left hand corner represented the debris of civilisation. I insisted that it was simply a pile of scrap. He insisted that a pile of scrap is, by its very nature, essentially the debris of civilisation. Has to be. End of argument. I still maintained that scrap is scrap and then wandered off before I totally lost it and started shouting. It was, after all, my work, with all the meditations and decisions which that entails.
The argument was, in fact, central to my attitude towards the presentation of 'realism'. As a student, coming across the word, existentialism, I thought it meant the unique, exciting and individual existence of each and every object, (yes, I was wrong) so that when I painted scrap iron I was painting exactly that, scrap iron. I could feel it, hard, dirty, rough, sharp, heavy. (It's the same with everything I paint).
Calling scrap iron the debris of civilisation, (or applying any other metaphor to any other object) imposes a barrier of words across the front of the observers' brain, separating them from the experience of the painting. The problem is getting the brain to just shut up for long enough so the painting can get through.
*** Compare the use of Wrecked Vehicles