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Bob Geal - Artist's Statement
My practice is predominantly painting and installation based. I paint because I have been seduced by the sensual physicality of the medium, its history and its possibilities, and I place my paintings in installations in order to explore how the dialogue between the two forms may inform and complement the work.
My recent work uses film stills combined with my own photographs as a basis for my paintings, using digital manipulation to experiment with form, colour and meaning. This work explores the uncertainty of identity, and film stills seem well suited to this end, as their removal from the film's narrative structure, and my further erasure of key elements, invite viewers to construct their own meanings.
My ideas on uncertainty have been informed by a lifelong interest in Quantum Mechanics, and by Gabriel Catren's recent work on the ontology of quantum objects, both of which emphasise the inherent uncertainty underpinning our perception of reality. I am also interested in the uncertainty of artistic identity and how such an identity is constructed, having been influenced by the psychoanalytic idea that the self is predicated upon the other; the other in the case of the artistic self being the artist's works and the response to them. If the artistic self is created through the other, it also appears as, and in, the other. This also raises the question of where the artist is located within his practice, where the frame is the studio, the critical discourse, the social and the institution.
Not wishing to be confined to any location or particular style or genre, I have been inspired by the work of Gerhard Richter and Philip Guston, whose willingness to make radical shifts in their work resulted in great diversity and a deep exploration of the artistic self. I would like my work to dislodge the viewer towards some degree of uncertainty.
Of course what I would really like as an artist is to be admired, adored, adulated, worshipped, wanked over, rubbed, fingered, licked, sucked, caressed, salivated on, drowning in juices, slapped, squeezed, whipped, sticky with worship, a surrealist's fantasy, the critics' dangerous pet, in the vanguard and the guard's van, my mind as sharp as a Samurai laser, as magnetic as the Earth's molten core, and twice as hot.
In mathematics there are functions that act upon the equations for a solid that derive the equations for the solid’s surfaces. Each of these functions can also be applied to the equation for the respective surface to derive an equation for the surface of the surface; a surface that is only a surface, a surface without a solid, a surface of zero. Politics has now become the politics of the zero surface; unlike the saviour-snake that sheds its skin to reveal once again the body within, the skin-shedding in politics can only ever result in another skin. The purpose of regeneration, the creation of the new, is only to create a new surface. Painting, on the other hand, is now a political/anti-political act in the sense that a painter seeks to show something beyond the surface, even (possibly particularly) when claiming not to do so. By creating a surface, the painter also creates depth.