Alan Connor header image 4

Entries from July 1999

City and Guilds Degree Show June 1999- Artist’s Statement

‘The sublime, tragic and problematic take shape precisely in the domestic and commonplace.’

(Auerbach, E., Mimesis, 1953 Princeton University Press, p.103)

A shopping trolley; graffiti inscribed on a railway bridge; bright cars viewed through a cab window, telegraph wires drawing lines across the sky; figures manoeuvring in the aisles of a supermarket; the patchwork that asphalt, tarmac and markings make on the surface of a road; a petrol station forecourt occupied by a solitary car and driver; a woman unloading her basket at the checkout; commuters staring intently at the train departures board.

Underpinning the imagery in my work is the idea that familiar and prosaic events and places are always potentially extraordinary and strange. I am interested in how the litany of the everyday can be transformed into something momentarily sublime.

In order to explore this, I make work in a variety of media: charcoal drawings, oil paintings, monoprints and etchings. Within each medium, I have tried to find a formal quality that echoes and expresses my subject matter. The drawings are monotone with torn tissue paper collage and/or marks in oil paint – flashes of colour. Black and white distance the viewer in terms of time whilst the coloured elements jolt the drawing back into the urban present. The paintings are thinly painted, sometimes with areas of canvas or linen left raw, in order to suggest the transitory, fragmentary nature of the moment I am depicting. The etchings combine hard ground graphic lines with soft ground marks and aquatint to convey something of the paradox of the banal: linear and straight, yet able to blur and shift into a different imaginative space.

In many of my pieces figures are semi-obscured or moving out of view. There are windows and mirrors, motifs borrowed both from the history of painting and contemporary television and film. I have tried to make the space outside the limits of the support dynamic in the hope that viewers will want to look again at how the city is framed – – how the lines of a heater on the back of a car window intersect with the city outside; or just how fragile people look in the supermarket, aisle after aisle, reaching out for the next item to put in the trolley.

Tags: City and Guilds of London Art School