An artist who I have been inspired by recently in my practice is Bob and Roberta Smith.
The piece I did which I was most influenced by Bob and Roberta Smith was the piece I featured in my last blog post. The piece is painted in acrylic onto cardboard and has a three coloured background. When I began this piece I didn’t know what the final outcome would look like, I then began to write whatever came to me, which at the time was simply, “I don’t know what to write”. I then carried on with some ideas of what I could write in the future. Because my studio practice at that time was based mainly around pizza one of the ideas included “pizza toppings”. This piece has a red, blue and purple background with white lettering. The letters are in capitals and I made sure they were all even and used one brush width as I wrote the words. I also chose to have the words not fit the lines perfectly which left some of the words cut in half. This was linking the piece also to Christopher Wool, another artist I have been inspired by recently.
Much of Bob and Roberta Smith’s work consists of political statements, and he aims to make a point with every piece he creates. With my work I am writing words which relate to me in someway but I don’t want to make any political statements or write about anything in particular as I am more interested in the process of writing each letter. This is why I decided to make a time lapse video of me writing onto a white board which showed me writing each word and also I am able to show how I didn’t plan the piece beforehand as to where each word was going to be written. I had some words written in a small A5 sketchbook which is a book I practice my calligraphy in and so I took some of the words from there. I also thought of a lot of the words on the spot before writing them.
Bob and Roberta Smith wants to get his thoughts and ideas out into the world and does this through his paintings, often large scale. As you can see from the previous piece I spoke about I have also been using painting as a technique, but I have also been experimenting with screen printing, hand lettering using pens and pencils and I am also interested in trying some digitally drawn words on my iPad and laser cutting them.
One of Bob and Roberta Smith’s best known pieces is Letter to Michael Gove’ (2011). This piece was done mainly for one person: Michael Gove. And it raised his concerns about how art is an important part of society, especially in schools. Even though he wrote this mainly for one person, it is still effective as a piece of art in its own right. I think having a big area filled with text is quite powerful and something I would like to try in the future.
I think the significance of Bob and Roberta Smith’s work is that he gets his opinions out there for people to see. Even if people don’t agree with some of the statements he makes they can still enjoy his work as an art form. For my practice I think the significance is building a portfolio of myself by writing different words in different styles and techniques. If I choose to cover a wall for my degree show with words and signs I have been making, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to read every word. This links to my screen prints where I have been building up layers on top of each other, some of the first layers are hardly visible and so the words are no longer there to be able to read them, but they are still there as an indexical trace.