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Cold and impersonal.

I’ll put a couple of my own pieces on the record in order to raise some issues that may remain prominent.

One of my main interests in Modernism arose, I think, when as a youth, studying art and literature, and with an interest in philosophy, I developed a sense that impersonality and a certain detachment counted for a lot in these fields of activity. It seemed to me that the great artists and writers of the time (the first half of the twentieth century) were fundamentally trying to achieve a kind of objectivity in their work. The work itself could be personal, in that it came from an individual, but it also rose above the limitations of the individual self. In fact, the art I seemed to come to admire may even have aspired to greater things, or to be associated with greater things, such as Giotto’s or Michelangelo’s works were once associated with religion or, in the nineteenth century, Cezanne’s work was seen to be foregrounding new ways of seeing and of working. These artists did’nt depend on the personal for the value of the work, even though, as individuals, they all contributed to the development of art in a highly individual way This was art that saw itself as, shall we say, ‘profound’ and no mere ‘expression’ of an individual consciousness.

So, I see some of this in the early history of abstract art, with the strenuous emphasis that was put on religious feeling, with art as a vehicle for this. We might name Mondrian, but then we could name almost any of the early abstract modernists.

The two pieces represented here are both carved in this spirit. I like the impersonality and detachment – the work is not directly about me, and the forms, if they work, are almost entirely non-objective. The pieces are, in that sense, cold, even pristine. If anything, it is a stepping beyond the self that drives the pieces, not expression of it.