September 10 - October 8, 2022
Two years ago when lock down started I was in my studio working and I thought that I have the one profession that is very suited for isolation. It did not seem like a big change for me. Painters spend hours, days, months alone. Around that time I was hearing how people were wanting to make artwork reflecting what was going on in the world. I was in my studio working and I thought to myself there is no way I would let a pandemic enter my work. I was not a painter who had an interest in such things. They were too literal. I was perfectly content with the problems of my painting in the world of my studio. And in no way would I let it enter my work.
As the weeks went on scarcity of goods became an issue for everyone. I soon found out that even though I had chosen to not let COVID into my work it was now out of my hands. Visiting my art material supplier I quickly found that the panels, paint and other materials that had been carefully chosen from years of practice were now not available. For the first time in my life I had no materials to work with. Jackson Pollock once so impoverished used bank deposit slips to draw on. An artist finds a way. Driving back to my studio empty handed I was stopped at a set of lights and I glanced to the side of the road. I noticed an old sandwich board laying in the ditch. The colours I had gone to my art store to buy were on the old worn sign. I pulled over and took a close look at it. Instantly I saw my paintings right in front of me. Since I could not buy my colours finding them became the only option. Taking the sign back to my studio I disassembled it and cut it down. Removing its meaning and reinvesting a new meaning into it. The signs that were used to draw us into shops had now lost their meaning with lockdown. We could no longer go into the stores. This new addition into my pairings made me realize that I was making art work that was directly influenced by what was happening in the world.
There is a thread that goes through the story of painting and we have measuring sticks in Art History that continue on as work shifts and changes. Philip Guston once said that he has always made the same painting. The look of painting can change but the Artists eye is ever present and their search is continuous. One can look at an etching by Rembrandt and Picasso and see that they are both exceptional. Their styles look nothing alike but the qualities one wants in Art are there. My work has shifted over the years as my Painters eye has found new things. Years ago I would go to hardware stores and buy mistints. The choice of colour was decided for me. I liked the idea of bringing something that I would not choose into my work. Using discarded signs has the same appeal for me. Paintings are determined by what I come across in my journeys. This new body of work has expanded my picture making into a series that has opened up a world that without the pandemic would never have happened.
Curtis Cutshaw, 2022