Stephen Riley art works in progress. Clockwise from top left: Garage Band, I Can I Can't, Deep Thought in the Age of Celebrity
Working on these paintings in my studio (the artists’ studios at Woodend Mill in Mossley, Tameside). Of the paintings shown as ‘new works’ in my online gallery, two are here: I Can I Can’t (the one with the asterisks/stars on it) and Garage Band (the one with the yellow stripes) (do have a look – check out the changes). I was not satisfied with them and have been working on moving them on for some time now. The dotted painting has not yet been completed (even temporarily), but being very intricate, it is taking a long time to paint.
I Can I Can’t and Garage Band (which, as they shift towards new ideas, might not keep those titles) have been overlaid with various additional layers of paint and are now the subject both of scratching-out and reworking. This is pretty typical of what I do: ideas start with only a partial notion of the outcome - which may or may not work, once I get there - and destroying, reworking and remaking are routine. I enjoy the idea of paintings re/presenting their own history. This can be connected to my interest in architecture; the pleasure I take in seeing human history recorded in the environments we build for ourselves. It is also visible in much of the work I like. I always liked the way you could see the under-layers left visible in Max Beckmann's paintings, and in later developments (e.g. Tapies and Ryman), where the painting wears its materiality and making process as part of what it communicates.
The dot painting has changed in more subtle ways: layers of colour have been built up and tones and hues have shifted, as the need to adjust relationships between them has become visible. At the back of my mind, this painting seems to have something to do with the volume, intensity and superficiality of the information we are bombarded with. It may be called something like Deep Thought in the Age of Celebrity.
The shots are just phone photographs, so quality is not great.