“Jowe’s House” by Christina Crimari: The Carl Larsson Approach to a Modern Subject
More recently (the time of writing being November 2020), I completed work on a project of mine called “Jowe’s House”, which had been a year in the making.
This project was never foisted on me; I worked on it purely because I wanted to, and not because I had to. Rather than being a necessary evil, it was something which grew, and developed, and matured, and unfolded exactly as it ought, in complete independence of any sort of deadline.
Back in November 2019, I was nearing the end of a singularly frustrating period, during which I had experienced an extended artistic drought, and doggedly pursued an unfulfilling career in administration, since everybody else seemed to think this would be a good idea. Frankly, it was like harnessing a full-blood Arab to a rag-and-bone cart, or a meteor to your average chunk of space debris. After being fired 3 times in the space of 6 months, I realized this line of work clearly wasn’t working for me, and had to rethink my priorities very quickly.
At the same time, Art was beginning to edge its way back into my life again, and the advent of lockdown sealed the deal, in terms of determining my destiny. All in all, it can be safely said that the project pretty much wrote itself.
Not having done Art for some 5 years previously was not in and of itself an impediment to progress, and may even have enhanced my work. For me, drawing is like riding a bike, and something I never forget. However, I did want to produce something distinctly different to my previous work. I flatly refuse to be pigeonholed, and my roaming mind is consistently on a quest for the new - and fresh, challenging subject-matter.
This period also marked the start of my working with UV paints. Personally, I prefer working with mixed media, since it gives a more dynamic result. I am a fan of certain extremes - particularly the quality of lighting conditions, the ambient light, whether there are dark shadows thrown, etc. etc. I love stark blacks and stark whites, but also like to juxtapose these with saturated colours, and sharpen up the focus with finely drawn pencil detail. This technique has been said to endow my work with “graphic novel” qualities - which I proudly take as a compliment.
“Jowe’s House” is a series of paintings of artefacts and scenes from cult punk figure, artist and musician Jowe Head. We are treated to a journey within Jowe’s lively mind, as our gaze moves over drawings of his sculptures, and the collections of found objects from which they are made, often to be dismantled and refashioned at a later date; figurines of every kind of material, displayed on high shelves, or in dark nooks and crannies; the front door - decidedly not your average bear of a door - inviting one in to scenes from a rainbow-coloured, joyful, magical and eclectic world.
For me, this kind of environment was right up my street, due to the singular level of complexity within it, which tempted me. It was sufficiently inspiring and challenging enough for me to want to draw everything within a particular viewpoint, and I do mean everything - and I am pedantic enough to want to do so. My brain is never happier than when I am forced to disentangle the complicated visual subject-matter in front of me, and if this means painting a box crammed full with objects, or multitudinous interweaving branches (see another of my projects, Shelter, which uses a similar painting technique, but applied to landscape https://www.crimari.com/shelter ) - then so be it.
In the early days of this project, with a number of ideas jostling for space in my brain, it occurred to me that some of them could very well benefit from an approach similar to that of Carl Larsson, and his work. For those of you who don’t know, Carl Larsson was a Swedish, late Victorian painter whose very popular and detailed series of paintings of his family and home (an Arts-and-Crafts style Mecca, and period piece), were a roaring success.
Tackling the larger scenes in this manner enabled me to flex my perspective drawing muscles, and be selective about my attention to detail. During my youth, I used to spend so long capturing the details of one individual object, that I would frequently paint one subject only within a painting. Nowadays, I am aware that this, as well as the world, is not enough for me; it’s not only closeups, but also middle-and long-range views, which float my boat at this present time.
It has been said that this collection of works is “wonderful art, about art”. That is exactly so; but to confirm, I invite you to view the full array of works at https://www.crimari.com/jowe-s-house .