Damage, 2014

Damage, 2014
Acrylic paint, inkjet print, collage
© Richard Guest 2014

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In 1953, Robert Rauschenberg erased a drawing by Willem de Kooning. He wanted to bring drawing into the “all whites” (he was making completely white paintings at the time). He had been making drawings himself and erasing them. But they just looked like erased Rauschenbergs. It just looked like nothing to him and he realised the drawing had to begin as “art”. For it to be an important piece, Rauschenberg decided it had to be a de Kooning (who was an incredibly important painter at that time). Rauschenberg bought a bottle of Jack Daniels and knocked on de Kooning’s door. He prayed that the other artist would not be at home and that the attempt would be the work. But de Kooning was at home. After a few awkward moments, Rauschenberg told de Kooning what he had in mind. de Kooning said he understood what Rauschenberg wanted to do, but that he was opposed to the idea. Rauschenberg hoped that de Kooning would refuse, and that the attempt to win de Kooning over would be the work. But then de Kooning said, “OK, but I want it to be something I’ll miss. I want to give you something really difficult to erase.” He gave Rauschenberg a drawing made with charcoal, oil paint, pencil, and crayon. Rauschenberg spent a month erasing the drawing.  When it was done, he asked Jasper Johns to write an inscription, which would form a label for the drawing. He wrote: Erased de Kooning Drawing, Robert Rauschenberg, 1953. The drawing was framed in a simple gilded frame. It is now in the collection of SF MoMA.

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Every Colour You Are, 2014- Every Colour You Are, 2014 -

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Damage, Every Colour You Are and Blinding Light of Heaven are all tracks from David Sylvian and Robert Fripp’s album, Damage (2001). You can listen to the title track here.

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Blinding Light of Heaven, 2014- The Blinding Light of Heaven, 2014 -

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Modern art to me is nothing more than the expression of contemporary aims of the age that we’re living in…The thing that interests me is that today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. They work from a different source. They work from within.

(from an untransmitted interview with Jackson Pollock for Sag Harbor radio station, 1950)

Street Portrait (for and of George), 2014- Street Portrait (for and of George), 2014 -

Shelton Street is just on the edge of Theatreland and a stone’s throw from Seven Dials. The Cambridge Theatre backs onto it, its stage door right opposite one of the bigger art stores in town: The London Graphic Centre. Whenever my circuit takes me to Covent Garden I make a point of trawling Shelton Street on the off-chance I’ll run into an actor or two. It’s never happened, but the other day I did spot George. I loved his sense of style and he was good enough to let me take a couple of shots. Thanks very much for stopping, George! Hope you like your picture.

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Street Portrait (for and of George) #2, 2014

Street Portrait (for and of George) #2, 2014

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Street Portrait (for and of Amy), 2014

- Street Portrait (for and of Amy), 2014 -

I spotted Amy a very long time before I got to take her photograph. She was one of the first people that day I knew I wanted to photograph, but she was on the phone so I left it – didn’t want to disturb her. Eventually she disappeared into the crowd. A little while later, I spotted her again, but she was too far away for me to reach without really legging it and I just didn’t have the energy that day. Eventually, after a pretty fruitless hour, I ran into Amy on Great Queen Street and she was great about having her photograph taken. This was the final shot and is my favourite. Thanks very much, Amy! Hope you like your picture.

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SONY DSCThe World In Amy’s Sunglasses, 2014

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Self-portrait with tree and woman, 2014- Self-portrait with tree and woman, 2014 -

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Street Portrait (for and of Joshua), 2014- Street Portrait (for and of Joshua), 2014 -

Joshua was busy trying to find his way somewhere, when I bounded up to him and asked if I could take his portrait. He said yes, and then immediately turned to the side. It was such an interesting approach, and all the subsequent shots where I put myself in front of him weren’t as good. So, this is the first shot and my favourite. Thanks very much for stopping, Joshua! Hope you like your picture.

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Street Portrait (for and of Vicky), 2014- Street Portrait (for and of Vicky), 2014 -

One day last week, I decided on a different approach. Instead of wandering the streets, I would choose a spot and stay there for half an hour in the hope that the interesting shots would come to me. And I nearly managed it – my itchy feet took me down a few side streets, but I mainly stuck to the bit of Neal Street outside Urban Outfitters. And I didn’t get a single shot until right near the end of the time, when I spotted Vicky. I really liked her style – like a lot of the people I photograph she seemed to inhabit her image – I got the impression I was seeing the real Vicky. And she was lovely about being photographed. This is the first of two shots, and my favourite. Thanks very much for stopping, Vicky! Hope you like your picture.

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Street Portrait (for and of Francesca), 2014- Street Portrait (for and of Francesca), 2014 -

It seemed like the first mild, sunny Spring day of the year. I’d just set foot on Great Queen Street, when I spotted Francesca walking towards me. She was great about agreeing to a few shots. I loved her look, and didn’t want to lose the textures in the background – it’s a visually busy street, so we used the side of a van as a neutral backdrop. This was the fourth shot and is my favourite. Thanks very much for stopping, Francesca! Hope you like your picture.

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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Street Portrait (for and of Hiro), 2014- Street Portrait (for and of Hiro), 2014 -

It was a funny day. The camera and I were not getting on as we usually do – I was ham-fisted, impatient and unfairly demanding. The camera was sulky, awkward and unfocussed. We had both pretty much thrown in the towel, when I spotted Hiro. I loved the way he was dressed and he was great about letting me take his photograph. What I did wrong I don’t know. The first two shots of Hiro were perfectly in focus. This is the third – it’s a bit “off”. Technically, it’s wrong, but it’s so much righter than the previous two shots – I think the softness lends the shot a bit of warmth and life. Anyway, thanks very much for stopping, Hiro! Hope you like your picture.

A few yards after leaving Hiro, I discovered the reason for the softness of the shot and corrected it. Minutes later, I found myself staring at Hiro’s name…

Hiro, 2014- Hiro, 2014 -

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self. If you would like to see more of my black and white photography, I have a picture in Leanne Cole and Laura Macky’s Monochrome Madness over on Leanne’s superb blog.

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SONY DSC- Street Portrait (for and of Charlie McDonald), 2014 -

I was on Floral Street. Years ago, when I had the money I sometimes shopped there and I like to revisit old haunts even if I can no longer participate in any meaningful way. Charlie McDonald was walking towards me as I considered making for more familiar ground. So I switched tack, marched up to him and asked for a photograph. And to my relief he said yes. I loved his incredible scarf (well the whole look really). The first shot is the last one I took, and the second one is the first. Thanks very much for stopping, Charlie! Hope you like your pictures.

Street Portrait (for and of Charlie McDonald) #2, 2014- Street Portrait (for and of Charlie McDonald) #2, 2014 -

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If you are at all interested in self-portraits, I strongly recommend you visit Strata of the Self.

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SONY DSC

Richard and I have just completed another collaboration. To see the results, please visit Richard’s quite superb blog, CK Ponderings.

Here’s a sneak preview of one of my images to whet your appetite…

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