Saturday, 23 May 2015

Wreck On The Highway

Charcoal on paper

Abandoned on the side road that snakes around the back of the college where I work there is currently a burnt out shell of a car. It is just a hollowed out shell too, with nothing remaining of the insides and barely anything left of the wheels. I was shocked when I first encountered it, as one can’t but project all sorts of grim and violent narratives onto such an object. I found myself compelled to take a few photographs of it as a record, wondering, I must admit, if such a thing had any potential to be developed into a painting that had a place in this current series that is evolving about abandoned vehicles. Not coming across scenes like this very often, it seemed to good an opportunity not to record it before it was removed.

I was surprised to see it still there nearly two weeks later, and decided to visit the site again under cover of darkness to take some further photographs of it illuminated under the streetlight above. I’ve started now to attempt some drawings from these, above which is one of them, to explore whether it has any potential as a subject. I’m aware that it is a bit extreme, which is not something I am normally attracted to.  It just seems to fit right now, and that’s enough. I don’t think it’s good to analyse things while you are making them. There should be some mystery. 
 John Salt, 'Desert Wreck', airbrushed paint on canvas, 1972
Andy Warhol, 'Green Car Crash', silkscreen on canvas, 1963

Of course, I’m reminded of John Salt’s photo-realist paintings of car wrecks in American trailer parks, or even Andy Warhol’s paintings of car crashes, so I’m in good company.

And of course the title for this post references Springsteen’s great and bleak song of the same name from the magnificent ‘The River’ album. Side two of that record has many dark songs, including ‘Stolen Car’ which I referenced in my recent exhibition at Rugby Museum and Art Gallery.

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