February 2016

When I saw ‘The Golden Age of Collage: 1916-1950’ at the Mayor Gallery in the summer of 1987, the collages liberated something in me. Europe in the 20’s and 30’s seemed so experimental, so enticing in every way, I often hankered to have been of that time. Most striking was Hannah Hoch’s ‘Dada/Constructivist Composition’ 1924. Unpretentiously clunky yet elegantly poised, it has a deceptive sophistication. On occasion, when trying too hard, I tried to emulate it but learned that this was not possible, not for me anyway. It was of another hand and all I could do was to enjoy it.

Collage is my medium. The papers I use are found and they have had lives, imbued by their mottled, faded hues and chaotic detritus of marks. They bring with them their own accounts and they all have an alluring muscle, enticing me. I have to be careful how I work with them. The best consequences are always a compromise; not too much of them, not too much of me and somehow we find an equilibrium.

The Black Bubbleicious is my latest game of give and take. I have been searching for these black forms and they are my Aces of Spades. That of a dog- eared deck of cards, all fingered and used, they are all a bit sullied. Whilst Matisse’s ‘Blue Nudes’ 1952 have always been an inspiration, my homage counterpoints their laid back elegance with a seedy sassy-ness, perhaps funkier in attitude.

Brassai’s ‘Paris by Night’ images – like ‘Belle de Nuit’ 1932 – were never far from my thoughts. The brassy, shape-full figurines, starkly lit, asymmetric and humbly exotic. Malevich’s ‘Black Cross’ 1923 and his disregard for pictorial conventions was ever present and some of Guston’s self-portraits (‘Head’ 1975) also began to appear as silhouettes.

Out of this fug of acknowledgement, textures, cuts and curves comes a collection of mongrel-like appeal – at times devilish, at times comic – but, hopefully, with a discordant oneness, with a hint of another time and place.

Paul Deller, 2015