In search of a lie which shows the truth

Martin Kinnear on the fine art of deception and sifting palatable lies from hard truths for the liberal elite.

Long Shadow © Martin Kinnear 2022 oil painting on canvas
Long Shadow © Martin Kinnear 2022

There's no getting around it, there's too much veracity these days - too many webcams, dash cams, CC TV cams and visual proof of everything - and its getting me down. It's as if we've all swallowed the lie that how something looks is what it means - I'm inclined to blame the BP portrait awards and their facile approval of painting which looks just the same as photos. Really? As if what we see is real.

Ask a dozen people what the saw and you'll get at least a dozen versions of events, and that's the point if there is one of being a visual artist - making my version of events as I recall them.

So I'm painting a series of works from memory to get closer to the truth, actually I think exorcising is nearer the mark than painting, but paintings they are, about the industrial valleys I used to call home, because they've become something of a metaphor for me. A metaphor about looking but failing to see.

Gutter oil painting  © Martin Kinnear 2022
Gutter © Martin Kinnear 2022

I'm not into that art club stuff about representational art, sight size drawing and all of that nonsense about painting how things look - if that's your measure of success we can never be friends and quite honestly - buy a camera.

No I'm talking about what things are - what you know to be true, isn't the same as what something looks like. Matisse could have told you that, or Picasso, Bacon, Cezanne .. dear God how we forget...

You'll have to forgive me, it's been a long week and I'm wrestling with half a dozen canvases to try and paint some truth into them. They are paintings about the industrial margins and how those unlovely urban sprawls are the seed of discontent.

JB Priestly wrote of my part of the world that it had an ugliness which almost defied people to live there - decaying mills, the flotsam of industry and the rows of cheap housing thrown up to satisfy the appetite of Empire for coal and cotton.

Born Guilty © Martin Kinnear 2022 oil painting
Born Guilty © Martin Kinnear 2022

I think the idea that a town defies you to live there is unwitting testimony to a middle class presumption of choice. Nobody chooses to be working class, or poor, or dependent on food banks - but there you have it - the misunderstanding at the heart of the liberal elite in a nutshell.

And that's what the project is all about, how we look and fail to see. Fail to see why the North voted for the Tories, failed to see why my region got behind Brexit, failed to see that the places we compel people to live in, determine whom they become.

Estate oil painting  © Martin Kinnear 2022
Estate © Martin Kinnear 2022

Beware of the places we make because before you know it places make people.

Martin kinnear oil painting detail of gutter 2022 © Martin Kinnear
detail of gutter © Martin Kinnear 2022

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