As far as I can see Retna really does well with codified graffiti. He keeps to the true spirit of graffiti in his canvas work. The work is luxurious and leaves the viewer open to meaning. When I look at some of my friends work it is based on stories. These stories are based on comic books but in a way slip over into his life. For instance the apocalyptic landscapes are similar to his job which is going through hard rubbish for furniture items and other things he can sell. That is definitely the difference, in a way my friend lives his stories or comics and that is his expression. It got me thinking about my own stories and how they feed into my canvas work and vice versa. It made me realise maybe I need to keep the stories out of my paintings. Especially after seeing Retna. There are still stories in Retna’s work but they are bigger than simply bohemian slumming.
I am going to make my new paintings abstract as in based on figuration but abstracted in that they may be strips of video stills stacked onto each other to lose the literal story. I need to keep stories in my books and writing and leave them out of art because they are starting to feel limiting. I have already made seven paintings that are story based so the last three need to be abstract and in some way I will codify the figuration. I have an idea in mind which I can see holes in but I have faith in the process. I need to aim higher than simply everyday stories in my painting. When you see great painting it can lift you and that is what I want. I think the grittiness will remain but it won’t be literal. Lets see how this goes over the next few months.
So in a way some painters are storytellers and it spills over into their lives and others are abstract in that they leave the figurative behind hopefully bringing a larger perspective. Both need to expand the viewers world and understanding. Me and my friend have been lost in our mutant comic book lifestyles. Sounds weird but it is how we are and we need to expand our horizons or be trapped in our own stories.