Show: Untitled (Telecaster). Magnus Quaife.
Tell: “This painting is part of a series called 1968 and other myths that began as the 40th anniversary of May 1968 approached; familiar images that had become the stuff of myth began to re-circulate in the print and broadcast media, and in every rhizomic end of the Internet (from local blogs to international news outlets).
“It is a watercolour painting of two images of the guitarist David Gilmour, one just before he joined Pink Floyd in 1967 and one just after in 1968. In both he is playing a Fender Telecaster guitar. The image was split as you see it in the painting when I found it and I think you can tell the image on the left is Gilmour, the one on the right looks more like Jimmy Page as it did in the source photo. On first seeing the image I imagined that they were playing 1968 telecasters. It wasn’t until a guitarist friend of mine told me that Page never played a Tele’ that researched the image and discovered who it was.
“The images had a second life detached from their initial incarnations circulating in ways that were not possible the first time around. Often they were accompanied by a commentary that exposed the layered dissemination of the image as a third, fourth, or even fifth hand account (ad infinitum) of the events depicted. Painting provided a way of extracting the images from this circulation, allowing a different kind of focus in time – both because the act of painting has a different time to that of photography and the media (making time, thinking time), and because they were being made again as something new in a different time.
“Amongst the images that you might imagine you would find in archives, books, and on the Internet relating to 1968 (student uprisings in Paris, the Prague Spring, the Mexico Olympics etc.) there were also those that related to lesser moments, non-events, and forgotten people that don’t resonate in the same way, images of Miss Iceland, award ceremonies, snap shots etc. This image is, I suppose, somewhere in between; Pink Floyd still have many fans, but there isn’t the same power that is associated with, for example, images of the violence of a riot or of the Vietnam war. It offered the series a focus on a different aspect of the cultural events a moment of rock and roll that undermines the historicizing of the other works.
“There are two distinct starting points for me in most of my paintings; one is the starting point that leads to selecting an image to paint, and the other is how I actually start the painting. The nature of watercolour, in which the white of the paper provides the white in the painting, often requires an understanding of negative space and a slightness of touch. Often what you don’t paint becomes as important as what you do, so in this image most of the guitars, the faces, the torso on the figure on the left and the pattern on the shirt on the right have no paint on them. Somehow, that excites me.”
Info: Magnus Quaife lives and works in Manchester, UK. His solo show, 1968 & other Myths, opens at WORKS|PROJECTS, Bristol from 5th May to 16th June 2012.
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