A sure sign that I am too busy to think is an absence of posts specifically on art. It’s a vicious circle. When you’re busy making there’s no time for looking. But looking is an important part of the whole creative process. I don’t mean looking to find things to copy; I mean looking as a way of sparking other ideas about entirely different ways of resolving a problem and looking to keep in touch with what’s on Out There. It would be nice if reading were enough when pressed for time, but it’s not. There is no substitute for trailing round galleries and museums and outside in the world in general to keep the wells of creativity full to overflowing.
Anyway, when I was away the other week I did manage one pleasant day wandering around many, many galleries, so it hasn’t been a completely hermetic month. In the course of my ambling, I came upon an exhibition Dogs Gods at Bailly Contemporain by the British photographer Tim Flach.
I’d not heard of him, and I can’t imagine how he has escaped my notice. The Dogs Gods exhibition of photos of dogs was brilliant. The (slightly poor) image above is titled Topiary. It made me laugh out loud. With amusement and admiration.
Depicting animals successfully is not easy, particularly if you want to avoid an over-sentimentalised image. I can remember being set a painting exercise years ago on this very theme, and it’s as hard to do a great painting of a cute animal as it is to do a great portrait of a beautiful child. The thing I loved about Flach’s work was the deft humour of the imagery alongside a very contemporary visual language. These dogs had attitude and pride and hauteur, despite manipulation by the photographer. Even if you can’t get to see his work in a gallery, his particularly cool website shows his work beautifully.