Category Archives: JAB

Authors’ Authority.

 

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent is a good mantra.

I was born Peter D. O’Kennedy (http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/an-sloinne-o-cinneide-the-surname-kennedy/ ) in Glasgow Royal Infirmary most definitely of Celtic descent. My paternal grandparents came from Cork & Limerick.

Since I left school in 1969 I been trying to ‘make a name for myself’. But I already have a name, so really there’s no need to make another (anudda). Once again I have to tell maself to STOP, just be your-self. And that’s what I am best at.

Recently whilst negotiating an article for JAB about Dieter Roth and how he far outstrips most all other ‘artist-book’ makers they suggested I focus the writing around my own work. POW, off I went into a piece about some of the great German artists and writers who have impressed upon my work which was published in JAB 38 http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/ . I watched Bob Geldoff’s tele-piece on W B Yeats last night. It was very revealing and helped me to understand the poet/writer better than before. I went to bed thinking, ‘Well that explains some of my own passion and drive…It’s the Oirisht in me…it’s a cultural ting’. I slept a couple of hours and at 02.30 hours came down and wrote this, “I was born in Glasgow Infirmary of Celtic descent. I have 3 books I must achieve:

  • The Shrewd Idiot (SI)
  • Squidgeratscrawls (Sqasc)
  • Genie Ass (G.ass)

I am collating SI. It’s a labourious process but that’s by choice.

Sqasc should be more joyfull.

G.ass is going to be done in 5 or 6 parts, should be ‘fun’.

Then I can re-lease my-self to do the other books that I wish to achieve, some more spontaneous, others from already existing notes & ideas. I don’t care about the audience, just want to achieve them. ASAP.”

Then I returned to bed til about 7.30 am.

a title page for si
an unusual page from SI cos it’s actually typed into the manuscript, most pages are pcopies of old typed pages.

Last week I spoke about my work on the new SI. Am onto page 22 of 252 jpegs to vire over into ma layout. It is quite slow. But I do keep doing other tings. On Saturday I ran off to Tate Britain on a mission where I was surprised to see a painting by Tagore done in 1939! I would like to show you it but, as usual, you cannot take photos in these exhibitions, so everyone loses. I wished to suss out the Susan Philipsz very touching and evocative sound material made on instruments damaged by wars. I had an idea to ask the Tate if I can use a space there to do my Somme Boys Performance Art piece, but you know what it’s like, they’d say who are you/ are you already famous? And there’s no room at the inn fer yo laddie. I have approached the set up that supports Susan Philipsz installation, 14-18now, but am not holding ma breath. Here’s what I sent em:

 

“A Commemoration of the Somme

haunted warrior ww1
ww1 veteran

Performance Art Proposal from Pete Kennedy

I have an idea for a piece of PA which I would like you to consider.

I visited Susan Philipsz’ lovely sound art at Tate yesterday and I noticed lots of empty spaces which I could use to do my piece. I am not thinking it could be done just at Tate but anywhere, in any town or city. I understand that you back things which commemorate WW1? I have also got an idea for an artist’s book about the Somme.

I have chosen the Somme because hundreds of men from my home town of Burnley were killed there.

I am an artist aged 65 who recently acquired an MA in Bookarts and have moved into Performance art after doing a course with Jurgen Fritz & Vest + Page at Glastonbury.

I shall make the book and do the performance art about Somme come what may but I would much appreciate it if you would support my work.

It can be done very simply with few props or a big BLOW-OUT version which would involve a mound of (something like) mud and a structure to represent a trench with inter-connecting ‘tunnel’. I have musicians who can create site specific sound.

This is developing daily as I realize more. For example, when I worked with Jurgen last October I realised I must not make it just a memory of the British losses, the Germans suffered too.

Yesterday at Tate’s ‘Artist & Empire’ I saw a double portrait by Philip de Laszlo of two Indian (Sikh?) officers, Jagat & Man Singh, who were painted shortly before they went to the Somme. It said that 1 in 6 of the allied force came from India. So now I must play ‘Tommy’, ‘Otto’ (and maybe ‘Singh’?) in my PA.

Namaste”

Then I moved on up to the British Library to see if I could find a copy of the Burnley Express that I saw in 1970 which was from c1916-18 and every page was full of obituaries to the dead men from the town. I want to use those pages in a ‘book’ I want to make for my tribute to those who fell at the Somme form all parts of the planet. I can’t trace the darned ting, I know it’s out there. If only they still had hard copy I could go to a library and rifle thru! I shouldn’t be considering doing books and performance art about the Somme, I got enough to do, but It’s The Way I Tell ‘Em!

Footnote to Joey B. “I was always told ‘Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent: The Arsenal.’”  David Rocastle ex-player. I think young Joey Barton should listen to David. Concentrate on playing good football Joey not jumping all over the opponent’s leg.

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My German ‘gHosts’.

All of a sudden my life is beginning to happen. ‘It’s almost as if the stars are tangled in a ghostly spider’s web. The whole network is beginning to glow, to pulse with light, exactly as if it were alive…’ (p. 166, Tom Wolfe in Cool Aid Acid Test).

I spent 65 years ‘trying’ to ‘get there’ and suddenly somehow I arrive! Like Clementine, I’m on tea & croissants. On Friday night last when I turned on the Mercury prize I discovered a man/voice which was as big a revelation to me as hearing Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on vinyl way back in 1968 on an old Dancette record player exactly like this one.a dancette

Benjamin Clementine was chosen as the top album (?) and what a phenomenon!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a68KJWe_Tfk

Although I am not a phenomenon I did surprise a few folk at the IPA fortnight (http://www.ipapress.i-pa.org/official-news/ipa-autumn-2015-official-news/great-blog-from-pete-kennedy-about-ipa-autumn-2015/  recently but I been a long time gestating. During the time of my ‘working life’ I never ‘made it’, that’s for sure, partly cos I were too busy working for a living. But I never gave up my pursuit of the goal which was to make a mark on the consciousness of the era in which I have lived.

It was a long hard battle. I wrote, I painted, I did graphics (‘comic’, caricature and stuff) and I drew. I drew cos I could. I actually draw because of the battle I had to fight to acquire the ability to draw. It wasn’t easy cos as a 16 year old I was cack-handed (kakˈhandɪd; ‘clumsy, awkward or inept way of doing something; originally meaning left handed’, in other words I couldn’t draw for toffee but now I’m ambidextrous and am proud of that. Although I perform across a number of media it was the ability to draw which I chased hard until I achieved a certain skill which allowed me to draw the likes of Feliks Topolski, Miriam Patchen and more recently Vest & Page.

When Richard Morphet, the then Keeper of the Modern Collection at Tate, said to me in c. 1994, ‘Your work has a very German feel’, I think he was referring to the new breed from Germany like ‘upside down man’ Baselitz, yes there was a similarity but it stemmed from our all having the same influences in art history. Here’s one of my portraits (of Michael McKell actually) showing the similarity in technique. This is one of the illustrations which are reproduced beautifully in my article in JAB38 but here I am showing it in colour, it needs colour as does much of my oeuvre.

Michael McKell lino cut, black & brown

When Brad Freeman gave the go ahead on my article for the Journal of Artists Books (JAB http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/) and I pondered on being asked to feature my own work, mainly in book and print but also in paint, and those who had inspired, directed and influenced it. It soon became apparent that many of them were of German origin. My father and his father’s generation had been embroiled in war with Germany yet I was inspired by so many German artists and writers. Significantly many of my influences had been on the Nazi regime’s list of ‘degenerate art’. The writer, artist and mountain walker Hermann Hesse, significantly, even stood up against the First World War. Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys all had to cope in their various ways with having been born in Germany and the aftermath stigma of the Third Reich.

a The scale is the result of the dance

my portrait of Anselm Kiefer

Luckily my embroilment has been with the positive creative side of the German spirit. The list is long and the work they did will give insight into my own output, about which the article will further inform you. Beneath German military imperialism lays a deeper current, German humanism as manifested in the work of writers like Hesse, Walser and Klee, each has had a profound effect on my work/output which I shall be linking to the work of the following artists showing how they have had an impact on my thinking:

Expressionists; Shmidt-Rotluf, Franz Marc (Post Card To Prince Jussuf), Kokoshka with his very literature base and liberal brush.

Dada etc; Max Ernst Collage books (La Femme 100 tetes) and his Livres d’artists,

Bauhaus; Klee, Schlemmer

Post war; Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys

Add to these Munch and Soutine, both of whom have a similar ‘feel’ and indeed the former certainly influenced the Expressionists. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=expressionist+painters

*Kokoshka was born in Austria but was associated with German Expressionism and dada.

Wikipedia says that Kokoschka (who became involved with Performance Art) was a master of ‘innovative oil painting techniques anchored in earlier traditions’ which resonates with my lifelong observation  about ‘art’ or rather  ‘the creative process’ passing down a (transcendent) chain or  down a line/ lineage.

I see my portraits as descendent from the work of Rembrandt or El Greco, then Van Gogh and Soutine yet it never lamely mimics any of them. They set the example but I always looked to move it on. I was born into a generation which experimented with and pushed the barriers, sometimes too far, too quickly. I have always looked over my shoulder or down to see my feet standing on the shoulders of giants. I fought hard with my own inadequacies to overcome my incompetence in various media. I did find my way to doing some oil paintings which had considerable skill. All of the time I heard Max Ernst whispering in my ear that ‘painting is dead’, yet I refused to allow that to happen, I love the push of the wet gooey brush across the dry canvas surface and my attempts to make a difference. I was aware that so many great artists had (before I began) created a great legacy of amazing works which I could hardly hope to match, so I would push off in another direction. To find that direction I would look intensively into the history of ‘art’ and into the practice which was going on around me from the time of my first successful paintings and prints until today.

In the early 1970’s I was lucky to see the work of Soutine, de Kooning, Barnet Newman and Dieter Roth all of whom did what I considered to be ground-breaking work which itself was keeping to the lineage of the greats that went before them. I wanted to create new and original work which proved ever so difficult when the art market only really wanted to have the work of established masters or people who were following in their footsteps. They wouldn’t look at my work because I was not in the canon or established or I didn’t have the right track record or had not been vetted by the right colleges. And who can blame them when so many artists were being produced, choosing who to back and add to the canon must have been difficult. But I carried on making my art regardless, for 48 years now. Now it can be seen that I have created a large oeuvre which has a wide variety of differing styles and ways of working, yet another taboo in the ‘art-world’ where they like it if you concentrate on a small area then you can be boxed up and sold.

I was inspired by Ernst. I saw Roth as an oasis on my starving journey. And later I saw Beuys and Keifer doing things I had done as a result of pursuing my own star only they did them more than I ever could with my limited time and resources.

‘Beuys never made a painting on canvas; he explicitly rejected this traditional artistic production.’ P68 JB-A Colourful World, pubr. Schellmann Art, Munich 2011. Here is a difference because I did do paintings and other things onto canvas, I wouldn’t stop because Beuys did not choose this medium, but I would be able to consider many materials for use in my own work having been given permission so to do by Beuys having used them either before I did or without my knowing that he had and my later finding out he had used materials I had chosen, except before me. What Beuys, Ernst and Roth did was encourage my daring when it came to which materials could be used to make my work with. Had I stuck to the limited media which my educators and many British artists before the sixties had stuck to my output would have been severely limited. Even today many of my pieces are frowned upon by people from all walks of life because many have little idea as to the way art and its use or abuse of materials has moved for better or worse in the past 50 years.

On 23.7.14 I got a note from David Jury about our collaboration for an artists book Inside This Clay Vessel http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780950426716/BATCH-Introduction-Thoughts-Clay-Jug-0950426717/plp :

‘I did a lot of work on Vessel page 2 (V2) today but had to make quite a few changes from yesterday’s efforts. I expect to get a printed result tomorrow. It was Braunschweig University that I visited, but they have no link to Beuys. The permanent exhibition of Beuys I mentioned is kept at a fantastic gallery in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof. They have a couple of fabulous Keifer pieces too, but they are not always on display.’

I had been asking him about his visit to Braunschweig and the artists that he’d told me about with a view to me going there one day(?). In 2015 I produced a book about the making of my picture called Venus Stairs which was inspired by Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Staircase. The more I see of Schlemmer’s oeuvre the more I love it, especially the stuff he did related to performance, especially now that I am so involved with Performance Art.

Two weeks ago I recited my Beuys poem at firstsite Gallery in Colchester. The poem pokes fun at Beuys and his ways but it’s also an homage to him. When I spent 2 weeks in the company of Performance Artist Jurgen Fritz I was aware that I am still a novice in the field of Performance Art but Jurgen said encouraging things about my efforts. I have been eating, sleeping & dreaming up Performance Art pieces since then and my next blog will be about the IPA fortnight.

making the point

Here’s me reciting my Beuys poem. He had gold on his face, I couldn’t afford gold so I used black.

 

Now I have begun.

Stop Press

I am doing a 20 minute performance art at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester on Saturday 7th November which has now been re-scheduled for 15.00 hrs that’s 3pm, kick off time for Outlaw Pete who will be getting on Jurgen Fritz’s horse! It’s part of Firstsite’s first ever day of performance art with 11 other PA people doing their bits between 12.00 to 18.00hrs. It should be great fun.

Fancy that, I began my art trajectory in 1968 with little or no idea where it would lead me.47 years of nothing doing and THEN in just one week I get 3 such big breakthroughs; IPA, JAB & OAK.

IPA.

At IPA Bristol I got accepted into the Performance Artist community. To quote Anthony Hopkins on last night’s incredible BBC play The Dresser, “The whole event has been one of the best times in my life.” (Radio Times p22, 31Oct-6Nov 2015) and I must admit I was the most senior player but by no means the most experienced. I cried a lot (along with others when they watched my stuff!) I felt strong emotions and a deep nostalgic looking back on my life which was better than any psycho- therapy.

Here’s Hopkins and Jurgen Fritz, my mentor on the IPA fortnight.

a Jurgen-Fritz-IPA Workshop-Leader-2015jurgen on the horse dinging a bell

ant hopkins smHopkins on his horse (ctsy Radio Timesglockeromswhk

if Anthony can do it Jurgen does it too!

Check out my pals Robert Hardaker and Debbie Guinnane from IPA at this week’s SPILL Festival in London http://spillfestival.com/brochure2015/ .

rob an leafs smRob Hardaker on his horse

A colleague on the IPA course, Carol Montealegre,  sent this which Kabbalah Centre International originally shared these words, love ‘em, “We create change by seeing the spark of Light rather than the Darkness in everyone with whom we interact.” ~Karen Berg. Here she is in one of my sketches doing her ting

carol smCarol reigning in her horse

JAB has just published an article I wrote for them about the influence of some German artists on my work. (We can now add Jurgen to Max, Anselm, Kurt, Dieter and all the rest now!) http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/ It’s great to see my work in a prestigious journal from across the big pond. Thanks Brad for publishing me in the company of such greats.

 OAK Knoll is a pretty prestigious fine press publishing house and a little bird has told me that they are interested to stock the poems I did for my artist’s book ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ that David Jury printed as a letterpress set of pages which we collaborated in the making of in 2014. It’s wonderful to see David’s hard graft getting recognition and that more people may be able to see the work we did. Let’s celebrate with this beautiful song by Richard Hawley

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06h3274/later-with-jools-holland-series-47-episode-4

arnolfini outside jug dance sm

Pete doing the Jug Dance outside the Arnolfini in October 2015

Looking back over my two weeks at International Performance Association (http://ipabristol.co.uk/about-ipa/ ) which were so fulfilling and formative I’d love to share my rapid sketches with you. Normally I detest it when you’re not allowed to take photos of artworks & performances but in this case I saw the merit of leaving the photo-taking to Jurgen so we could concentrate on our P A. By the way, feel free to take as many snaps as you wish of any of my PA works. Don’t feel concerned about flashing and I might just flash you too!

So here’s the sketches.

okhu smOkhu dances for the horse

sam chess yew tree smSam outwits the horse by going blindfold, in a big coat