Friday, 12 February 2016

Today we are emancipated from all narcissists

I finally got my copy of V. V. Barnett’s Partial Sketches: Picture Partial today. Really fascinating stuff. Big old thing, and second hand so the binding is on the way out, but there are some amazing things in it; preparatory sketches for Barnett’s main triumvirate, the Bristol Series and the UtUt Process from 1973 to 1976.

There’s a good amount of his jazz period as well, when he would address the page in the Japanese style whilst syncopating his strokes to live musicians such as Davis Huntington, Eric P Anders and Giles Pallas when they were in residence at the Down Stroke in Munich and the Penny Penny in Bremen. Unlike previous editions the quality of the pictures have been improved so that you can see the characteristic gouges and scrapes which V.V was renowned for.

Leafing through the numerous prints you can see why Barnett was called the Pollock of the Pencil when he was in his pomp. It is also clear that his flirtation with non-figurative art was brief and, from Barnett’s own notes, failed to satisfy his artistic aspirations. The collection ends with his famous sketches of the Norwich Warbler which proved to be his most enduring work and what he is best remembered for today. 

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