Pete and Trevor in front of "Interpreting Nighthawks"
Trevor Burrowes had worked with me on the earlier Painting Project. One day he asked me if I could work with him on one of his newspaper projects using my painting system. We talked about it and agreed we could do some good work together. Over time we have melded our two processes together, his use of newspaper bringing out the graphic qualities of the print medium, and my use of grid and color. Often times an amazing confluence of images comes out of the two.
This was just the kind of thing I was looking for when I started the Painting Project. That mature artists would bring their own language to the system and their own take on it and go in a new direction.
All of these pieces use an abbreviated version of the system, using just four steps instead of the full sixteen. The reason being we wanted to bring out the qualities of the graphic and print medium of the newspaper. Also the newspaper would not hold the weight of much more paint than that.
- Pete Hubbard
Over 30 years ago I became fascinated with using unorthodox materials to paint on. Ply-board wood paneling and cardboard were the early materials. Years later, I did a series of paintings on super-thin, crumply paper drop cloth. This affirmed my interest in the sculptural quality of the paper I work on. A little earlier, I had done a series of drawings on my old, used calendars, and in these the grid was predominant. It was only a matter of time before I would discover newspaper. Here, texture and grid come together, as does dramatic "under" imagery that creates a kind of palimpsest when painted over.
The graphic images of newspapers are an inspiration for new forms rendered over them. Straight lines that separate dark and light colors often unexpectedly turn a form that is rendered on top of it. This works very much as it does in certain kinds of cubist painting. As in cubism, the rectangles in the newspaper images work in a dual way to describe volume in the rendered image (often described in line) while also creating abstract geometries that go beyond the rendered image. Serendipity occurs with amazing regularity. I am constantly surprised at the fortuitous "accidents" that occur; newspaper images create proxy structures that take the place of modeling. Synthesis arises from the unification of many layers of content: catchy phrases in the newspaper images, and fortuitous imagery that make for a double take, multiple meanings. The newspaper work deals with the real world. We add value to a material which otherwise would be landfill. We salvage a great reservoir of meaning which inheres in the newspaper's graphic and written messages. We show that making art does not require expensive materials. We take something that's expendable and we make it expendable...but with value added. We exult in the expendability of things. We deal with reality.
Our newspaper work is nonchalant. We walk on it and laugh when it rips. Patched with masking tape from behind, a foot-long rip is hardly noticeable. It just takes its place among a bevy of textures that the newspaper conveys. A brut aesthetic, gritty urban art is what we're after.
Newspaper offers ready-made formatting: standard-size sheets that fold uniformly; uniform column width that create an informal grid. Straight lines are easily rendered by running them along lines of type or border lines. Sags and crumples are part of the aesthetic, which makes newspaper a highly forgiving art medium. It is easily folded for transportation. It is modular and easy to expand to match a dimensional requirement. Newspaper is everywhere. No cost, lack of pressure, freedom to make mistakes...