What Art History Tells Us About Ultra Violet, Pantone’s Color of the Year

For centuries, the color purple has been associated with greatness: immense power, big personalities, and artistic genius. Cleopatra and Julius Caesar swathed their palaces and their bodies with it. Impressionists like Claude Monet became so obsessed with the color, they were accused by critics of contracting “violettomania.” And then, of course, pop god Prince branded his funky, supremely iconoclastic music with deep, dewy violet—a mystical force he dubbed “purple rain.”


It’s these lofty qualities that color authority Pantone referenced Thursday when announcing its 2018 color of the year: Ultra violet. The company lauded the hue’s ability to communicate “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future” in a press release, noting purple’s longstanding connection to “unconventionality” and “artistic brilliance.”


UV Painting Jason Barre


Indeed, nowhere is the creative and cultural influence of purple more clear than in a tour through the history of art, from ancient Roman frescoes to Pop art.
Antoine-François Callet, Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre (1754-1793), wearing his grand royal costume in 1779, 1789. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Antoine-François Callet, Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre (1754-1793), wearing his grand royal costume in 1779, 1789. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Josef AlbersPalatial1965Susan Sheehan Gallery

It begins in the first millennium B.C., when humans developed a pigment known as purpura or Tyrian purple. Sourced from a tiny shellfish called murex, it wasn’t easy to come by. More than 250,000 of the critters had to be offed in order to produce half an ounce of the color—just enough to dye a single toga.

As with most rare goods, purpura became expensive and valuable. Ancient Rome’s rich and famous, in particular—led by Julius Caesar—fell for the color. Caesar’s interest was stoked after a visit to Cleopatra’s lavish Egyptian palace, decorated with purple porphyry stone and sporting couches upholstered in purple fabric. Upon his return to Rome, Caesar declared that only he could wear togas dyed completely violet. The law became harsher under a later emperor, Nero—if someone disobeyed, they could be punished by death.

Subsequent emperors loosened their grip on purple, but the color maintained its association with power and luxury. The wall paintings and mosaics that decorated Roman villas of the era often employed the color to convey status. Byzantine rulers assumed a love of violet, too. A 547 A.D. mosaic cycle in the church of San Vitale in modern-day Ravenna, Italy, depicts emperor Justinian I draped head-to-toe in purple cloth; the courtiers that flank him wear more modest bands of the same fabric, suggesting their high rank. (It was the Byzantines who coined the term “born in the purple.”)

The Catholic church later adopted the color, and violet-robed priests began to crop up in painted portraits. The 18th-century French court followed suit: When Antoine-François Callet painted King Louis XVI in 1779, he depicted him in a deep plum coronation robe.

via What Art History Tells Us About Ultra Violet, Pantone’s Color of the Year


Why Pay for a Pollock When You Can Have a Presley?


Revival (5)

Ok, same initials: James Presley, Jackson Pollock.

The Same birthday just different year, James Presley: 28/01/1970, Jackson Pollock: 28/01/1912.

Similar techniques, no copying.

Jackson Pollock’s most expensive painting: $165.4m

James Presley: $929

Jackson Pollock’s cheapest painting: roughly $3000

James Presley: $51

Everybody wants to make it as an artist when they are alive, but it’s so difficult as there are so many brilliant artists out there and everyone is looking for their own unique style.

The truth is, I paint how I do, I wasn’t influenced, I started painting like this, way before I had ever heard of Jackson Pollock.  In fact, when I started painting I knew nothing about art at all.  I knew names and certain pictures and had been to galleries and exhibitions, but had never heard of Jackson Pollock.

So is it a coincidence, or am I the reincarnation?  Spooky, eh?

Revival (1)

I found out about him in 2001 when I had a girlfriend from America who introduced me to the Pollock film.  The way he was portrayed by Ed Harris in it had me connecting with the artist and his art straight away.  But, I had started painting before I saw that film.

By the way, I have only been to America once and that was to South Dakota and while I was there I visited Wyoming, where Jackson Pollock is from, but I was nowhere near Cody, WY.

In summary, if you want to purchase art similar to Pollock then visit James Presley’s website to get it for a fraction of the price, but be careful, because if he makes it big he might be knocking Pollock’s prices out of the park.  Another great thing, he is still living, so you can even ask him to do commissions. 🙂  Oh yeah, you don’t have to bid, you can buy it for the price you see.


Spot the Original?

When I post on Instagram, I will often post parts of whole paintings just because I think that when you look a the painting up clode there is a whole new painting hidden within a painting.  In case you didn’t know a lot of my paintings are 2 paintings.  I have basically done one painting an painted over the top, so you get 2 for the price of one.

Triple Trouble (3)

Anyway, sometomes when I post a whole painting on Instagram followed by parts of the same painting I often tend to get more ‘likes’ on the small areas of the large painting than I do on the original.  Why is that?  Any ideas?

Revival (5)

The featured image in this post is part of one of my paintings, and so are the other 2 images.  Can you tell me from which posts on my blog they are in, besides this one?  person who posts a comment with the right answer and link to the post will get a mini Presley painting for absolutley nothing by post.


Showcase: Edvard Munch

When I think of Munch I only ever think of ‘The Scream’ and I am sure many of us think the same, that was until I read this post over at irevou.com and saw that there are many paintings by the artist that I didn’t really know about in my ignorance. I did discover that his paintings were all about emotion and if I was teaching adjectives to describe emotions to a foreigner what better artist’s artwork to bring to the classroom than Edvard Munch’s.


Norwegian painter Edvard Munch’s works can cause psychological trauma. Or are they depictions of such trauma? There’s something bizarre about them, and said works show how art is not about the outward appearance of things, but their inner complexities. What hides behind a smile? What can you figure out about a person from their body language? What is it about colors?

View original post


Expressionism to Minimalism to Expressionism

Notable minimalist artists were Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman, who created large abstracts using mainly square forms and primary colours.  I, myself have been known to dabble a little with minimalism.  I created a whole line of paintings.  I always find myself bouncing back to expressionism though, this is how I feel I best express myself.

Piet Mondrian & Barnett Newman

Minimalism Art Movement, also called ABC ArtMinimal ArtLiteralist ArtReductivismRejective Art, emerged in New York in the early 1960s, in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.

Minimalism By James Presley

Is a school of abstract painting and sculpture that emphasizes extreme simplification of form, as by the use of basic shapes and monochromatic palettes of primary colors, objectivity and anonymity of style.


Minimalism By James Presley

Use of the fewest and barest essentials or elements, as in the arts, literature or design.
In Music, a school or mode of contemporary music marked by extreme simplification of rhythms, patterns and harmonies, prolonged chordal or melodic repetitions and often a trance like effect.

A great inspiration. Colourist of the 20th Century.

Featured image: Joy of Life (Le Bonheur de Vivre) (1905-06)

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” – Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse is probably considered to be one of the greatest colourists of the 20th century with regards to his innovations.  His works influence me and I love to look at his beautiful paintings which inspire me an start my wrists twitching and my thoughts going ready for my own piece of work to begin.


By Henri Matissewww.mcs.csuhayward.edu, 1 January 2008, PD-US, Link

During his Fauve years Matisse often painted landscapes in the south of France during the summer and worked up ideas developed there into larger compositions upon his return to Paris. Joy of Live, the second of his important imaginary compositions, is typical of these. He used a landscape he had painted in Collioure to provide the setting for the idyll, but it is also influenced by ideas drawn from Watteau, Poussin, Japanese woodcuts, Persian miniatures, and 19th century Orientalist images of harems. The scene is made up of independent motifs arranged to form a complete composition. The massive painting and its shocking colors received mixed reviews at the Salon des Indépendants. Critics noted its new style — broad fields of color and linear figures, a clear rejection of Paul Signac’s celebrated Pointillism.
Read More ...

Woman with a Hat (Femme au chapeau), 1905 by Henri Matisse

via Henri Matisse Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works | The Art Story


There’s more to Peru than Paddington Bear

You might think that Peruvian art is all to do with their culture, The Andes and The Amazon, but it is as diverse as their country.  There are many Peruvian artists both past and present that have created beautiful artworks.  Here are three that particularly caught my eye.


Teodoro Núñez Ureta

(See featured image)

“This painter moves physically and emotionally between imbalance and depth. And so is his work, vivid, miserable and grandiose, not in size, but in spirit ” -Victor Humareda

Sérvulo Gutiérrez once said Teodoro Nuñez Ureta:

His strokes are feverish, dislocated, calligraphers, of a language, plastic of particular grammar, in which all the norms of logic are run over and imposed by a proper, instinctive, enlightened order.

To understand his art I will mention his appreciation of art and society “I have never believed in an art isolated from the reality that surrounds it and determines it, nor in a painting that pretends to ignore, as it is the impulse, the medium and the end of everything universal art “……. Read more



Don Quijote y Sancho acercándose a los molinos de viento

As a child he began strict artistic training in an art academy directed by his father, Germán Suárez Vértiz, who was twice the Director of the National School of Fine Arts. Throughout his career, his style was constantly evolving. Through his experimentation, Alvaro eventually created a new style, self-described as “Garabaticista”, which requires a great deal of color and brushing. His work has been published in different art magazines in Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan among other countries.

Fernando de Szyszlo

Fernando de Szyszlo (3)

Fernando de Szyszlo is a Peruvian painter and sculpter who was an important figure in advancing abstract art in Latin America. Born in Lima, Peru in 1925, he spent many of his formative artistic years in Europe, where he met founding members of the surrealist movement like Andre Breton. He is best known for his use of pre-Columbian imagery in his red paintings. Szyszlo’s art is an attempt at reinventing Surrealist themes in a Latin American context, concerned more with feelings connected to indigenous mysticism than artistic conceit.

To read about other great Peruvian artists follow this link which is the source of some of the text.



Why not design album covers?

I woke up in the night because I couldn’t sleep, as you do and I had an idea about offering my art to album cover designers.  I could just see it all over the cover of a vinyl album.  That’s the thing I love about vinyl records coming back in, the album art on some of them is so outstanding, that sometimes you just buy the album because of the art.

Album cover

So I popped over to Canva and had a quick go at it.  Maybe if there are some musicians or design companies that need some images for their latest album cover design they could contact me and I would be more than happy to release the high res. images to them for a small fee. 🙂

Look no further Sony, Polydor etc.  I am here to help.




Blue Mist Cat

“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made a slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”     —Mark Twain


“The problem with cats is that they get the same exact look whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.”  —Paula Poundstone (comedian)

I had to open with a couple of cat quotes just because I love cats so much.  They are my favourite animal of all the creatures of the earth whatever their size.

Here is my latest painting, which I have done straight onto a piece of unstretched canvas using acrylic paint and ink.  I use to paint that way all of the time, but then I didn’t have the room so I was forced to paint on small areas.  Now, as luck would have it, I am fortunate enough to have a bit more space (could do with an aircraft hanger) so I got a roll of canvas.

Bluemistcat7Blue Mist Cat 17

Blue Mist Cat

Please let me know what you think.


Bolivian Art – Art Culture in Bolivia

I noticed from looking at the many beautiful Bolivian artworks that colour is a very prominent feature in their paintings, which is pretty close to my heart.  I love the vibrant colours and I especially love the street art.  I wish there were more of that over here in England, but unfortunately it may be classed as graffiti, which I also love.  By the way, I’m Banksy. 🙂 LOL!


Read the Spanish version

Bolivian art demonstrates itself through a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture and pottery, to name a few. The diversity of the country and its people, as well as the colourfulness of everyday life in Bolivia makes for great pieces of artwork, some of which are not acknowledged as much as they should. One of the main reasons for this could be the lack of Bolivian museums in the past. Recently, however the country has seen many new art galleries and museums open up, giving Bolivian artists more opportunity to showcase their work. The city of Santa Cruz is particularly well known for its display of Bolivian art culture, including painting, architecture and artisanal products.

Graphic artist Marco Tóxico from La Paz

Bolivia is home to a unique style of art and architecture known as Mestizo Baroque, created when the traditional religious art brought by the Spaniards was combined with the styles of the indigenous Bolivian people. The colonial period was dominated by artists such as Melchor Pérez de Holguín, whereas 20th century Bolivian artists include Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, Maria Luisa Pacheco, and Marina Núñez del Prado.

Cochamba Street Art

via Bolivian Art – Art Culture in Bolivia | don Quijote


Canvas Snaps and Recaps!

So, I was quite busy painting in October and November, but I’ve slowed down a bit again now.  I still have plenty of ideas but there are certain other things happening which don’t allow me the time I need to do so much.  I don’t like to paint as part of my daily routine, so I’d rather not include it in my groundhog day of a life that I seem to be stuck in at the moment.

I’ll pick up the paintbrush and start dancing with my canvas in days to come and in the mean time here are some recaps from the last month or so.

Don’t forget to check out my galleries at James Presley Design and Artmajeur if there’s something you like email me.  Have a nice Monday!


Silk – Interactive Generative Art

I was just about to go to bed when I literally stumbled upon this sent by StumbleUpon.  I started playing with it and found it quite relaxing and therapeutic.  Try it by clicking in the link below.


It might be good for designing tattoos or inspiration for imaginative smoke rings.

via Silk – Interactive Generative Art – StumbleUpon


On Top Again

One of my favourite quotes by Jackson Pollock

“If people would just look at the paintings, I don’t think they would have any trouble enjoying them. It’s like looking at a bed of flowers, you don’t tear your hair out over what it means.”

This is so true when looking at many works of art, if you like something you just like it, if you don’t get, you just don’t get.  It’s like when you eat a sticky toffee pudding, you don’t know why but you’re just in heaven and then some people may not be.  I don’t understand those people, but that’s the way we’re all different.

Triple Trouble (4)
Triple Trouble

I’m really hitting the canvas lately, I have definitely found my creative mojo again.  I want to do it all the time and it’s great.  This is one of my latest creations and boy did I enjoy doing it, it just lets me express all my feelings in a sitting.

Anyway, I hope this spirit stays alive in me so I just keep going on.



Octava.2, A Little Argentinian Poetry y Art

Argentinian art is gaining international recognition this year, notably featuring at the Venice Biennale, Documenta in Kassel and Pacific Standard Time LA/LA in southern California. On the commercial front, Argentina was the guest country at the Arco fair in Madrid in February, while Art Basel is partnering with Buenos Aires on its new Art Basel Cities initiative.

Antoniao Berni
El obrero caído (1953) by the Argentinian artist Antonio Berni

The organisers of the ArteBA fair, founded 26 years ago, hope to build on this newfound visibility on the international circuit. Fair director Julia Converti says the “pulse of artistic production and the sex appeal of Buenos Aires” is part of the international pull. “Local support is multiplying, and so are new audiences who are interested in contemporary art around the world.”

Fairgoers can expect a range of works by international and Argentinian artists, including paintings by the Argentinian figurative artist Antonio Berni (Galería Sur) and photographs by the Buenos Aires-based artist Tomás Maglione (Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte).

More than half of the galleries at ArteBA are international this year, similar to last year, with 17 countries represented. Newcomers include Steve Turner from Los Angeles, Klemm’s from Berlin, and Galería Cayón from Madrid.

Xul Solar (2)
Xul Solar

Despite a flourishing art scene, Argentina has a relatively subdued art market thanks to a struggling economy. Figures from last year’s fair are cause for hope, however. The 2016 event drew 100,000 visitors—more than Frieze London or Art Basel in Basel—and 53 works were bought by 23 museums and organisations through the fair’s acquisition programme.


Xul Solar
Xul Solar

A little Argentinian poetry by Roberto Juarroz

También las palabras caen al suelo,
como pájaros repentinamente enloquecidos
por sus propios movimientos,
como objetos que pierden de pronto su equilibrio,
como hombres que tropiezan sin que existan obstáculos,
como muñecos enajenados por su rigidez.

Entonces, desde el suelo,
las proprias palabras construyen una escala,
para ascender de nuevo al discurso del hombre,
a su balbuceo
o a su frase final.

Pero hay algunas que permanecen caídas.
Y a veces uno las encuentra
en un casi larvado mimetismo,
como si supiesen que alguien va a ir a recogerlas
para construir con ellas un nuevo lenguaje,
un lenguaje hecho solamente con palabras caídas.

With Translation by Mariolein Sabarte Belacortu
Words too fall to the ground,
like birds suddenly driven crazy
by their own movements,
like objects that suddenly lose their balance,
like men who stumble even when there’s no obstacle,
like dolls estranged by their own rigidity.

Then, the words themselves build a stairway
from the ground,
to climb up to human discourse,
to its stutter
or final sentence.

But some words remain forever fallen.
And sometimes we find such words
in an almost larval mimesis,
as if they knew someone were going to come
gather them up and build a new language,
a language made up entirely of fallen words.


A Little Poetry, A Little Art…

Just some beautiful art and a poem

Pablo Neruda: Ode to the Happy Day

This time let me
be happy.
Nothing has happened to anybody,
I am nowhere special,
it happened only
that I am happy
through the four chambers
of my heart, walking,
sleeping or writing.
What can I do? I am
I am more uncountable
than the meadow
I feel my skin like a wrinkled tree
and the water below,
the birds above,
the sea like a ring
around my waist,
the Earth is made of bread and stone,
the air sings like a guitar.
Duy Huynh Tutt'Art@ (3)

You,by my side in the sand,
you are the sand,
you sing and you are a song,
today the world
is my soul:
song and sand,
today the world
is your mouth:
Let me
be happy
on your mouth, on the sand,
be happy just because, because I am breathing
and because you are breathing,
be happy, because I am touching
your knee
and it is as though I am touching
the blue skin of heaven
and its pristine air.
Duy Huynh Tutt'Art@ (7)
Today let me
and me only
be happy,
with everybody or without them,
be happy,
with the grass
and the sand,
be happy
with the air and the earth,
be happy,
with you, with your mouth,
be happy.

In Italian Maybe:

Questa volta lasciate che sia felice,
non è successo nulla a nessuno,
non sono da nessuna parte,
succede solo che sono felice
fino all’ultimo profondo angolino del cuore.

Duy Huynh Tutt'Art@ (14)

Camminando, dormendo o scrivendo,
che posso farci, sono felice.
Sono più sterminato dell’erba nelle praterie,
sento la pelle come un albero raggrinzito,
e l’acqua sotto, gli uccelli in cima,
il mare come un anello intorno alla mia vita,
fatta di pane e pietra la terra
l’aria canta come una chitarra.

Duy Huynh Tutt'Art@ (1)

Tu al mio fianco sulla sabbia, sei sabbia,
tu canti e sei canto.
Il mondo è oggi la mia anima
canto e sabbia, il mondo oggi è la tua bocca,
lasciatemi sulla tua bocca e sulla sabbia
essere felice,
essere felice perché sì,
perché respiro e perché respiri,
essere felice perché tocco il tuo ginocchio
ed è come se toccassi la pelle azzurra del cielo
e la sua freschezza.
Oggi lasciate che sia felice, io e basta,
con o senza tutti, essere felice con l’erba
e la sabbia essere felice con l’aria e la terra,
essere felice con te, con la tua bocca,
essere felice.

Duy Huynh Tutt'Art@ (13)


Fun to Splash! Flip if I don’t Drip!

Here’s my latest pandemonium, which I call ‘Clarity’.  I call it Clarity, because I’m clear in what I’m doing.  For some it may be pandemonium, but for me it’s just pure clarity.  I have done some closeups too so you can have a look and see the amazing patterns and feelings of clarity I have created.



Clarity (9)
Clarity – By James Presley

Pandemoniumwild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar.

Claritythe quality of being clear, in particular.

Maybe I am a mixture of both, you decide.



Abstract Expressionism Lives!

I found this article over at The Art Story where it mentions that abstract expressionism finished in late 1960s, I would like to think it’s still going strong.  I think maybe their just talking about the movement, which in my opinion was one of the best periods in art history.  Although, there are many periods in the history of art which may be said to be the best.  So lets just not risk the cause of a debate and say, abstract expressionism was one of MY favourite periods in the history of art. 🙂

Revival (1)
Revival – Transformation By James Presley 2017

“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academic painting. However, there is no such thing as good painting about nothing.”

Mark Rothko Signature


“Abstract Expressionism” was never an ideal label for the movement, which developed in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. It was somehow meant to encompass not only the work of painters who filled their canvases with fields of color and abstract forms, but also those who attacked their canvases with a vigorous gestural expressionism. Still Abstract Expressionism has become the most accepted term for a group of artists who held much in common. All were committed to art as expressions of the self, born out of profound emotion and universal themes, and most were shaped by the legacy of Surrealism, a movement that they translated into a new style fitted to the post-war mood of anxiety and trauma. In their success, these New York painters robbed Paris of its mantle as leader of modern art, and set the stage for America’s dominance of the international art world.

Key Ideas

Political instability in Europe in the 1930s brought several leading Surrealists to New York, and many of the Abstract Expressionists were profoundly influenced by Surrealism’s focus on mining the unconscious. It encouraged their interest in myth and archetypal symbols and it shaped their understanding of painting itself as a struggle between self-expression and the chaos of the subconscious.
Most of the artists associated with Abstract Expressionism matured in the 1930s. They were influenced by the era’s leftist politics, and came to value an art grounded in personal experience. Few would maintain their earlier radical political views, but many continued to adopt the posture of outspoken avant-gardists.
Having matured as artists at a time when America suffered economically and felt culturally isolated and provincial, the Abstract Expressionists were later welcomed as the first authentically American avant-garde. Their art was championed for being emphatically American in spirit – monumental in scale, romantic in mood, and expressive of a rugged individual freedom.
Although the movement has been largely depicted throughout historical documentation as one belonging to the paint-splattered, heroic male artist, there were several important female Abstract Expressionists that arose out of New York and San Francisco during the 1940s and ’50s who now receive credit as elemental members of the canon.

The Art of Venezuala

Recently, I have noticed through looking at my statistics and analytics on my blog and my galleries that I am getting a lot of traffic from South America.  Countries at the top are Bolivia, Paraguay and what sticks out the most is Venezuela.  I can’t understand why I get so many visitors to my galleries, especially, from this country.  So I thought I’d pay a little Muchas Gracias to my South American followers. 🙂

I Googled some artists and was pleased with the results that came up and there were a few that leapt out of the page at me.  Street art seems to big in Venezuela and here is a little sample from an artist featured in STREETARTNEWS.  It’s actually by a Brazilian artist Known as L7M, I think it’s quite amazing, especially when you zoom in and open up a world of other surprises.

Bird Mural L7M
Mural in Maracay, Venezuela L7M

I found the beautiful painting below Flowerbird by Aramis Fraino who also has beautiful digital works.  Aramis lived and studied in Italy for a number of years, but now resides in Venezuela.

Jacobo Borges, I guess to me, I thought at first, is like a Venezuelan Braque in style.  I immediately thought cubist when I saw this painting, but then I read a little more and had a look at some of his other works and saw that he was an open window, and not really fitting into any particular “style”, and he is a man of many talents in all areas of the arts..

Finally, I thought I’d also like to mention an artist, whose work I found most enjoyable.  I just looked at it and thought, how does she do that?  It is the most amazing geometric art, so colourful and when you look at it it just goes on and on.  The artist’s name is Tatiana Mantilla.  I could only find a link to her blog, but I think you’ll agree it’s quite fantastic work.  Bravo Tatiana!

Work By Tatiana Mantilla, Venezuela

If anyone from Venezuela or anywhere, or anywhere in South America can tell me why you think my Gallery site is visited so much please tell me.  But Muchas Gracias!


A Gallery for my Works

In 1898 a brilliant contributor to the art world was born going by the name of Peggy Guggenheim.  Fortunately for her, she was born into great wealth as both her father and uncle were considerably notable and prosperous gentlemen.  By the age of 20, she had already inherited a large sum of money and move to Paris, France, where she began subsidizing a considerable collection of artwork.


Now the gallery I’m talking about is the one she opened in October 1942, Art of This Century Gallery.  With a collection of works, she had acquired while in Paris she showcased Surrealists and Cubists, mainly from Europe.  It was after opening that she started representing American artists like Pollock, and European emigres such as Rothko and Hofman.  I was too young, like minus 28 years old so I couldn’t show my work there.  If she had known me, I’m sure I would have been invited.  Heh heh!


The gallery only stayed open for 5 years but gave many well-known artists a start in life and a place for them to exhibit.  It’s quite possible that without Peggy Guggenheim and so-called The Uptown Group, (Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning) many of these artists may have been unheard of today.

Isn’t it a shame that there isn’t someone like her today, who is willing to offer artists a chance to have solo exhibitions and connect the dots for so many passionate people.  Oh well, keep dreaming James.  Peggy if you have an art angel please send them to my place, I could do with a break.  🙂 🙂



Does Winning Always Mean Success?

The answer to the question is, NO, definitely NOT.  Back in 2007, I entered into an art competition just for the fun of it with the SAA (Society for All Artists).  I did the usual and paid the entrance fee for a few paintings, took out a membership and then waited.  A couple of months later I received a mail from the SAA asking me to send one of my paintings as it had been short-listed for the Abstract Experimental category.  I was over the moon, I was thinking that I was on my way to bigger things, they had chosen me.  I was told I had to have the painting framed but they would sort out shipping costs.  I got it framed and it cost me a good few hundred but I thought it worth the investment.



Later, I received another mail telling me that I had won in this category and would be invited to exhibit at the Art Fair which took place near Oxford.  I was delighted about that too.  I thought that curators would be knocking my door down for invites.  No, that didn’t happen.  All that happened was I got the certificate above and a £100 shopping voucher to use on the SAA’s online shop and a subscription to their crap magazine, oh and a mention in it which you can’t even find online now, the link don’t work.

The Painting that won

My advice is if you are going to enter an art competition and in the event, you win it, unless it’s for the Turner Prize or some big renowned organization, don’t expect too much.  It was written that there were 36,000 entries for this competition, but the marquee at the event was big enough for about half a dozen people, so I’m not sure if all was legit.



Painting on unstretched canvas?

When I first start to paint I didn’t really know what exactly it was that I wanted to do. So, I started by painting on paper and quickly discovered this wasn’t for me because I was putting too much paint and too much water on the paper and it was turning into paper mache.  I didn’t even know where to go at first to get the right materials to paint on which led me to paint on anything.  Walls, furniture, wallpaper, windows and whatever else I could.  I can’t remember when I bought my first stretched canvas but what I do remember is how expensive it was.


I decided after that I would try and buy unstretched canvas because I could then have an area the size I wanted and it was more cost-effective.  I started buying 10M rolls of primed canvas and then going to the DIY shop and buying wood and stretching the paintings I had done when I finished them.  I didn’t do it like in the diagram above, I laid the canvas on a table and held the wood in place with some vices and stretched it over.  It worked brilliantly.  Sometimes I wouldn’t have the money to buy 10M rolls so I would go to the local drapery and buy rolls of cotton canvas, a lot cheaper.


Anyway, for years since then, I have been painting on stretched canvas bought from the art shop or online and it’s becoming expensive again because I am not selling any of my work and so I’m not making any money to buy new canvases.  I’m going back down the unstretched canvas road, which I love anyway because it gives me more freedom and there are no boundaries.  I am also running out of space to put my work so I’ll be able to roll them up.

I looked around online and it seems that there are quite a few artists like me who enjoy painting on unstretched canvas and personally I think it looks pretty awesome.  Can you imagine living in a big warehouse apartment with red brick walls and a nice Presley unstretched piece hanging on your walls? I can 🙂


Artwork By: Charlie Anderson


Summertime and Blue Poles

In my opinion, one of the greatest painters of the last century is Jackson Pollock.  I don’t know what it is, but when I see a Pollock painting it just stirs all kinds of emotions in me.  I remember going to the Tate Modern in London years ago and at the time I had no idea what to expect.  I was just walking around in awe at some of the art on display and thinking to myself WTF at other installations.  Just meaning there were some things that I just didn’t get.

Not long before I had visited the gallery I had seen the movie with Ed Harris titled ‘Pollock’, which was basically when I fell in love with abstract expressionism and foremost Pollock’s work, so you can imagine how I felt when I walked around the corner and ‘Summertime’ smacked me in the eyeballs.

Summertime: Number 9A 1948 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

I remembered the painting from the movie when Pollock posed in front of it for the picture which was included in a feature in ‘Life’ magazine.  I think this was probably the first time I had ever been so amazed and moved by any painting or artwork that I had ever seen and I have seen a lot of beautiful paintings.


A second beautiful painting by Pollock is ‘Blue Poles’ when you see it in books and photos, you just don’t realise how big it is.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this piece and I expect I will never be fortunate enough to get to Australia and see it, but you never know.  Here’s a little video about it by the person who looks after the painting.


I suppose seeing ‘Blue Poles’ would be much like seeing ‘Summertime’ which is also a massive painting, with a massive statement.  It was after seeing this painting that I knew I had to work on big surfaces myself to be able to express myself properly, so that’s what I do as much as possible.  I don’t have space now, but I want a nice big studio one day.


Inspiring People – Top 10 French Artists

The French certainly had some inspiring artists and here are some of the greatest.  My personal favourite is not on the list, Basquiat.

Top 10 French Artists

Jaz de Bouffan – 1876

A list of the greatest French artists and painters:

artist Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)  – Impressionist painter. The term impressionism stemmed from Monet’s influential work ‘Impression, Sunrise’ (Impression, soleil levant). Monet’s paintings frequently depicted nature in impressionist style.
artist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) – Post impressionist painter. Began his career in the impressionist mould but developed new innovative styles, providing a bridge between Nineteenth Century art and the cubist / modern art of Twentieth Century.
artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Post impressionist painter, who contributed to the growth of avant-garde painting. Gauguin had a temperamental relationship with Van Gogh
artist August Renoir  (1841–1919) Impressionist painter. Renoir played a key role in the development of impressionist painter. He was attracted to depicting human beauty and scenes of human society.
artist Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) Impressionist and post-impressionist painter. A very influential figure for both impressionists and the new generation of post impressionist painters.
artist Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Considered a forerunner of impressionism. He preferred the term ‘realist’ Degas was interested in depicting movement in art.
artist Édouard Manet (1832–1883) Manet contributed to the schools of ‘Realism’ and ‘Impressionism’ – playing a key role in the transformation to impressionism and modern art.
artist Charles-François Daubigny (1817–1878) Traditional landscape painter who was also seen as an important pre-cursor to impressionism.
artist Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) Romantic painter, inspired by the Venetian Renaissance painters and Rubens.
artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) Painter and sculptor associated with Dadaism.

Lived in France

artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) – Post impressionist painter noted for boldness and vivid paintings.  Born in Netherlands, he lived many years in France.

Source: Biography Online


James Presley – Room with a View (2017) Fresh, Fresh, Fresh!!!

Fresh off the paintbrush. One new painting with closeup photos, all available at http://www.jamespresley.design or Artmajeur

Room with a View (Painting), 80x60x1.8 cm by James Presley Abstract expressionism artwork by James Presley

Source: James Presley – Room with a View (2017) Painting, 80x60x1.8 cm


Videos James Presley

Here are some of the videos I have uploaded to my  YouTube account.  If you want a more up close and personal look at my works then click on the link below which will take you to the video page on my online gallery.

It’s so hard to get true colours when you are taking photos of your paintings and I think videos give a more realistic feel of how they would look in life.  Enjoy!

Source: Videos James Presley





James Presley – Sensual is Sensitive (2017) Painting, 80x60x1.8 cm


I believe art can be a learned process, it is also natural and a matter of what we see, feel and where we allow our hands to dance on the canvas, or our hands dance without the our minds controlling them. You can learn the techniques but you cannot learn to tell your mind to be satisfied with the techniques you have learned. When I am with the paintbrush, I always feel like we are dancing together, sometimes harmoniously sometimes against each other. Sometimes we are dancing the Tango, sometimes a Waltz, sometimes we caress each other to a slow romantic dance and sometimes we are in aggressive moments of passion. If there is harmony, it is possible to produce something which shows harmony, if there is no harmony then you may as well put the brush down until you feel it come back.

Source: James Presley – Sensual is Sensitive (2017) Painting, 80x60x1.8 cm


James Presley – New Works Added

Take a peek at my gallery, I have uploaded some new works.  You can click on the link below.  I have also uploaded some videos to my other gallery.  You can take a peek by clicking here.  You’ll have to forgive the commentary on some of them, there isn’t any because the music I was playing in the background was copyrighted.

Source: James Presley – Large and Small Abstracts


8 Solid Reasons Why Instagram Is Good For Your Business

Hundreds of millions of active Instagram users every month are posting forty million photos a day on Instagram. Think about those numbers for a few minutes. Now that they’ve sunk in I think we can agree that learning how to use Instagram to best promote your business, product or service is a very, very wise move indeed.

The potential it offers is really “mind-blowing”, for lack of a better description. Even more good news is that there are solid techniques and methods that can help you make the most of Instagram that is both easy to implement and execute. Here’s 8 reasons why Instagram is good for your business. Why Instagram Is Good For Your Business

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

No, it’s not a cliché at all. Do you have a product that you can display in a really visual dynamic way? Or a service that some great photos can highlight in an emotionally charged, dramatic manner? If you can translate the passion of what you offer or do into a visual image this opens a fantastic door of opportunity. Most people like to look at interesting images and if you can “draw” them in with a photo that is an “ad” but isn’t, it could end up worth as much as some of the best advertising campaigns out there. Be creative!


2. Instagram Can Offer A Behind the Scenes Look

When you share some photos that offer a behind the scenes look at your business, it can go a long way towards building a sense of rapport and familiarity between your work and those you are offering it to. This is one of the most powerful ways social media can help you change the game. A photo of your product being made or the service you offer being performed from the perspective of an “insider” can really intrigue and fascinate potential customers and clients. This is one of the reasons why television is packed with shows of people working at interesting jobs. It’s human nature to be curious about what’s going on “behind the curtain”.

3. It Encourages Customer Participation

Once you have built a reasonable amount of followers the door is wide open to encourage customers to exchange and participate in exchanges involving your business, through the use of things like hashtags. Why not encourage them to share photos of themselves using your product or service, if appropriate? Social media is social after all. This is why people love it so much and the more fun exchanges they have with your business in social media the greater chance they will end up spending money with you and encouraging their whole social circle to as well!

4. Instagram Allows You To Build a Personality for Your

BusinessInstagram should be an intricate part of building a distinct and winning personality for your business. Combined with other forms of social media, your website and your advertising, you are given a great opportunity for moulding how your business is perceived by your customers and potential leads. Are you trying to convey lightheartedness, seriousness, or some other “feel”?The right photos shared on Instagram can go a long way in building a personality and “aura” for your brand. Don’t underestimate the potential value of this universally…… especially in niche markets where personality is even more important.

5. Trust Building

The online experience can take a human face away from our business interactions. This is a bad thing if you are looking to build trust in what you offer. Instagram lets you put a face, literally, on your efforts and in ways that can be targeted to help build confidence in you. This is a very good thing.If you learn how to use Instagram to help build or reinforce trust in your efforts this will quickly equal more sales and more happy customers. Don’t neglect the occasional happy go lucky photos which can go a long way in this direction.

6. Instagram Keeps Your Name In Conversation

Learn how to use Instagram to keep people talking about your business. An idea that’s been proven to work again and again? Holding Instagram contests.Instagram is the ideal platform to hold contests to promote your business. The options are only limited by your imagination. “The best photo shared featuring what you offer receives a free product” is a popular formula that works again and again.Contests are a great way to get Instagram users and other lovers of social media talking about you and what you do!

7. Instagram Helps Promote Special Events

Are you planning on going to a trade show or something similar? Promote the fact you are going, on Instagram, to draw support and interest in your attending. During and afterwards, document your trip with cool and fun Instagram photo shares. Focus on some containing yourself and customers or other business associates. Nearly everyone loves this type of fun attention. People also don’t like to feel like they are missing out on something so they may be interested to rock up at your next show to experience the adventure in person.

8. The Chance To Go ViralThink company mascots, pets, adorable babies or animals doing funny things are…..

Source: 8 Solid Reasons Why Instagram Is Good For Your Business


When Picasso Almost Invented Abstract Painting

It took four hours by train and seven hours by covered wagon to reach Cadaqués from Barcelona. The group of travelers—including a 28-year-old Pablo Picasso and his then lover, Fernande Olivier—arrived in the small Spanish beach town after nightfall on July 1, 1910.Picasso would produce just a handful of works that summer, 10 of which are extant today. For the famously prolific artist, whose total output is estimated at 50,000 works, this was an aberration. Just the summer before, in the Spanish village of Horta de San Joan, Picasso produced what biographer John Richardson calls an “avalanche of paintings.”“It’s always interesting to note when he actually slows down,” said Yve-Alain Bois, a professor of art history at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In this case, he noted, “I think Picasso knew that his work had pushed him into a corner.”The preceding years had been wildly productive for Picasso. In 1907, together with French painter Georges Braque, he began to lay the foundation for Cubism. The pair collaborated more intensively in 1909, a back-and-forth that led to the development of “Analytic Cubism”—characterized by fragmented, overlapping planes and a monochromatic palette.

In his beach-side studio in Cadaqués, Picasso continued to pare down his mark-making. Eventually, he settled on a structure of gridded perpendicular lines that would serve as the basis for each new work. He also began to shade each plane of the fragmented picture separately, rather than maintaining a single light source—an approach that created a sense of depth without the illusion of a solid form.

These developments were driving him closer and closer towards pure abstraction. Even Picasso, Richardson notes, had a difficult time identifying the original subject matter for the Cadaqués paintings. Beyond their titles, Femme à la mandoline (Woman with a mandolin) (1910) and Glass and Lemon (1910) are difficult to parse as anything other than a series of interlocking geometric planes in shades of brown and gray. “These works seem abstract in all but name,” wrote Museum of Modern Art curator Leah Dickerman in a catalogue essay for the museum’s 2012–13 exhibition “Inventing Abstraction.”

And if Picasso had embraced this direction in his art, his would have been among the first Western paintings to be truly abstract. While this accolade is, and likely will always be, contestedWassily Kandinsky—often hailed as the “father of abstract painting”—didn’t display his first non-representational painting until December 1911.

But pure abstraction remained, as Richardson puts it, “a Rubicon [Picasso] would never cross.” When the Spanish painter returned to Paris in late August, he changed course. “It’s true that whatever Picasso felt about those works, he decided to stop this vein, to amend it shortly afterwards,” Bois explained.


Source: When Picasso Almost Invented Abstract Painting


Fresh off the Paintbrush

I started to gradually return to my old techniques now that I have a bit more room to dance again.  So I have produced 3 more pieces with a bit of the splashing going on.  I have always enjoyed this because you can create some amazing things.  Well, I think you can anyway.

Here are 3 of my latest pieces fresh of the paintbrush.  One medium sized painting and two small ones.

Medium sized painting: Devonshire Cat, Two; Small: Leftovers #1 and #2


An Artist’s Philosophy


Untitled –  Blues


“I believe art can be a learned process, it is also natural and a matter of what we see, feel and where we allow our hands to dance on the canvas, or our hands dance without our minds controlling them. You can learn the techniques but you cannot learn to tell your mind to be satisfied with the techniques you have learned. When I am with the paintbrush, I always feel like we are dancing together, sometimes harmoniously sometimes against each other. Sometimes we are dancing the Tango, sometimes a Waltz, sometimes we caress each other to a slow romantic dance and sometimes we are in aggressive moments of passion. If there is harmony, it is possible to produce something which shows harmony, if there is no harmony then you may as well put the brush down until you feel it come back.”

By James Presley


Dazed and Confused



James Presley – Interior Gallery


Gallery of abstract expressionism paintings in an interior setting for interior designers

Source: James Presley – Interior Gallery


Gallery of abstract expressionism paintings in an interior setting for interior designers

Source: James Presley – Interior Gallery


National Black Cat Day

Despite being just a lovable as their more colourful brothers and sisters, for years black cats have been neglected, faced suspicion, hostility and even death as a result of silly superstition.


Research from Cats Protection has revealed, on average, it takes 13 percent longer for black cats to find a new home compared to others while, between the years 2007 and 2013, Blue Cross saw a 65 percent rise in the number of black cats they took in annually.

Superstitions regarding black cats vary depending on the culture. While black cats are traditionally considered to be good luck in Britain, historically countries in Europe have considered black cats to be a symbol of evil omens and the familiars of witches.

Who says they don’t photograph well?


In Germany, a black cat crossing your path from left to right is considered to be a bad omen.

The fact that out of more than 1000 cats in its care, 70 percent are black or black and white and that the struggle to rehome them is not helped by superstition: “In UK folklore, black cats symbolise good luck, yet sadly, in reality, they are not so lucky.

“There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from the fact that black cats are harder to tell apart than cats with more distinctive markings and the fact that black animals tend not to photograph as well.”


Today is the annual ‘National Black Cat Day’ – a day designed to promote black cats and bring awareness to those who might be looking to purchase a kitten or rehome a cat.

As part of the day, black cat owners on social media show off their pets, hoping to disprove the superstitions and show black cats make as good a pet as any other cat.

Source: National Black Cat Day


Black Cat Day – 27th Oct, 2017 | Days Of The Year

Source: Black Cat Day – 27th Oct, 2017 | Days Of The Year

Black and white cats are also taken into consideration as it’s black and black and white cats that spend more time in care than any other colour cat.

Just look at our Dotty, how could you resist not taking her home 🙂DSCN0661


Ben Buchanan’s Never-Before-Seen Photos of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and New York’s Area Nightclub

Previously unseen photos by Ben Buchanan feature Warhol, Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Hockney, and other famous pals at New York’s Area nightclub.

Source: Ben Buchanan’s Never-Before-Seen Photos of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and New York’s Area Nightclub


“Imagine” I came across this old post: Prague John Lennon and Others

Loved this wall in Prague 2009

Presley Expressionism Artblog

So I was travelling a bit and discovered the Johm Lennon wall in Prague, and I did a bit of drawing on the train.


View original post


What’s the Best Way to Promote Yourself?

I’ve been painting passionately for about 17 years now.  I have always enjoyed art, but I only got really serious about it when I was about 30.  Since starting I have won international competitions, had exhibitions, have my art in galleries, both physically and online and send out promotions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, yet it has all amounted to nothing.

So how does an artist get out there and become known.  It leaves me thinking sometimes is what I am doing just a load of rubbish?  I don’t do what I do for praise or to please others.  I do it because I love to paint and I love to share my emotions and I do this best by putting brush to canvas.  The therapeutical value is an added bonus.  But, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to have my work in someone else’s home rather than in my own.  Making a few pennies selling a couple of pieces here and there would also be great.  I’d like to be an artist for a living, to spend the rest of my life doing what I love and be able to live off of the proceeds.


So if anyone has any ideas how to go about doing this or could give me some kind of a business plan I’d really appreciate it.  Let’s face it, we all know that by sharing your work in online art galleries is never going to earn your bread and butter as all they do is get you ‘likes’ from other artists who are all trying to do the same things.

You can click on my galleries in the sidebar if you are interested. 🙂


An old friend: A bit abstract, a bit expressionism, a bit of sealife

I was having a look through my media from posts on my blog yesterday and I came across some images of a painting, lost now, that I loved creating.  It brought back many memories, including all the space I used to have to paint in and that I could actually do paintings of this size.  I’d love to be able to paint a 20-metre painting one day.  I just love to do things on big surfaces.  🙂 I miss those days.

Anyway this painting put a smile on my face because it was so spontaneous and when I saw it again I thought how bright and shining it was.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  Feel free to comment.  I did some close ups of the special parts. Title of the painting is Sealife Divided, I think I did it around 2004. The mediums are, acrylic, enamel, spray paint, shells, wires and marble.


The Best Little Bears in the World

When they say “it runs in the family” or “it’s in your blood”, it certainly is in my family.  Everyone in my family is creative in one way or another and all I can say is we must have inherited it from our MUM.

Our mum has just turned 70 and she is still hard at her craft, which is making the tiniest, cutest bears you have seen especially for the avid miniature bear collector.  She is so good at it and they are so lovely and she just doesn’t realize it.   Even though our mum has won awards, gets praised all the time and no sooner does she finish making one that it’s whipped away to far corners of the Earth.

I hope when I am 70 I can still hold a paintbrush and create as my mum does her bears.  They are crocheted with the tiniest hooks or sewn with the minutest pieces of fabric and needles and she does all that even with her arthritis. She’s like the Maud Lewis of the bear making world.  I hope she gets more acknowledgement for her talent that she deserves.

Love you Mum XXX

To see what I am talking about have a look at some of her bears below or click here to see all of her wonderful creations.  A




My First Web Design jamespresley.design

I finally decided that it was time to get professional so I bought a web domain and design my web portfolio and gallery.  I already have a gallery with a third party host (artmajeur.com) but I want to have something more personal that I could create, design and tweak.  So now you can visit jamespresley.design and see everything neatly laid out.  I did lots of research on the layout and design and tried to make an attractive site which would be pleasing to the eye.

If you remember, not so long ago I posted about how different colours mean different things in different cultures and religions, so I tried to choose my colour palette wisely, using colours that would be acceptable in many societies.

Please have a click on my shiny new site and let me know what you think if you want.

This is the homepage

Ashmolean Museum Oxford Influences

Many moons ago, well from 2006 – 2009 I lived close to Oxford and for a while, I worked in the centre of Oxford so I used to take a wander around the city mostly taking in the sights.  There are some beautiful and historic buildings there and many a movie has been filmed there.  I once saw Ann Hathaway, well her chair anyway, on the set of a movie she was starring in there.


Anyway, in Oxford, there is a grand museum named the Ashmolean Museum, where I happened to visit one day.  Whilst looking around I came across the Egyptian artefacts and antiquities department and was amazed by the beautiful blue colours of the artefacts on display. These colours just stuck in my head and I decided that I wanted to try and achieve the colours that I had seen in some of my paintings.



While looking through some of my old works, I came across a few images of these attempts.  I know a couple of these were sold and there are definitely 2 on display on the Barbican in Plymouth and I’m pretty sure I completed about 10 altogether but I don’t know where they are.  I have moved around a lot from country to country and had to leave things behind.  But here’s the ones I could find anyway. Enjoy 🙂


Old Works, Old Memories

I was going through some DVDs that I brought back with me from abroad because when I returned to England I couldn’t bring my computer with me so I copied everything to DVDs.  I had completely forgotten what was on them and was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of images of some of my very old paintings.  Apart from that a lot of other interesting things.

It was interesting to see how my style has changed and how I create now with a different head on my shoulders.  In the past, I was drunk most of the time when I painted, my excuse was that I couldn’t create unless I had had a drink.  Now, I don’t drink anymore, at all and I still create.  I cannot judge if my paintings are better or worse, or just different, or maybe they have always been crap.  I don’t care either way, all I know is that now when I paint I have a completely clear head and I enjoy every minute of it.

I have created a new gallery on my site at Artmajeur but below you can see some of my old stuff.


Jackson Pollock – Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952


Blue Poles Number 11

Painted relatively late in Jackson Pollock’s career, this painting conveys the unique skill that Pollock had by now achieved with his infamous ‘drip’ technique. Executed on unstretched canvas laid flat on the floor, both the artist’s dripping, splashing and pouring of paint onto the work’s surface and the scale of the painting itself, clearly reveals the highly physical aspect of Pollock’s technique. It could equally be regarded as a performance. Pollock believed that his abandonment of traditional painting tools (he preferred to use sticks, cooking basters or pour directly from the paint can) and the paintings he produced reflected the realms of unconscious experience but also responded to contemporary life. As he stated: “The modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any past culture”.

In marked contrast to the artist’s classic works of 1947–50, the electric colours of Blue Poles in no way reflect the palette of nature as earlier paintings had done. Blue Poles is for Pollock an ambitious transitional work where not only colour, but the artist’s handling of composition, mark a conscious move away from previous work. While in many ways continuing his now trademark ‘all-over’ composition, Pollock pushed his endeavours in abstraction further by introducing the bold presence of the eight blue ‘poles’ that intersect the canvas. Pollock uses the prominent slashes of Blue Poles to reintroduce the conventional notion of figure and ground into his work, but without making any concession to traditional concepts of perspective. In Blue Poles, the ‘figure’ is, quite radically, the abstract mark.

Since its controversial purchase by the Australian National Gallery (now National Gallery of Australia), Canberra in 1973, Blue Poles has assumed an iconic place in recent Australian history. Contemporary debates surrounding the painting at the time of its acquisition extended far beyond discussions relating to its artistic merit and position in Pollock’s career. Given the work’s enormous price tag – then a world record for a work by a twentieth-century artist – Blue Poles came to embody, almost by default, a number of issues particularly relevant to Australia. These included the role of art and politics, the validity and global impact of the Abstract Expressionism, as well as questions surrounding the purchase of the painting as a signifier (for Whitlam’s Labor Government) of modern nationhood.

Now a much-lauded and internationally celebrated work, first-hand experience of Pollock’s mesmerising and complex painting serves to reinforce the enormity of the artist’s impact on twentieth century art. While initially ridiculed by the American press in 1949 as ‘Jack the Dripper’, Jackson Pollock is now recognised as one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century.

Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

With his cowboy persona, characteristically casual attire and appearance in the widely-circulated Life magazine, Jackson Pollock was the first American artist to capture the popular imagination. Brought to worldwide fame after his death in a car crash in 1956, Pollock’s life and art came to be seen to capture both the possibilities and perils of postwar American society. While Jackson Pollock’s untimely death, and the almost mystical intrigue of his abstract paintings, have served to emphasise both the ‘romance’ and ‘heroism’ of the artist’s public persona, Pollock’s achievements as a painter cannot be overshadowed. His friend and patron, the artist Alfonso Ossorio said of Pollock’s career: “Here I saw a man who had both broken all the traditions of the past and unified them, who had gone beyond cubism, beyond Picasso and surrealism, beyond everything that had happened in art … his work expressed both action and contemplation”.

Jackson Pollock was born in the United States in Cody, Wyoming on 28 January 1912. He was the youngest of five brothers, born into a farming family that struggled financially and moved a number of times during the young boy’s life. After some early art training in Riverside, California and Los Angeles, in 1930 Pollock enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City under the tuition of the figurative painter Thomas Hart Benton. It was during the early 1930s that Pollock first encountered the work of Mexican mural painters Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, whose work was to prove an early influence on his own art. After a period of depression in the late 1930s, during which very little painting took place, Pollock commenced Jungian analysis. He returned to painting with renewed vigour in 1940.

Fellow abstract artist Lee Krasner (who Pollock first met in 1936 and married in 1945) was central to Pollock’s life and instrumental in the subsequent development of his career. Another influential contact was with Peggy Guggenheim, a wealthy art collector who was to become one of the most significant early supporters and promoters of Pollock’s work. Pollock first exhibited at Guggenheim’s ‘Art of this Century’ gallery in 1942.

In 1945 Pollock and Krasner moved from New York to The Springs in East Hampton, Long Island. Pollock initially established his studio in an upstairs bedroom before relocating it to the barn. This move to the Hamptons was to herald a period of relative stability and great creativity in Pollock’s life.

While continuing to produce monumental paintings such as Blue Poles during the early 1950s, Pollock became increasingly despondent about his work and by 1956, the year of his death, had not painted for more than twelve months.