Recently, Charlie Clough has been developing a new way to produce his work using a group of creative collaborators. Charlie guides the evolution of the painting through many stages of production and documentation. In his Westerly Project he continues to find new expressive possibilities for known “styles,” and he works those styles into a type of conceptual brand production. As Charlie explains: “This method is developed from the evolution of Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract-expressionism, Post-painterly Abstraction, Neo-expressionism and Pictures Theory. It is distinguished by the participation of others in the painting of the painting and the casting of Clough as the “un-painter”.” In essence Charlie becomes the producer and director of the project while the credited “actors-artists” make the work – a sort of Clough Brand Painting – in front of the lens. Charlie has always been willing to step back and watch his work evolve – at times using handmade tools to distance his direct involvement, and lenses and computer programs to further deconstruct the process of his painting. We asked Charlie what Style VS Brand might mean in the context of his practice:
Artists want attention, art is nothing if not a public relation. Gombrich wrote “From Giotto’s day onwards the history of art is the history of the great artists”.
I see branding as the connection between name and legend. I see style as the visual development of the oeuvre through time. They are both inescapable, in whatever degree, from the first moment of exhibition or publication. As much as I covet the success of Koons, Hirst & Murakami, I admire their ability for gaining attention.
I find myself imagining my practice as being morally superior to those guys, but it’s not. I’ve got my story but it isn’t as well-known (yet). In 1976 I determined my project to be “the photographic epic of a painter as a film or a ghost” and I have had the time to fulfill it. Recently my works entered fifty museum collections and a curator contacted me regarding a forty-year retrospective of my work. As these things unfold, work that I haven’t seen for years is going to start making my story public. Sure, I want more and faster, but I’m in a good place…