Insert Shape (After Matisse) #4 (2021)


A fourth collection of abstract compositions with their provenance in the cookie-cutter toolsets of Powerpoint, inspired by Matisse’s use of scissors and paper and produced as part of my response to The Kick-About No.38. Again, I found myself rather enamoured by the vintage-vibes coming off some of these examples, that sense of something ‘modern’ being dreamed up by a mid-20th Century imagination. I look at these and wish I had the reserves to explore them as large-scale prints on expensive papers, or as textiles, or as floor-plans for rather wondrous ‘futuristic’ architecture.



Insert Shape (After Matisse) #2 (2021)


More images produced as part of my response to The Kick-About No.38, which took the cut-outs of Henri Matisse as its prompt, and more images resulting from an improbably happy marriage between Powerpoint and Photoshop. In contrast to the these previous images, I enlisted one of Powerpoints ‘ready-mades’ – an off-the-peg icon of some seaweed with some passing resemblance to some of Matisse’s own plant forms. Different visual chemistry this time around, with the layerings resulting in mosaical effects, putting me in mind of Gaudi.



Insert Shape (After Matisse) #1 (2021)


Henri Matisse turned to scissors and coloured paper for expediency to produce his celebrate cut-outs, which surely derive their energy from that directness. In thinking about my approach to The Kick-About No.38, I wanted to identify an equivalency for Matisse’s scissors – a ubiquitous tool – and the speediness of producing shapes, for then combining in different ways. So it was I began my image-making with Powerpoint – oh yes, the infamous ‘presentation-maker’, notorious as software for producing will-sapping slides to be shown in under-ventilated rooms.



One of the application’s off-the-peg tools is ‘Insert Shapes’ – which allows you to draw simple shapes with a quick drag of your mouse, and then colour and outline them as you see fit. I used Powerpoint to produce collections of basic shapes – circles, rectangles and squares (and later, some of Powerpoint’s cookie-cutter plant form icons) – and then brought these ‘cut-outs’ into Photoshop, where I set about layering them one on top of the other with as much immediacy as I could muster.

I started simply at first, with just circles and squares and some dotted outlines, and very quickly lots of nice things happened, with the layering producing some effortlessly nostalgic effects. My mouth began to water a bit, wishing I could occupy a few more timelines, wherein I was a textile artist, or designer of vast tiled murals in brand spanking-new tube stations, or Great Exhibition-style posters celebrating the ‘shock of the new’.

It perhaps won’t surprise you to hear I got rather carried away, so there’s a few more examples of my fantasia on a theme of Matisse-meets-Powerpoint to share over the coming days.