Jackson Pollock – A Centennial Retrospective

The first Pollock exhibition ever held in Japan

I have just home back from the first day of the Jackson Pollock Exhibition held at The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. I am buzzing!


The exhibition was fantastic and very inspiring. 70 of Pollocks works, including his early work during his student days, were beautifully displayed.

It was so good to be able to get up very close to these. I was able to spend considerable time in peaceful contemplation, studying each work and making notes. I didn’t feel the need to make sketches but intend to do some work from the pictures in the catalogue I bought. The lighting and layout was excellent. The information was all in Japanese but I was delighted that the Jackson Pollock film that was running continually was undubbed, so at last I could understand something! I sat for twenty minutes or so listening to and watching the artist at work!

I was interested to hear the artist’s statement that he never worked from studies or drawings and the art just took over. Indeed he looked like a man possessed as he worked quickly and without a pause (apart from every so often putting out a cigarette or lighting a new one).

When I am in painting, I’m not aware of what I am doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted period’ thatI see what I have been about.

Jackson Pollock. ‘My Painting Possibilities’, Winter 1947-48

I enjoyed watching his technique of painting his huge floor canvases using a big brush (or more often than not a large flat stick) to daub paint, each stroke ending with a flourish. He then proceeded to splatter paint. The film also showed him painting on glass.

I paint on the floor and this isn’t unusual – the Orientals did that.

Jackson Pollock, interview with William Wright, 1950.

The film and the reconstruction of his studio, along with paint-splattered floor and Pollock’ tins of house paint and enamel and tubes of tempura, all gave me an understanding of the artist I could not have gained from purely looking at his works.

I was very interested to see his early student works, which showed his ability in representational drawing and painting

I am so lucky in that I can walk there in 10 minutes – I will probably be making a number of trips there!

Lots of ideas for mark-making. Many of Pollock’s drawings contained a mixture of styles, techniques and doodles. Many of the works were mixed-media, including a range of materials including cardboard, screwed up newspaper, beads, pebbles, newspaper etc. I should just let myself go and get doodling. I plan to start with calligraphy ink and have a go at some Pollock-inspired mark-making. I am thinking of starting with a small piece of one of Pollock’s works on my paper as a starting pint and see where it takes me. I do not like starting with a blank page, so think I will paint a few pages in my sketchbook. Media used by Pollack, as seen as the works on display, included enamel, gouche, coloured pencil, pastel, graphite, aluminium paint, house paint.

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