John Ward Knox

welcome home sun, 6 July 2010 - 30 July 2010
John Ward Knox
July 2010


"Sometimes you hear a song and you like it because it is a good song. Maybe you don't think about it much after that, but then one day somebody plays you another version and you get moved to breathlessness because it is no longer a good song but a great song. Sometimes the difference can be something extra or something less, and sometimes it can be almost exactly the same thing but it is coming from somewhere else.

This happened to me recently with the song "A change is gonna come" which I knew from Otis Redding but then heard by Sam Cooke and it was like discovering great riches, which is so much being drawn upward and falling away from something. Maybe it was that Redding sings the line beyond the clouds and that Cooke sings beyond the sky and where Redding uses his singing voice to make the word clouds waver so you can like it like music, Cooke lets his voice fall flat on sky and he could be talking to you about something that you are both coming to know. Or maybe it happened in another way like in 'The Tennessee Waltz' where Pee Wee King sings while they were dancing so it is like being informed of something and then Patti Page sings it and when she sings the word they her voice ascends so that it disappears or turns into chalk and it is like an ordinary precious object that has been handled so often that it is almost gone.

These little things are important to think about when you are borrowing material because they can be the difference between mimicry and creativity. So I have tried to borrow good things and to do so little to them and with such great economy that all I am adding is an absence of light. Where I have painted least heavily are the areas that have projected or reflected the most and in the end this is the real material. If these paintings are to be any good the material has to be allowed to speak for itself."