Making collages

[……..] This, of course, did not prevent me from painting, thinking about art and visiting exhibitions that I found interesting. After all, art was my métier as the French would put it. But at this stage of my life, having a somewhat general depressive approach to art, I was sometimes thinking that it may well be that art is not that important. There were too many painters anyway, and they have already painted too many pictures. There was nothing one could do about the number of people who were, are, or considered themselves to be artists. What I could do though, was to reduce the number of paintings.

The idea of a painting is simple: one takes paper or a framed canvass, takes paint or pieces of paper (if the intention is to make a collage), and paints with a brush or assembles the pieces, to make art. The paper, the canvass and the brush are only the raw material, the bricks. Only the finished piece is art. There is no rule that prevents me from using accomplished pieces of art as my raw material. If I take two, three or even more paintings or drawings, tear them to pieces and make one collage out of them, I will reduce the number of pictures. Moreover, if I am able to put my hands on a canvass by a famous old master, someone like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso or Rembrandt, each of whose pictures is worth many millions of pounds and make, (out of them), one collage by Shimon Tzabar, it will be worth much less. This I will count as an added advantage. Not only will I be able to reduce the number of paintings in the universe, I will be able to make them cheaper, so that poor folk can also afford them.

But before I could play with this new style of painting, I had to find a name for it. Names are important because there is always the danger that someone who looked at them would ask me what they were called. Unquestionably, these pictures were collages. But being made up of other pictures, they were also the product of an act of cannibalism. If I combined collage with cannibalism, I got canniballage, which didn't sound too bad. Now it was time to practice it.

Although I had a small collection of pictures by other artists, pictures that I bought, exchanged or had been given as presents, I had to start with my own paintings. It wouldn't be fair to destroy other people's pictures before I ascertained that the new approach really worked. I did a combination of two portraits of my own work: a black and white charcoal drawing and oil painting on paper. It did look quite nice to me (see Double Portrait with a Cigarette). I then proceeded to a canniballage made out of three of my own wood prints and an aquarelle. It too looked OK to me (see Townscape). Now I had the courage to destroy other artists' pictures. First I did a mixture: I combined two of my own oil abstracts with a still-life with a guitar, an oil painting by Meirke Lazar, who had been a fellow student at my art school (see Collage of Canvas with Guitar).
Looking at these canniballages, I decided that the idea was good. It created beautiful pictures that were more interesting then the originals of which they were made. Now it was time to go out and buy more pictures to cannibalise. I went to Bonham's auction rooms and purchased three 19th Century watercolours. They cost me £235. I made one canniballage out of them, but was not entirely happy with the result. The composition demanded an aeroplane. I went out again and visited different auction houses but I could not find a painting with an aeroplane. I had to put in its place a photograph of an aeroplane that I found in a magazine (see Collage with Aeroplane). Getting my hands on an Old or a New Master painting to make a caniballage was not easy. The Van Gogh I found in an auction room went for £38 million. The Picasso was slightly cheaper, but again, I could not afford it. I had to make my canniballage out of prints of the masterpieces. Admittedly, the solution was not elegant, but I had no choice because I did not have the money. The Portrait after Ingres, for example, is a print of a portrait by Ingres to which I added my own bit. […….]

[Note: The canniballages referred to above can be seen in the Collage section]