Composition with a Drum-head
Composition with a Drum-head 1964
The significance of this piece to the artist is that it is the first ever piece of work he produced that was not on paper. It's being made of relatively heavy solid matter was important. AMA was seventeen at the time and about to enter his last academic year at Uppingham School.
AMA had only just started to study art, taking exams at 'O' and then 'A' Level; his reading of Herbert Read's 'An Introduction of Modern Art' was a revelation to him. It seemed easier to produce something in the style of, say, Hans Arp or other Dada type artists rather than Rembrandt or Velasquez etc. why not have a go? This composition started life as a line drawing making simplistic reference to the drawings of Paul Klee but AMA felt he wanted to add substance to it; it was the beginning of a love affair with the realm of physical matter as art material.
It was going to be black on white like the drawing, but AMA had not got any white canvas, or similar, which he thought would add a bit of texture. Perchance, an off-cut of his sister's flame red dress was available, and having added that to the top part of the composition, intending to paint it white, he noticed that its colour value really added something to the visual balance of the piece, and so his enduring interest in visual dynamics and abstract composition was initiated.
It just happened that AMA had purloined an unwanted drum tensioning hoop, vehicle cogwheel and a piece of brass rod. Working with solid materials was clearly going to appeal to the young artist; paint was only going to be used either to demarcate areas within further compositions to invite sensual response or provide information that was otherwise not there.
Mixed Media : Plaster, dress fabric, steel cog, brass rod, acrylic paint on wooden panel.
66.3 x 76.5 x 8 cms