SJ Fowler – Aletta Ocean’s Alphabet Empire


A book of pansemic or asemic writings, hand wrought, using indian ink, techniques edging around writing, vying with abstraction, watercolour. The drawings of Henri Michaux, the writing art of Christian Dotremont, others I can throw in, Yves Klein.

The book will be a strictly limited edition art book, and will be launched at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green London on November 25, 2017.

Steve will also be launching

The Poem Brut 

Four new limited edition art books and an exhibition at Rich Mix as well as, beyond my own work, a programme of books, events, exhibitions and installations that explores the visual and contextual character of poetry and text, and in so doing the overlaps between modern art and modern poetry.

About the project: What is in the shape of a letter? What images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry and text upon the page? And white space? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In literature, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? In the UK especially these questions fundamental to most other artforms have been neglected. The Poem Brut, in a playful, creative and accessible manner, aims to redress some of these concerns.

The Poem Brut explores the language art, the art of poetry – handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, concrete poetry and more. This is an examination of words that are meant to make you squint, to battle for legibility, rather than you be able to pinch and extend your thumb and forefinger against the page to get a closer look. A celebration of scribbling, crossings out, forgotten notes, strange scrawls – the odd interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, and the colours that randomly collide. It is a project about the page as a block, about geometry, about lines that sever meaning, about inarticulate shapes, about minimalism and collage. It is about making, gesturing towards the handmade, the amateur, the outside, liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. It is a response to being called an artist in the poetry world, and a poet in the arts world.

As a major part of our day becomes how much time to spend online, and a movement slowly arises to disengage from online existence, so The Poem Brut is also intended to be a tiny return to the obscure, inarticulate, child-like intensity of our making marks upon a page, pen, brush, pencil to paper, that which underpinned the art brut and all it was influenced by.

Drawing on the great post-war figures of avant-garde poetry and visceral text art, and so interrogating the limitations of these definitions, The Poem Brut will refer back to European figures still profoundly underappreciated in the UK, most especially in literature. Henri Michaux, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, the CoBrA group, Messa.

Works that explore language as markings, that return to the lost languages of linguistic history alongside the immediacy of groundbreaking art movements that used text freely and influenced practitioners from Basquiat to Twombly, will be created and brought into focus. Both those who pioneered such works in poetry and art will be brought together, from the last seven decades and the now.

Lots more on Steve’s visual art projects on his website here