Usually I group my drawings into a gallery setting. Not today. Yesterday's drawings deserve to be seen alone, not next to one another. They are complex. I have often questioned the efficacy of complexity. At times I believed my work is too complex, thus disturbing the viewer. I do not believe that is the case with yesterday's drawings. Am I fooling myself? Am I getting away with murder? I actually believe I am defeating the coherent planer world, not murdering it. For the first time I feel my work is bolstered by the achievements of Paul Cézanne and Georges Braque. To show you what I mean, please look at the two reproductions of paintings by Cézanne and Braque (below my work). Cézanne and Braque has a propensity toward complexity, as seen in these reproductions of their work. Strangely, I do not feel "influenced" by either Cézanne or Braque. Their work supports mine without competition. They are who they are, and I am who I am.
Before I go, I should write something about the painting "2016 No.14", which is now in state 5. It took a good turn yesterday. It is in a battle with itself. A battle between structural complexity and emotional simplicity. It is being solved. It also is successfully dealing with my recent concern of Biomorphic distraction.
I am so sorry that my emotions take over and distract from the business at hand. Yesterday I was dragging. The restless night before took its toll. Still, I like yesterday's two drawings. I was too tired to paint. The painting "2016 No.14" sat in front of me. I did not have the energy to act upon it. The artifice of shadows cast on the artifice of the floor, disturb. The local and the atmospheric colors don't jive. They disturb. They distract. Making art is like being seated in a restaurant, feeling a breeze from the air conditioner blowing across one's neck and head. It disturbs. It distracts. You move. "2016 No.14" requires a changes. It disturbs. It distracts. I need to move upon it. That will wait till tomorrow. This is my apology to myself. Making art is an iterative process. It is the same process I learned when I studied engineering. Two steps forward, one back, two forward, et cetera. Yes, it never ends, but it does move forward. Knowledge is forever acquired. There is immortality in making art. It is never done. There is always a next step. The limit of a painting is the limit of current knowing. Knowing has no limits, but it cannot be acquired more quickly than it reveals itself. Art is a record of the acquisition of knowing. The greatest tragedy in being human is the physicality of it all. We require rest, sleep. We wear down. Fortunately rest brings renewed energy. Tomorrow I will work on "2016 No.14".
Before becoming an artist I was a scientist. Last night reminded me much of a night I remember during my undergraduate education. It was the night before a final exam in Physics. Back then I could not stop the formulas and ideas about everything from mechanics to electricity and magnetism from spilling into my head. I tossed and turned and saw images and formulas flash in and out. It was not a night of rest. More like a night of an onslaught. I could not escape then, and I could not escape last night. There was no peace to be found. Last night I could not stop the forms I am finding in my art from being in my head. They were omni-present, visual and dream-like. These forms composed themselves into pictures. They were brittlely real. Shattering in my mind, then moving onto a new composition, one after another. Wild, uncontrollable, disconcerting. Yet, I feel, as I did back then before the Physics exam, that this is a clue to the soundness of my knowledge. True knowledge is imbedded within me. The art I am making has authenticity. It rings true, as my understanding of Physics rang true. There is a call here. I have arrived at something truly important to me.
Today's title should be "The Residue of Distraction", but I like the word "crime" more. I often think that being an artist is similar to being a criminal. Both artists and criminals must do a heck of a lot of problem solving in order to deceive. What did Picasso say? Something like, "Art is a lie that makes one understand the truth." I agree. Yes, I have been distracted. By a power outage. My studio, my art making, is solely dependent upon electric light. Actually, the days away from the studio were good for me. I needed to recharge. That's it! I need to go. I need to make art!
Is there a best way to untangle the mess that is within me? I look at the work of young painters and see extreme derivation. Their work looks like other people's work. I am certainly past this. Now what? Slow is the operative word. Sluggish it feels. Yet, I know I am disentangling that which has so confusingly taken residence within my core. Look at today's drawings! They are "top of the morning to you"! Yes, bright awakenings, as if the slumbering adjectives within my bowels are aroused because they have hit the light of day. This may sound exciting, but I feel a bit depressed. I have dreamed that life as a painter would be life of creative exhilaration. It just ain't so. Victories over darkness do feel good, but amity because of those successes, is temporary. Here I am, feeling alone with the confusion that must be unravelled. It is time for me to stop being alone. I know the work is mine, mine alone, but I know my sharing it is now more important than ever. The next step in my evolution is here and there, as well as here and now. If I don't do this, step out, I will slowly wither within my self-mystery.
Are shame and humor closely aligned? You often hear that women find men attractive who humorously self-deprecate. Daily readers of this blog know I have been physically and emotionally stressed by my recent social activities. Strange as it may seem, this brings shame. In the studio I have felt out-of-touch. This usually means there is a disconnect in my personality. Where is reality? Most likely I distrust as a result of mental and physical exhaustion. Yesterday I looked for humor in art-making. Did I find it? Not sure. I did find an idea worth pursuing. On my studio wall I have a reproduction of a still life by Pablo Picasso. I admire it because it hits hard through use of humor. I need more of this is my own work. I have said before, Picasso's masterpiece of war and destruction, "Guernica", is made tolerable through Picasso's humorous invention of form. Below I reproduce for you two of Picasso's still life paintings, the first from 1938 (during World War II and one year after "Guernica"), the second from 1962. I believe art can me made more available to the viewer, no matter what emotions it carries, if it has a sense of humor.
I had a choice of titles. "Nothing Much", or the one you see here. I was tired yesterday. I was in recovery. First, from a late night with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, then came a late night (with friends) watching the recent James Bond film, "Spectre". Social activities tire me. Recent studio work has been little, and nothing much. Last night I got a good night's sleep. Today I am better prepared for the studio.
Last night, did not get to bed till 2am. Went to blues concert: "Tedeschi Trucks Band", "North Mississippi Allstars", "Los Lobos". Good stuff! 2am is really late for me. Today I am dragging. So won't write much. I do need to say... Yesterday's two drawings exhibit the dichotomy of my dilemma. Both contain forcefully three-dimensional forms, but the first is definitely biomorphic (looks like dismembered ant on box), while the second's forms are definitely non-biological. I greatly prefer No.2. Yeah. I'm learning.
There is a line denoting the top front rectangle of the space creating structure within which the main form lies. (That was a mouthful!) I am questioning that line. In this state of the painting, "2016 No.14", the main form appears behind the upper line of the spatial box. I left it that way because I question the line's position relative to the form. "Should the line go in front of, or behind, the limb?" Looking at today's reproduction, I think the limb should lie behind the line. This linear questioning continues in my drawings. I am questioning spatial truth versus composition. I do not believe a line need always speak authentically in terms of the space it denotes. A trick of space is sometimes better then reliance upon that which is known to be true in the real world of our walk-around experience. This is art. It is artifice. It speaks for itself. Art is a lie that informs one's knowledge of truth. This means that confusion within a work of art can make the viewer better know the actuality of truth.
Too high a level of biomorphism bothers me. I believe strong biomorphism forces the viewer to think of animals and insects and extraterrestrial aliens (as depicted in films), rather than clear-sightedly being involved with composition, color, and forms. I want the viewer to visually dive into my art, be consumed by its reality. I don't want the viewer to think about external references. I want them to be here, now. Is this possible? Not completely. We all live in a world of forms and color. Our references are demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. Those who find spiders an emotional conundrum probably see a spider in "2016 No.14" (although it only has four appendages). I see a form stretching itself, forcing the space into three-dimensions. I am hoping this causes spatial tintinnabulation, making the absence of form ring, as if the air itself is alive. This is me trying to enliven the third-dimension of negative space on a two-dimensional plane.
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