"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time..."
-from the Beatles' song, Getting Better
Yesterday's drawings are a revelation. Looking at, and writing about, George Condo was helpful. At first glance his work is bizarre and outside the traditions of western art. Yet beginning on the 26th of this month he will have a major retrospective at the New Museum in New York City. Condo's work has allowed me to accept the limitations of my own work.
Yesterday's drawings have a sensitivity to facial emotions and form which is stronger than ever. These drawings are a product of insight. I am accepting my most intense interests. Throughout my career I have fought to be more than I am. I have tried to deal with fundamental genres in western art, such as landscape, still life, and abstraction. I have tried to make images in which I have no interest. I am only interested in the emotions and relationships expressed by the human figure and its physiognomy. And, like George Condo, I am interested in the emotive effects created by composition. Composition, for me, is a means to interact emotionally with the viewer. The upfront close-ups of yesterday's drawings are examples of one type of compositional power, and the image of "Man with Plant" (MEHRBACH.com) is another. (I have posted an image of George Condo's immediately below my drawings to give you a straightforward look at Condo's awareness of compositional power.)
This is a print by George Condo, shown to give you a sense of his compositional skills.
A little more on George Condo, and then I will let him go. Here is quote from the New Museum's introduction to the George Condo retrospective, opening January 26, 2011:
"Since first bursting onto the scene in the early 1980s with his unique adaptation of the language of Old Master painting, George Condo has created one of the most adventurous, imaginative, and provocative bodies of work in contemporary art. Condo’s work has been deeply influential to two generations of American and European painters, who have felt the impact of the artist’s astonishing technical ability, stylistic versatility, and inventive subject matter."
Often you hear references to "Old Masters" with George Condo work. This is more hype than reality. The reference is there in his imagery, but the "Old Master" facility with form and light is not so strong. I show one more example of Condo's work. For me the lesson is this: "Stick with your natural impulses." Whatever one makes of George Condo's work, good or bad, he is prolific and has produced a persuasively powerful body of work. I endeavor to do the same. Following my basic motivation is much more important than continuing a dialogue with the masters. As I leave you with one more George Condo work I will also compare it to a painting by the greatest of "Old Masters," Rembrandt. Through similar subject matter, the reclining nude, the Condo and the Rembrandt illustrate of the great distance between Condo's work and that of the "Old Masters."
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