As promised, yesterday I began a new painting, 2017 No.13. I do feel reinvigorated. This stuff is important. The painting 2017 No.11 was completed; it has very few alterations when compared to its previous state. 2017 No.11 is a grand painting. It is one reason for my reinvigoration. My ability to push these three-dimensional abstractions to finality is clearly understood. My ability to accomplish finality is great. All of yesterday's work feels very good, very right.
NOTE on state 1 of 2017 No.13: The underdrawing seen in today's reproduction of 2017 No.13 was accomplished using an oil paint stick, color = slate blue. A bit of white oil paint was used to cover portions of the painting.
Who's there? Not who you think! These are abstract images, yes, but they are also non-representational. The visualization is emotionally referenced, but not unkind or aggressive, just exploratory. That said, the spatial play, insisted upon in these drawings, is robust. One can follow the floor via shadows and marks. The outgrowth of forms above the plane is scary. The unease within these drawings is, to me, like hovering over a chasm while walking on a rope bridge. I am surprised by my personal discomfort. Is this a good thing? I don't know. When a viewer engages with Picasso's Guernica, or one of the more emotive self-portraits by Van Gogh or Rembrandt, is feeling safe important? Revelatory they are. Representational works are more direct than the drawings I show you today. Representation in Guernica, or in a self-portrait, is obvious. Do not take the images represented in my drawings as obvious!
It does not really look like mayhem; perhaps upheaval is a better word to describe that which I feel. The stuff I am producing has order, but each surprises me like a riot in my mind. It is better for me to approach without intent than to plan and to organize prior to execution. The odd idea here is the precision of attack is deceptive. This painting, and these drawings, look organized, premeditated. They are not! When murder is committed the question is asked, is it one of passion or one calculated and preplanned. Well, my work has become the former, not the latter. The problem with writing this is the problem of being. I am stuck with who I am, so no matter how much effort I make to remain open to the chaos of discovery, behold the stuff I produce is about me. Personal psyche, ego, id, cannot be escaped! According to Sigmund Freud, the super-ego is the critical and moralizing portion of psyche that can stop one from doing certain things one wishes to do. I am trying to subjugate my super-ego! Of course, my self-analysis is inaccurately Freudian, but I hope I get across my point. I am trying to find my mythological origins, as abstractly disorganized as they are. I am seeking to find images which sing the border between chaos and order, between living and death.
Is that a cloud? Is that an abstracted man? I don't know. I had just under two hours in the studio to produce this one drawing. This is where I went. This is what I made! One thing is for sure, my "cloud"(?) is not vaporous, but solid. All my forms tend to be solid. Am I complaining? No. I am more interested in the solidity of existence than the vaporous and nondescript. There must be personal philosophical information in that statement!
I know these reproductions look small on your screen ― don't forget to click on them for enlargement.
Yesterday's drawings appear to be about the artifice of space. I am questioning its possibilities. Unusual in the first drawing is the direction of light (usually I rake it from right to left, but in this one the light crosses diagonally, from lower left). The second drawing plays with line leading to forms, front to back. The lighting in the second drawing is neither important or interesting (it is the contrast in values and shapes that are interesting). The third drawing swoops the forms from front to back, rotating them in space as if on a diagonal arc.
So, yes, these drawings vary in their questions about structure. I am exploring the emotional and intellectual affects of invented forms in three-dimensional space. This 3D space is, of course, artificially depicted on two-dimensional pieces of paper.
When does an image get so complex it is emotionally unreadable? That is today's worry. Yesterday produced a complex drawing and the beginning of a complex painting. I take solace in Willem de Kooning's best paintings. They are complex, readable, emotive, and intellectually satisfying. Perhaps that is the goal in my work. I say, "perhaps..." because it is unravelling as I write. As example, it is difficult to show you a representative painting from de Kooning's mature years of production. Most of de Kooning's work is copyright restricted. Below you will see a reproduction of a de Kooning mid-career painting from 1955.
How do I know if something is better than it was before I altered it? Sinking into mindfulness is the only way. Mindfulness means acceptance without criticism. My mini-abstract era was fine and dandy, but I am more than that. I require more than that. The world requires more than that. STOP! I must not denigrate my era of abstraction (or was it an era of non-representation?). It was not fear, nor confusion, that drove me to abstraction. It was a quest for more mindful compositions. I will not promise myself that I will not do it again. The journey I am on is not pre-defied. It is my journey. I have no knowledge of my next step. I am here and now. I am being as I step. I am being swept away by my inquiry into who and where and why I am. This journey is not about doing. Admiringly, I do the dishes, but I will not do art. The journey is most important. I must not confuse myself by defining the where or there I am going.
Drawings from 9/5/2015, both pencil on paper, 20X16 inches
Are you ready for this? Am I ready for this? I am beginning to accept that I am more interested in light and form as didactic elements than that which they representationally mimic. I have always thought the work of Richard Diebenkorn is important to me. Diebenkorn, like other artists I admire (Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, J.M.W. Turner) went back and forth between representation and abstraction. Like the others whom I admire, Diebenkorn found a means to emotionally express without the necessity to mimic the visual world we live in. I think (!?) this is my direction as well. It makes more sense to me, at this moment in time, than me pursuing the emotive in human figuration.
Drawings from 8/9/2015, all are pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
There was a big break yesterday. At this moment I do not know if it is permanent. I always second guess myself. I often return to retest my proclivities and my priorities. Is this non-representation or abstraction? I think abstraction. (From Wikipedia: Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.) I believe my work does have "visual references in the world." To me, abstraction means it has visual clues, which hark back to real life references. These visual clues are open to interpretation by both creator and viewer. Yesterday's drawing feels right to me. Recently I have not been happy with my representational work. I have found it disturbingly referential, as if its search for meaning is wrong and out of kilter. More later, I am sure.
Yesterday started with two small drawings. Then came painting. The painting started with the priority of changing the man's left arm. It took off from there. I moved between altering his arm, his head, his neck, and the block-like abstract form in the upper left quadrant. The man's new, improved, stronger arm, works better. As does his head, neck, and shoulders. In summation, my universal acceptance of three-dimensional forms as abstract forms can be seen right here, right now. In this painting, Leap, it is occurring everywhere, in every form. That which is known as arm, or fish, or head, or block, or stream of water, are all manifested as robust, three-dimensional, formal animators, of the composition.
Drawings from 04/30/2015, each are 14X11 inches, pencil on paper
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