I am beginning to understand. My paintings are bon mots. They are witticisms thrust upon the world, each an equivoque of reality. Everything I make has more than one meaning. The very idea of creating a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional canvas is an equivoque, having two meanings, 3D-space and 2D-space playing upon one another, having two simultaneous meanings. Some may call my ambiguity of space more akin to malapropism; is it not incorrect to create the artifice of the third-dimension on a flat surface?
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple (correct or fairly reasonable) interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, especially as their usage and meaning are usually specific to a particular language or its culture.
I have often referred to the feigning of the third dimension on a two-dimensional surface as artifice. Here is it again, in a new painting, and in a new drawing; both are products of yesterday's studio session. The painting is aptly entitled "Clever Liars"; its third-dimension is a lie. My quotation is an old one, one with no known author. The idea is "details" diminish the cleverness of a lie. Too many details in a lie diminish its acceptance in marriages, business, and politics, not so in art. The more detail in a drawing, or a painting, the more the viewer accepts the artifice. If you don't believe me, or if you don't see this in the work I post today, view the 2014 watercolor painting by Anselm Kiefer, below; you can feel your eye fall into Kiefer's painting, scoping back until the eye hits the artifice that appears to be a sunset.
This use of the third dimension is very important to me. I find an image which engages the viewer because it insists upon being seen with a third-dimension, a grandly accepted lie; the lie of depth on a flat plane, forces the viewer to think actuality, i.e., the viewer has an additional incentive to believe the image before them mimics reality. They fall into the artwork as people fall into a con job. I have been told the greatest cons are those the "mark" believe they have determined to benefit themselves; the mark determines they will benefit by causing a loss to the con-artist; the "stooge" thinks the "grifter" does not understand how he, the "confidence man," will lose when the "sucker" goes ahead and takes the bait.
FYI: A confidence trick is also known as a con game, a con, a scam, a grift, a hustle, a bunko (or bunco), a swindle, a flimflam, a gaffle, or a bamboozle. The intended victims are known as marks, suckers, stooges, mugus, rubes, or gulls (from the word gullible). When accomplices are employed, they are known as shills.
I am trying to be straightforwardly honest in this Age of Denial. Denying has become an art form. Materially, Art is Real, but it speaks a language that is a step away from the reality it depicts. I am experiencing reality as I make art: I feel, I live, I experience; thus my Art is a depiction of reality; it is born in realness.
Yesterday's drawing was born out of my need to be "in your face," to be straightforward. I wished to depict space of little depth, keeping the artifice of a third-dimension to a minimum. I began with a question. This drawing is one answer. The other idea was one of robust contrast: more angular objects on the left are in contrast to more curvaceous ones on the right. (Of course, there is light versus dark too!)
One of my most remarkable self-discoveries is an emotive image does not require realistic light. There is no need for faithful reference because it is the power of the image and the power of the forms that strike the viewer as real. Reality, accurate to the world we walk in, is unnecessary. The reality of the image is all that is in front of the viewer and therefore it is accepted as reality. Nobody does this better than Anselm Kiefer. His near-abstract images glow with light. They are lightly colored, mostly grey and white, yet their realities are emotionally potent. I learn as I make.
The revelation of personal religious zeal is the heaven that is found within the momentary realization that the mark made is earthly correct. As I accept this premise my art becomes more me and more real. More real is surprising since its abstraction from the experiential data allows it to resemble the world I have experienced without mimicking that world. Here I am today showing you one more drawing on my road toward acceptance. This is what I do.
Today's drawing is self-real, yet also plays falsely within its own stated reality. Do you see the mark approximately one-third from the left and one-third from the top? It is simply a mark amongst a plethora of forms. The forms pretend to be three-diemsional, but the mark is just a mark, a splotch on the page. It is a required mark. Without it the back and forth force of this composition would be relentless, and questionable. It would lack grounding. This mark grounds it. It allows the forms to play with energy against the mark's static, solid touch to paper.
My wondering today is about the coherency of image and surface. Yesterday's drawing is filled with forms. Mostly the forms sit near the front of this image's artifice of space. This bothers me. I want more. I want the space to be fully coherent. Forms against a white background do not resolve their position relative to the rest of the paper's plane. The paper, as automatic creator of an artificial space, must clearly identify its spatial concept, or the viewer feels deprived of the full reality of the image. If an image does not confirm the space it inhabits then the forms sit alone against blankness, nothingness. It is like making a jig-saw puzzle and leaving some pieces out. Satisfaction is incomplete if information is missing! Below, I show you the way Joan Miró handled this lack of background in one of his better works. Joan Miró sometimes placed the forms up front, while he disturbingly left the background blank. In Miró best works he forces the viewer to perceive the background as part of the composition, part of the overall image, part of the image's space. I am aware of this necessity, but like Miró, I sometimes get so enraptured by my forms that I forget full identification of their position within the spatial coherency of the total image.
I would like to declare the painting 2017 No.12 complete, but never say never. In fact, 2017 No.11 remains on my painting wall; yesterday I looked at this previously "completed" painting. Now I believe 2017 No.11 needs an alteration, i.e., removal of a little murkiness in thought and deed. I will probably give 2017 No.11 a bit of a re-do tomorrow. For now, I believe this one, the one in front of you, is complete. (A note about reproduction: That top border band of blue/black of the painting reproduced here today is darker in the actual painting. When photographing this painting I tried to adjust the lights that were used to illuminate the painting. In my adjustments I could now remove some of the surface sheen. Thus, the top border, which is darker in value, is reflectively grayed in the reproduction you see before you.) Please note the playfulness of the frame created by the dark border: it changes in value, as well as in width, consequently it also changes in its artifice of depth. This is new in my work.
Yesterday's drawing continues my query into biomorphic abstraction.
Quizzical these are... I am asking for more than I know. You can see it in the drawing, in that unnatural swoop around the form on the right. Because I am in jungle territory I am going to tread carefully, watch carefully, act with mindfulness, watch for gorillas, hyenas, snakes, and exotic food. I am seeking true nourishment.
The surprise is mine. I am more interested in the artifice of three-dimensional depth than I am in simple gusto of paint. Actually I am interested in both. Right now, it seems, I am educating myself. I am learning that my primary objective is creating 3D space. Gusto in paint will come later, after I digest this 3D problem. That is my surprise. Yesterday I re-made the painting 2017 No.10 in an image that is myself.
The only way I am going to achieve extreme quality is by delivering an extreme number of renditions.
I cannot satisfy myself. There is no way I can be content with any one image. Everything I make calls another question. Better, yes; final, no. May I live a long life! This said, I do like the work I produced yesterday. I am finding new ways to animate the canvas and paper. 2017 No.9 is calling for artifice of space, artifice of light, artifice of shadow. It is in light and shadow that this painting most interests me. The object in the foreground is a form requiring low contrast because I perceive it in shadow. The background is fully lit, begging for more light in a high value light source.
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