dI am fascinated by the appeal of front and center composition. Quick engagement of the viewer depends on straightforward engagement of the viewer. This is accomplished by using straight-on centered forms, easy and simple images, compositions built on one fully comprehensible shape. Picasso and Rothko mastered this, proved this, over and over again. Today I show my effort in this direction, made yesterday. Also I show a Picasso and a Rothko to illustrate my point.
These images are me reacting to newfound questions. I allow myself to act, react, making real. I simultaneously accept classical composition as mandate, and my receptiveness to questions. I accept The Classical Mandate, i.e., in-your-face engagement is the simplest, and purest, conduit to viewer attention. In yesterday's blog I showed three image by Philip Guston. Those images follow The Classical Mandate. Picasso accepted The Classical Mandate. I have, at last, accept The Classical Mandate. I accept the necessity of immediate, in-your-face, attention grabbing imagery. It is the necessity to engage the viewer; it is necessary in every composition.
After you look at my work, constructed with The Classical Mandate, look at one of Picasso's works (below👇). In his earliest work, and in his last, Picasso accepted The Classical Mandate. It took me a while, but I am here now. There is no denying The Classical Mandate is effective. Acceptance of tried and true is a comfort. It allows me to expand self-expression. It is the fluid means to self-engagement? The bonus is engagement with the viewer. After all, communication, between artist and viewer, is the ultimate goal.
I have fought and fought. I did not easily accept truth. I never simply believed in documented truth. I had to put it to a test. I made myself work, test after test! I made my viewers work. I failed. Now I know. Acceptance of truth is necessary. Truth is not always clear and easy to perceive. However, a visual statement much engage by directly engagement of the viewer. The artist must not screw around with in hope the viewer will want to enter his artwork. An artwork must grab the viewer. An artwork must have an "in-your-face" engagement. The drawing I show today is an "in-your-face" image. It engages the viewer, immediately. The viewer comprehends its declaration, easily. Is this the greatest drawing ever made? I will not say that. I will say it is a successful test of my doctrine: I accept tried and true reality, as illustrated by generations of great artists, including my mentor, Philip Guston.
Philip Guston never fought the truth that I accept today. In fact, his late figurative work always engage with in-your-face images, one after another. As examples, take a look at three late works by Philip Guston (below👇).
Going home is going back to one's roots. I am doing this. In fact, I am returning to the roots of classical art. I have tried, repeatedly, to defeat classicism. Picasso accepted classicism as truth. Picasso gave into the reality that classicism had determined the best way to engage the viewer. Classicism was centuries old before Picasso got here, even older before I got here. Classism had challenged many ways of presenting imagery. Picasso accepted that classicism had succeeded. The invention, and the success of Modern Art, is not about compositional challenge; that had already been done. No matter the degree of distance Picasso put between his images and naturalism, the force of his compositions always accepted classicism's compositional dictates. Every image Picasso presents is "in your face," "straight ahead," composed to engage by laterally depicting his images within the defined rectangle. No matter the wildness of Picasso's forms, his compositions do not disturb the viewer's natural way of digesting an image. The wildness of Picasso's image are attenuated by his acceptance of pure compositional classism. I am now doing the same. It took me longer to get to here, to this insight, then it did Picasso (or Van Gogh or Matisse or Philip Guston or Willem de Kooning, for that matter). Those five (Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Guston, de Kooning) are my heroes, my main mentors. Four of them were my mentors from a distance, but Philip Guston mentored me in person.
Take a look at today's drawing. I accept classical composition. Why, I ask, has it taken me so long? This acceptance frees me to invent via form, color, scale, shape, and space. It frees me because I accept the basic rules that are classical composition. No more will I fight the tenets of classical composition.
Below I show you two daring works of art. They do not challenge "Classical Composition." The do challenge how we see. Both of these paintings creating a reality that challenges our visual world through imagery, not through composition.
Drawing, as dense as this one, do not reproduce well. This one you gotta see to believe. My work continues to banter with, and insist upon, the frontal obvious; i.e., truth telling must be in the viewer's face. I have written about this before, but in this drawing I reiterate my acceptance of all things flat that are made on sheets paper and on shards of canvas.
If I am to solve this, I am required to give into instinct and intuition. Proper and correct causes confusion. Logic is an enemy; it relies upon experience. Logic is inherently biased. I will continue to use my knowledge of Art History, and the knowledge and skill I have work so hard and long to acquire. I will, however, temper my simple, intellectual knowing, with my deeper intuitive knowing.
The activity on yesterday's drawing and painting did move me forward. They solidly accept the reality of classical composition, while exhibiting my struggle to throw my worries and concerns in the face of the viewer.
My art is, indeed, unique. It must be questioned. Is this the best I can do? Does this represent me? Am I engaging the viewer in a conversation about the here and the now and who we are? Does this approach make sense? I am asking, "Am I wasting my time?" Is my work valuable to more than just me? Doing it feels like mediation; it profits me. I want more. I want my art to be relevant to everyone. Touching everyone, with emotion and intellect, is impossible. Many won't pay attention; many are just not interested. A lot of people are preoccupied with other things.
I am strongly committed to the journey I am on. Again, it feels like meditation. As I make art, my thoughts come in/go out, new ones arrive, old ones depart; time is irrelevant; being is relevant.
Yesterday's drawing achieves much of my recent ambitions. It is classically centered. It hits the viewer head-on. It plays well spatially. It plays with contrast of forms and contrast of value; this image is static, yet demandingly varied; thus it causes the viewer to come straight in, wander, linger, and think. Still, I question, "Is anyone paying attention?"
Practice can both consolidate and invent. I am trying to do both. This drawing achieves both. One thing I especially enjoy about this drawing is its formidable, large forms.
My process accepts the appearance of self-instigated demands. When demands occur, a solution must be dealt. You can see this in yesterday's drawing; this is the first use of this kind of top-half trapezoid in my work. It drives the view back in space while also forcing the viewer to accept the drawings central theme. It calls out my acceptance of head-on, centered, classical compositions.
The struggle to be free is all about the rectangle. I have to fill that rectangle with notice. I have to fill it with emotion and intellect. I have to fill it with truth and authenticity. I have to make sense within it, thus allowing the viewer to make sense with it or without it. The viewer is outside of it, looking in. My images must engage immediately with immediacy. My images are becoming this, a reality unto themselves derived from all I am and can be. I have found freedom by acceptance of the rectangle's requirement of full frontal truth. I am now able to perform on the highest level of intellect and emotion. This is what I got, so here I am showing it off!
The cliché about the elephant in the room is upon me. Direct, emotive, head-on, purposeful slam and damn, is necessary; it is no longer possible for me to ignore. I have tried to avoid this elephant, this inevitable realization; my art has suffered because of my ignorance.
Yesterday's work recognizes reality; I accept necessity. Yesterday's drawing, and the changes made to the painting, "Amidst a Falling World," are actualizations of necessity. Viewer engagement requires the image be immediately recognizable; this means it must be without pretension. It must sit squarely, recognizably, in front of the viewer.
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