I am revisiting the drawings of Willem de Kooning. My understanding of their sophisticated command of the rectangle in which they sit is greater than ever. Knowing is one thing, acting with one's knowledge is extremely difficult; making art is a task of extreme mindfulness. This is my trouble. This is my struggle. The three drawings I show you today were created as an act of mindfulness. They are the best I could do when I did them. This internal act becoming external image is the essence of art-making. I am making a great effort to watch the structure of my drawings become real in real time, i.e., real in terms of personal emotion and personal knowing. Watching the knowing become a real image is a transitory experience that is being there as each note is created for better and for worse. It is the act of reacting, putting right the slightly askew mark made before the one now appearing. Compositions grows as do conversations. Command over feelings becoming words is poetry in the making. Perfection of communication is the goal poetry, of the visual arts, and of music. Perfection of communication is never reached.
"Amidst a Falling World" is complete. There are multiple emotions involved in completion. It is death and life and learning and despair (over not knowing enough); it is an end and a beginning. It is informative, but sadly never as wonderful as I wish. Immediately upon completion my desire to begin anew is great. Everything fails a little, as well as succeeds a little. It is within the perception of failure that the next work begins.
Feeling a lot in the making of visual art means pushing the possibilities that marks and forms allow; this is done in order to approach the craziest of emotions while sticking to the time-honored definition of a rectangular plane's ability to be seen properly by viewers. Communication is engagement; engagement would not happen if the images created are far afield from the recognizable. A viewer must be somewhat comfortable in order to enter, then explore. It is in the exploration that art is made and art is seen.
Yesterday's drawing is one more effort to bridge the gap between all that is known and all that I know and feel. I am working hard to keep myself, and the images I make, centered. "Centered" is full acceptance of me in the world. All is possible if I limit myself to real possibilities, not to a wish list based upon fiction and fantasy.
I do not feel good about the drawings. Something is amiss. They do not fit me well; they feel like ill-fitting clothes; too tight here, too loose there. These are not images I wish to project when out and about. These drawings do not illustrate me!
What do I want? I want to simplify my simple self. I need to make clear my feelings and intellect. These drawing muddy the waters that are my living blood. I want to be deep arctic seawater on a clear blue-skied day: crystalline blue, full of life, cool, pleasant enough to be inviting, straight forward enough to be understandable in intellect and in emotion.
Yesterday felt right and good; I knocked around my images, as one does when searching a wall for a solid stud. These images, the ones I show today, are solid. They hold their own, They have strength and dignity. They demand perusal. They give satisfaction. That said, the painting,"Clever Liars", is incomplete. It requires sheer work, mindful work, to reach finality. It is almost there; it asks me, "When is enough good enough?" In others words, its essence is true; I cannot get much more truth by adding nuance, so why continue to develop it? Here is where a discussion of perfection is relevant. Simple it is: Intuitively I feel the need to make each one of those bright, cone-like objects, truly lit, truly three-dimensional in feel — their surfaces must feel touchable, like an egg in a Chardin still-life (see below).
The drawing is complex, indomitably readable, pure in its contrast of forms, forms left versus forms right. It this gaslighting? Does it make you question your sanity? My intension is to educate, not to admonish, "Ultimate sanity is comprehension, then acceptance; Contrast is part of our social order!"
There is great contrast in these two drawings. The first (07/02/2020) is thick, slow-in-coming, heavy with pencil marks. The second (07/03/2020) is light, agile; made quickly, easily. I will not judge the value of either. I am in the midst of unfaltering self-discovery. I will not give up. The first drawing clearly exhibits my modus operandi. I am obsessed; I need to make sense of it all. In the midst of mindful action I am unable to stop myself. This relentlessness is a result of belief in my ability to detect, discern, make visually real that which is in front of me, surrounds, imbues with feelings and charm. This possibility is the incentive for my relentless journey.
Pablo Picasso is known for his precise language, as well as precision in his art. I agree with much of what Pablo says. (Below, see Picasso's take on the inherent blindness of art-making and art-interpretation.) John Lennon wrote, "Happiness is a Warm Gun." I say, "Happiness is a Warm Pencil." Do I draw too much? Making marks is addictive, cathartic, warm, and clarifying. My drawing makes sense of my reality; others may find my art blind to the discomforts that are present in our political and social world. No matter; I probe my own depths. I am wide enough, deep enough, to be eternally in need of work; I am preoccupied with myself; I am working to understand. The reward? Me knowing more the more work I do. Subsequently, I feel enlightened, optimistic, and busy. There is much to do; I am solving my own mystery, which is the result of the mystery that is the world I live in.
Yesterday's drawings are robust, clear, and confusing. They are like real-life.
Pablo Picasso on Art-Making:
This drawing is a result of a marathon. Perhaps a marathon is a poor description of its journey; marathons take a little over two hours; this drawing took over 6 hours. My first question relates to its complexity: Is it too complex for the viewer to be immediately engaged? My second question: If the viewer is immediately engaged, will the viewer be entranced enough to hang in for this drawing's visual voyage?
The ultimate question regarding my art comes down to this: Are visual voyage marathons an effective means of communication? Or, do viewers prefer simple, direct, right to the point; i.e., give me a visual hit, give me a visual expression of emotion, give me a visual expression of intellect, but make it simple, go right to the point?
It can get very confusing. Knowledge is a strong, but power can distort possibilities. If power be fully followed, the consequences may not fall comfortably; the result may be incorrectly conceived. Failure occurs because power was allowed to precede knowledge; power has the ability to push aside a level-headed approach, thus diminishing the ability to secure a well measured result. Great art is balanced by perspicuity. With this I look at yesterday's work. I am insecure with it. The painting feels unfinished, not forceful enough; the drawing is a risk in value contrast and form contrast. Do they work well? Are they successful in engaging thought and feeling? I must think about this; both these works make me nervous. Or, is my nervousness merely a sign of the times I am living within?
Note on reproduction: Today's reproduction fails to accurately represent yesterday's actual drawing. The more a work of art relies upon subtlety to convey its ideas and emotions, the more the reproduction of it fails to impress.
The image I show today is simple and complex; it gives comfort in its clarity, it is exhilarating to observe its complications. But is it satisfying to me? It does not feel completely correct. There is something missing, something not-quite "me." It is organized well. It is simple, it is refined in organization, it calls for contemplative investigation; all that is all well and good. What, then, is missing?
Recently I have been looking at a lot of works by Francis Bacon, and I have also been studying many works of Ellsworth Kelly. Both stir my loins; I find both successful, effective, potent, and compelling. How, then, do I combine these two motives in order to make my art? This question highlights my current struggle to be free, to be me.
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