Part IV: Flat on Flat versus 3D on Flat
I prefer to deal with the artifice of the third-dimension on a flat surface, on canvas or paper. This is obvious in my images; obvious in the two works I show from yesterday's studio session.
Henri Matisse constantly dealt with this problem. Many have said Matisse's art is mostly decorative. It is more than that. Matisse himself said this: "What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or disturbing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue." That sounds like decoration to me! Matisse also said this: "Expression, to my way of thinking, does not consist of the passion mirrored upon a human face or betrayed by a violent gesture. The whole arrangement of my picture is expressive. The place occupied by figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions – everything plays a part. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements at the painter’s disposal for the expression of his feelings."
I agree with the second quote from Matisse more than the first. Expression is my desire too. However, I do not believe this (from Matisse): "Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner...." It is far more difficult that that. Expression is far more than decoration. It can be tough and caustic, clean or messy. I continue to research this problem.
Let me show two works of Henri Matisse. One tough, filled with three-dimension references, the other absolutely decorative, absolutely flat on flat (see below). I have tried to prove my thesis, that the artifice of the third-dimension can produce superior, more expressive art. than flat on flat. These two works by Henri Matisse are undeniably terrific and expressive. Of the two, I prefer the former. They are both decorative, but they are both bold and expressive as well. Kudos to Henri Matisse! I will continue to research self-expression through the use of three-dimensional forms on a flat canvas. I intuitively feel this method will bring me far past the expressive limitations of flat on flat. I must say is, "I am not Henri Matisse!" I admire Matisse's art, but I admire myself more.
It took me two days to make this drawing because I did not have the time to do it in one sitting. This time management is caused by the necessity that I frame works for my upcoming exhibition at AVA Gallery. If you follow the link to AVA you would see the announcement on AVA's homepage.
Going away from a partially finished drawing, then returning to finish it, is both beneficial and detrimental. Beneficial because it forces introspection upon return to the half finished drawing (I see it afresh; I see it more clearly; I immediately recognize its successes and failures). The detrimental part is me losing track of the original question I asked. In this case, in the drawing I show today, I wanted to inspect the possibilities of vigor in an insistently classically flat composition, one designed to be seen flat in the viewer's face. I often think of the great success Pablo Picasso had using this method in his painting Guernica, which has a central flat, in the viewer's face, triangle, surrounded by two side panels.
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