Adolph Gottlieb's works have always fascinated me. I know why. I am struggling fro self-expressive potency; my images never fully satisfy me. Gottlieb's works use a simple formula, over and over. Gottlieb uses a round, cleanly organized shape in contrast to an explosive, jumbled shape; in addition, his images exude positive-shape intensity against supportive, residual negative space. The positive shapes are rich, the negative space lends them fierce interest. This contrast, of shapes and space, sings a potent, emotional message. I do not make flat shapes. My complex, three-dimensional forms have greater opportunity to sing emotions than do Gottlieb's simple, flat shapes. I will stay my course. Gottlieb's simple formula educates; his formula lends charge to visual imagery; his exude husky, emotional responses. In this regard, I believe I can go further than Gottlieb. Adolf Gottlieb's limited formula has instructed me; simple contrast has great possibilities; obtaining more accurate self-expression is possible!
Preparing just one painting for exhibition takes an enormous amount of time; this distracts from my preferred endeavors. Of course I should promote my work! Yesterday I had time to finish a drawing; so nice! I completed a drawing begun on August 16. Today, however, I must begin to prepare the PechaKucha requested by Silvermine Galley for their 70th Annual A-ONE Exhibition, opening September 5. "Pecha Kucha" is Japanese for "chit chat". I am tasked with making a 20 slide presentation of my life and work, also with a look into my studio workspace. A PechaKucha runs quickly: 20 images, each with a 20 second VoiceOver. I will post a link here when the PechaKucha is complete.
The drawing I show today is research into my interest in movement. I wish to engage the viewer in multiple ways, but here I concentrate on relentless compositional dynamism. This internal image energy is being added to my fascinations with form, light, and three-dimensional space.
Perception of space is perception of contrast. In these drawings I push value contrast as well as size and shape contrast. The other play in contrast is strict, geometric shapes (created with straight lines), versus organic abstracted forms (created with curves, oval, and rounds). These drawings are insightful. See also these types of contrast in the works of Francis Bacon and Ellsworth Kelly.
It is very difficult for me to pare down my visual ideas. I am working hard to become absolutely direct; so completely personal as to be impossible to misunderstand. Yesterday I was more successful in my painting, than in the drawings. In the drawings, you can see my effort to pare to importance, but they are not as convincingly reduced as the painting. Still, the painting has room to pare. Mostly that heart-like object annoys me (in the lower left); it has to go. What the hell is that, anyway? Of course you could say "what the hell are they?" about any of my forms. I am reaching for profoundity in form making; I am looking for universal, yet abstract, substantial forms; forms that are intuitively understood, if not immediately recognized as representational.
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?"
Great art is achieved more from continuity of effort than from talent. I have experienced many talented artists, but only a few achieve great art. Achievement of greatness happens because the route to success is long in thought, long in trial and error, long in failure, sporadic with the exhilaration of success. The drawing shown today is too complex for me. Better were the drawings that were shown in yesterday's blog post. There is high exhibition of talent in the drawing I show today, but it does not stimulate viewer engagement; it requires too much from the viewer, just as it required too much for me to make it real. It does exhibit great talent in drawing; space, form, light, compositional integrity, they are all present. This drawing fails because it lacks immediacy of purpose, which means it lacks immediacy of viewer involvement. I will require a lot of time, energy, and great effort to make real the great art I envision. I am committed to the long run.
I am obviously moving toward more simple images, albeit complex in actuality. I question the ability of a fully complex image to fully engage the viewer. Today I show one answer to this question. However, the caveat is this, as with Mark Rothko, and Ellsworth Kelly, I believe initial simplicity has the ability to be extremely complex. Yesterday I showed you an excellent Mark Rothko painting; it contains just two floating rectangles; Simple? Not at all! Today I show you a painting by Ellsworth Kelly, black with a floating, flat white form; Simple? Not at all! I could live with either the Rothko or the Kelly painting for a very long time; both would endlessly speak volumes to me.
When does simplification become too much? Am I simplifying? Clarity is an act of decisiveness; Simplification is an act of divorce. That which appears simpler is often more complex. Complexity is a measure of profundity. Simplification is a measure of ease. This painting, "Your Decisions Matter", is complex; it is profound, albeit simpler in color scheme and its number and kinds of forms. Mark Rothko understood profundity; he made, to the unobservant eye, seemingly simple paintings. I leave you with a great painting by Mark Rothko.
Yesterday's drawing combines many of my interests, from round to flat to three-dimensional artifice to compositional carry-through to light and energy to contrast in value and form. The 3D deception is robust. Formally, this is a success, but is it an emotional success? I worry it feels more an intellectual achievement than a grand display of all things me, i.e., emotions and intellect. Not to worry; this is merely a step along to way to all-inclusiveness.
I am working hard to feel myself through my drawings, one contemplative mark by one contemplative mark. This is a grandiose effort. It requires mindfulness beyond anything I have experienced before. The forms themselves, made by marks of a pencil, are just a portion of the self-empathic problem I am making an effort to solve; the space between each mark, and the space between each form, carries enormous empathetic weight. To fully engage the meaningfulness of this journey is daunting. These drawings are the beginning of very special art; I am beginning to make art as communication of nuanced, momentary feelings, to myself, and to those who view my art. My art is becoming a true record of my living, feeling, thinking, learning, and making.
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