As elegant as yesterday's drawing is, I feel it is missing an element I seek. More clearly: It is missing the center of the element I seek. This drawing lacks a nucleus! Perhaps I do recognize there is a nucleus within its negative space. Is that enough? I don't believe it is. I require a positive nucleus to feel my work has become appropriately and properly me. As example, I show you a work by my mentor, Philip Guston. In his most abstract period, Guston (unlike his buddy, Jackson Pollock), understood the need for a painting to have a focal point. All-Over is not conducive to viewer involvement. All-Over is a cop out; it denotes a loss of interest in topic (as abstract as that topic may be). The painting I show you below, by Philip Guston, has a title relevant to today's discussion as well: "Zone", The title is unnecessary because its relevance is in its obvious visual nucleus.
There is a certain moment in the Oeuvre of every artist I admire, a moment of transition, out of messy questioning and into disciplined clarity. This is my moment!
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!"
I am at a point of departure. I am stepping, not particularly caring where I go, but resolutely. This is not a time for self-judgement. It is time to allow images to be born out of intuition, deep knowing intermingled with angst. All bets are off; all absolutes are off, dependency upon past masters is off. I am just doing it.
I show today images like nothing I have done before; nothing I have seen before. Have you seen anything like these? These works are allowed to exist because they do not crush past knowledge, they enhance it. They are informed by the past, but they step out from it, not from underneath it.
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.
These works are not the endgame. These show insight, knowledge, acceptance, influence, and communication skills. I am on a road; I am recovering from delusion. I once believed I lived alone with artful insight. This is not a lonely man's game. I am communicating with you. The past (Art History), and the present (the real-life viewer, who lives here and now), are my true measuring sticks. I am better for accepting the truth; there is a requirement to proper social intercourse, which must be accepted in order to be seen, to be understood, to be believed.
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.
Yesterday I received a used copy of the 1996 Ellsworth Kelly Retrospective Exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Slid between the front cover and the title page was a Guggenheim Museum flyer for the opening month of the exhibit. In the flyer was a reference to Pablo Picasso, showing one of his drawings that influenced Ellsworth Kelly. That drawing inspired the drawing I show you today (made yesterday).
My investigation has reached a new intensity. I am running from review of the last to renewal in the next. This is revisionism at its best. My art is becoming fluid research; each work flows from the previous, each is a reaction to success and failures of the past. Yesterday's drawing is one of my best; it exudes comprehension of my most instinctual requirements for proper visual communication of emotion and intellect.
I have entered the realm of research as described by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso; these three artists investigated through repeated visits to the same motif. I have always been drawn to the work of these artists; now I understand that it is not just their art that intrigues me, it is their methodology as well.
Searching for success is a long and arduous path. Each drawing, and painting, I make, are one step. Every step has some success, some failure. Seriously, this rooting out my true means of expression is uneasy; it so slow to reward. Yet, I feel rewarded with each step. This drawing, the one I show today, rewards me with a depth of feeling that indicates success; my path toward true expression is real. While writing of this journey I want to inform you of a project of mine: I have a Catalogue Raisonné forming on my website MEHRBACH.com; it is intended to become an all inclusive record of my art. This effort is informing me of my basic instincts; at the beginning of my artistic endeavors my instinct were clear and bright. See them here: Mehrbach Catalogue Raisonné. Below, as example, you can see my first painting, and its inspiration, a painting by the English Impressionist, Alfred Sisley.
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At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.