"You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows..." (Bob Dylan). I am following the wind. This is one more weathervane in my arsenal.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
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.
I am working hard to become enlightened, wholly myself. I look outside of me, I see much the same. Outside my studio there is continuing turmoil in my society; it too is working hard to become enlightened, more equitable, more caring, whole in its empathy. This is not true for everyone in our society; thus the battle continues. Overt people, knowing authentic human empathy is on their side, are marching in great numbers, calling for change, calling for us to be better; they are making great efforts to enlighten those who have strayed away from the rationality of treating one another with respect. Unfortunately we have a President who does not get it. I am optimistic. I believe we will move past this tumultuous era. Our society is based upon sound, empathetic, rational ideas. Please read again our nation's "Bill of Rights." As reminder I give you a reproduction of Faith Ringgold's painting, "Freedom of Speech."
My drawing, the one I show today, is enlightened as well. Through self-challenge and hard work I too am becoming less ignorant, better informed, civilized, illuminated; yes, enlightened.
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).
Yesterday's drawing is worth its try. I am looking to excite the entire two-dimensional surface. I'm looking to engage emotions upon first site. The insistence of two-dimensionality, which is true for all wall-hung objects, is undeniable. I have tried to deny that, but the hour is getting later; I want to express now, not later. So, here they come. One after another; I am going to hurl images at the viewer, all in acceptance of my human-ness, reality, and my angst. I want to be here to stay, but I know that cannot be true. Full acceptance is pictorial two-dimensional acceptance; 2D limitations embrace both space and time. I live in a 3D human world where 2D images hang on our walls. Okay, I accept it! Now, here come the real.
I am fully aware that the greatness of Pablo Picasso began in his youth. Early on in his artistic life, Pablo accepted the limitations of space and time; his acceptance occurred far earlier in his life than my acceptance of the same. From my earliest days I rebelled against limitations. Pablo accepted the reality of limitations, then he worked within those limitations to create amazingly disparate images. I show you one (below), because it is related to the drawing I created yesterday.
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.
Over and over I have been asked to identify the artist who has influenced me most. I react different to two kind of Artist Influencers. There are artists whose splendid paintings I admire; Picasso comes to mind. There are artists who make splendid paintings, but I also admire their process, their methodology. This second category is more important to me, I have often referred to Matisse as a major influencer; of course the many discussions I had with my primary teacher and mentor, Philip Guston, will always influence my quest for truly satisfying process-methodology. Until yesterday! I have often looked at, often admired, the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a little book entitled, Basquiat-isms. This book is filled with splendid snippets of ideas, direct quotes from Basquiat. Here are three from that book; these make total sense to me:
"I am trying to communicate an idea; I was trying to paint a very urban landscape. I was trying to make paintings different from the paintings that I saw a lot of at the time, which were mostly minimal, and they were highbrow and alienating, and I wanted to make very direct paintings that most people would feel the emotion behind when they saw them."
"I feel if I work randomly, I come up with a more interesting narrative."
Asked, "Do you think you are lucky?" Basquiat responded, "Talented, too."
I began yesterday's drawing with as much randomness as I could muster. My intense self-educated skill took over; I worked as thoughtlessly as I could muster. Look what happened!
To read my profile go to MEHRBACH.com.
At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.