Aristotle wrote, "Style to be good must be clear.... Clearness is secured by using the words that are current and ordinary." In Song of Myself, Walt Whitman states, "He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher." And here I am. I have learned from my teacher (Philip Guston). I have now removed all his idiosyncratic ideas from my works. I did not destroy him, as Whitman suggests I do, but I have moved away from him, I have created my own style.
Clearness is an issue with me. I am working toward strong personal engagement with my viewers. Aristotle's idea is important to me, i.e., use of ordinary language is necessary to clarity. For me, the visual artist, ordinary language is visual art's most basic principles and elements. The most basic language of art is non-representative; it is color, form, composition, surface, value, et cetera. Basic visual art language also contains imagery because it has form and it contains the artifice of light. The viewer may call this "Representative Imagery," but I do not want to dilute meaning in art by representing something perceived in the real world. I have destroyed one idea of Philip Guston's. Guston's late work, it allegiance to simple, Representative Imagery, is the distraction I have destroyed. It must be destroyed because it hinders perception of the actual expressive quality that resides in the basic language of visual art.
Yesterday's drawing exhibits an exploration of surface, surface as a flow of light and space. As I made this drawing I thought of Mark Rothko's work. Rothko's clarity was his reduction; his painting are reduced to expressive play on surface and light.
...row, row, row... refers to my having very little to say in recent blog posts. The images are coming, but not the words. I would like to think my images are supplanting words. That the images speak for themselves. That I have no great passion to verbally explain my thought process because the visual work is explaining itself.
Daily readers know I have been struggling with an accurate reproduction of Asparagus. Today's image is closer than usual, albeit imperfect. The bug (fly?) did move since my previous post.
Yesterday's drawing was sustained and methodical. Every once in while I return to feeling my way through ALL the surface of a created form. Yesterday's drawing had that kind of contemplative process. I was swept away from recognizable thought, which felt good during the process.
One other superficial idea came to me. I am beginning to title my paintings — this makes for quicker identification, and allows conversation without confusion, which is inherent when titles are numeric and date driven. However, I do not wish the interpretations of my paintings to be driven by titles. I named my most recently completed painting with a four work title. Now I believe it is distractingly verbose. One word titles are better for my intentions, i.e. let the viewer construe the interpretation. This said, I have reduced my most recently completed painting's title to Heresy. This shortened title appears below the painting's reproduction on my website, MEHRBACH.com, but not in this blog. This blog, after all, is a diary of my thought process. I will not go back in this blog's post to change its title. I think one of best titles of all time is Guernica, Picasso's great anti-war painting. Being one word, it can be referred to easily; the title, Guernica, immediately brings with it the mental image of the painting with little encumbrance of verbal distraction.
“It all began with a shoe on the wall. A shoe on the wall shouldn't be there at all.”
Yesterday I promised you a drawing influenced by the Dr. Seuss quote, "A shoe on the wall should't be there at all." Here it is! However it is obviously further away from Dr. Seuss than the drawing I posted yesterday. Another obvious thought: I am not Dr. Seuss and never will be. As charming and intriguing as Dr. Seuss is, my way of expression may be influenced by his, but in no way does it see the world as gloriously buoyant and full of positive outcomes as Dr. Seuss. That said, the drawing posted today does not feel ominous. This drawing depicts a strange world, and therefore it has the charm of NOT being the world we physically inhabit. I like this, and I would like to think Dr. Seuss would have liked this drawing too (he just could never have drawn it). And as explanation, I think that shoe has been glued on the wall, which makes no sense at all!
Sometimes I feel like a little kid whose performing for the whole world. Naïve I may be, and naïve my work may appear. I am not the first person to do this: I think of Pablo Picasso's early work (prior to 1907 Picasso's work appears young and naïve). Picasso's early work was solid and emotive, but nothing new or revolutionary. Through the year 1906 Picasso practiced his craft, but it was in 1907 that it suddenly transitioned, became original, and authentically Picasso. There is a parallel here, between Picasso and me. As example, I show a couple of Picasso's works, the first Mendigos Junto Al Mar, 1903, the second Friendship, 1908. Just five years separate these works, and wow, what a dramatic change it is! I am in the midst of a similarly dramatic transition. I am three years into my five years of change.
Perfect reproduction of a drawing is not achievable (duh!). Both reproductions do not do their originals full justice, but surprisingly the one above (03·15·2013), the more sophisticated of the two, comes off closer to its original. More importantly, these drawings exhibit an openness to self-discovery and the natural impulse that drives my art-making. The language found in these drawings is an indication to me that I have a real possibility of finding my true voice. Wow, the wonder of it all!
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