Being human makes it impossible to dismiss visual imagery. It is impossible to make an image devoid of reality. We are reality. Everything we make is real, Everything represents reality. We know nothing but real. Yesterday's drawings can be read as abstract. Yesterday's drawings can be read as representative. Yesterday's drawings can be read as non-representative.
"Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting." -Simonides c556-448 BC: Plutarch Moralia
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.
Perhaps I object to the possibility of the non-objective. Perhaps is the question. When you look at today's drawing, do you think of real-world objects, or is it truly non-objective? Even Willem de Kooning named many of his paintings as reference to landscapes; yet I think of de Kooning as the supreme non-objective painter.
I am feeling much better about the painting 2017 No.12. So much so that I am just about to declare it finished and move on. This is difficult to do without allowing at least one day for intuitive differences of opinion. I think this is today.
I have been struggling recently with the creep of figuration. It is returning to my work. I struggle because I get conflicted because of my desire to animate compositions based upon the purity inherent in non-representational composition. The force of the principles of art carry a painting when no representation is present. When representation is present a secondary layer of viewer engagement occurs. Purity of form, color, composition, linear movement, and the artifice of light, begin to compete with an involvement that is reference to the real world of figures and representational forms. Yesterday I heard a short interview with Morton Feldman. Feldman was an American composer (1926-1987). He continues to be a major figure in contemporary classical music. Feldman was a pioneer of indeterminate music, a development associated with the experimental New York School of composers, which included John Cage, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown. Feldman's works are characterized by notational innovations that he developed to create his characteristic sound: rhythms that seem to be free and floating; pitch shadings that seem softly unfocused; a generally quiet and slowly evolving music; recurring asymmetric patterns. His later works, after 1977, also begin to explore extremes of duration. Feldman's music is incredibly fascinating to me. This goes to my self-query in regard to purity in composition. Ultimately, I follow my intuition. I am not going to intellectually rule out figurative and representational if its creep into my art continues. Morton Feldman said he could not help himself, even though critics found his work difficult to comprehend. Mostly, critics found listening to Feldman's music an intellectual chore.
I wish I knew! Yesterday's drawing, and the painting 2017 No.12, are proceeding with some kind of abstracted, visual references. Why is this surprising? Because, just as I thought I had become a non-representational painter I become an abstract/representational painter. I cannot help but see figures in both images produced yesterday. I have no choice but to proceed!
Who's there? Not who you think! These are abstract images, yes, but they are also non-representational. The visualization is emotionally referenced, but not unkind or aggressive, just exploratory. That said, the spatial play, insisted upon in these drawings, is robust. One can follow the floor via shadows and marks. The outgrowth of forms above the plane is scary. The unease within these drawings is, to me, like hovering over a chasm while walking on a rope bridge. I am surprised by my personal discomfort. Is this a good thing? I don't know. When a viewer engages with Picasso's Guernica, or one of the more emotive self-portraits by Van Gogh or Rembrandt, is feeling safe important? Revelatory they are. Representational works are more direct than the drawings I show you today. Representation in Guernica, or in a self-portrait, is obvious. Do not take the images represented in my drawings as obvious!
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