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.
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!
A friend of mind, Dick Schellens, pointed me to the work of Avery K. Singer. I am not showing her work to you, but I do encourage you to do a web search. Look at her work. It is extremely complex, black & white, is composed three-dimensionally, and is representative (i.e. references real world forms). I have worried that my work sometimes gets too complex, thus leaving the viewer confused. Avery Singer pushes this complexity, hard. She does not use color. That helps. Back to me...
Yesterday I made one simple drawing, then one complex drawing. I like the second one, the complex one, better. It feeds my soul more fully. The complexity asks me to dive in, to wonder.
The painting "2016 No. 15" is near satisfaction.
Drawings from 9/5/2015, both pencil on paper, 20X16 inches
Are you ready for this? Am I ready for this? I am beginning to accept that I am more interested in light and form as didactic elements than that which they representationally mimic. I have always thought the work of Richard Diebenkorn is important to me. Diebenkorn, like other artists I admire (Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, J.M.W. Turner) went back and forth between representation and abstraction. Like the others whom I admire, Diebenkorn found a means to emotionally express without the necessity to mimic the visual world we live in. I think (!?) this is my direction as well. It makes more sense to me, at this moment in time, than me pursuing the emotive in human figuration.
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