Part IV: Flat on Flat versus 3D on Flat
I prefer to deal with the artifice of the third-dimension on a flat surface, on canvas or paper. This is obvious in my images; obvious in the two works I show from yesterday's studio session.
Henri Matisse constantly dealt with this problem. Many have said Matisse's art is mostly decorative. It is more than that. Matisse himself said this: "What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or disturbing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue." That sounds like decoration to me! Matisse also said this: "Expression, to my way of thinking, does not consist of the passion mirrored upon a human face or betrayed by a violent gesture. The whole arrangement of my picture is expressive. The place occupied by figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions – everything plays a part. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements at the painter’s disposal for the expression of his feelings."
I agree with the second quote from Matisse more than the first. Expression is my desire too. However, I do not believe this (from Matisse): "Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner...." It is far more difficult that that. Expression is far more than decoration. It can be tough and caustic, clean or messy. I continue to research this problem.
Let me show two works of Henri Matisse. One tough, filled with three-dimension references, the other absolutely decorative, absolutely flat on flat (see below). I have tried to prove my thesis, that the artifice of the third-dimension can produce superior, more expressive art. than flat on flat. These two works by Henri Matisse are undeniably terrific and expressive. Of the two, I prefer the former. They are both decorative, but they are both bold and expressive as well. Kudos to Henri Matisse! I will continue to research self-expression through the use of three-dimensional forms on a flat canvas. I intuitively feel this method will bring me far past the expressive limitations of flat on flat. I must say is, "I am not Henri Matisse!" I admire Matisse's art, but I admire myself more.
It will happen shortly. My art will be due at galleries for exhibition. This fact hit me hard last week. I negotiated final dates and works to be exhibited. Stay tuned for more information. I have three exhibits scheduled this year, and more possible. My first exhibit begins in Late April.
Exhibiting is confusing to me because it comes with good, bad, and ugly. Bothersome it is to my most important activity, my most fulfilling activity: The making of art itself.
The drawing shown here is from two days ago. It is a complex and excellent drawing. There is a push/pull of three-dimensional space, excellence in value contrasts, and a robust, active composition.
Never! Always! The edge of description is life as animated joy. Henri Matisse did it before anyone else. Matisse's Joy of Life is a grand display of compositional stress and color invention; it depicts the joy in creation. Joy of Life is reality itself. Joy of Life is based upon that which we see, i.e., the reality we know; the flat plane of the canvas is respected while three-dimensional-perspective is forced and enforced. Around and around we go, in and out we see. It is more than a test of compositional possibilities; it plays with simple contrast too, light to dark. Joy of Life is one of Henri Matisse's most important contributions to painting and the visual arts.
I set about yesterday's drawing with Joy of Life in mind. My drawing achieves a high level of compositional energy, and rigor; in two-dimensions and in three-dimensions. Also, it runs with wild circles around its solid, anchored center.
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