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.
The only way I am going to achieve extreme quality is by delivering an extreme number of renditions.
I cannot satisfy myself. There is no way I can be content with any one image. Everything I make calls another question. Better, yes; final, no. May I live a long life! This said, I do like the work I produced yesterday. I am finding new ways to animate the canvas and paper. 2017 No.9 is calling for artifice of space, artifice of light, artifice of shadow. It is in light and shadow that this painting most interests me. The object in the foreground is a form requiring low contrast because I perceive it in shadow. The background is fully lit, begging for more light in a high value light source.
Art-making does not come easy, or does it? My studio activity goes well. But I live a life of worry. Am I making sense? Within certain moments of time I feel great anxiety. Like right now. Does anything I make have importance? The search for significance is simply a search, a process. It is the process that makes life worth living, as says Socrates: "An unexamined life is not worth living." For the first time I understand this. Socrates is speaking of life as process because life without process is devoid of meaning, like a blade of grass, which doesn't care if it lives or not. It simply is. I want more than the simplest of lives. This is being human. I do not want life to be the same as foraging for food because I am hungry. Yes, I am hungry... for meaning. My making art is me foraging for self-meaning, for images that ring true, that communicate with myself and with all who view it. Thus came yesterday. It seems to me that a form that represents me, it having a place within the image I am creating, can substantiate an image. A form, substantiated by its presence, is a force compelling me to deal with the artifice of three-dimensional space as if it reflects my place in existence.
The wounds due to being human keep happening. They do not stop happening. To be human is to be at the mercy of entropy: Impossible to win. This is the Third Law of Thermodynamics. It conquers everything. Art is my refuge. No matter the cause of worldly uncertainty, I keep making art. Art-making is the consistency within the inconsistency of my living and my social behavior. Without art-making I would be sludge. Yesterday's drawings continue my efforts to see forms more clearly. Perhaps they are too sculptural for painting and drawing. This is a major concern with images on two dimensional surfaces. One must not go too far toward the artifice of the third-dimension or the reality of the two-dimensional surface is uncomfortably disrupted. This is me questioning. My current work is pervaded by research. The specular spot is useful in portraying the third-dimension, as seen in yesterday's drawings. INSIGHT: My art is about disruption. I wish to disrupt the ongoing decay of being human. I fight the dictum, The Third Law, that entropy in me is increasing. My little effort is me disrupting the two-dimensional surface with the artifice of the third-dimension. I am fighting for solidity in a liquid state.
Yesterday's drawing is centered by a black ovoid with a specular spot. My specular spotting goes back to my earliest three-dimensional abstractions. A friend of mine noted the painting "2017 No.3" has specular highlights, he thinking this unusual for my recent work. Not sure about that, but his comment did give me pause. I love specular highlights. I don't use them enough. I enjoy what a specular highlight can do for the third dimension of a form. As you know, the artifice of three-dimensions on two-dimensional surfaces is very important to me. Yesterday's drawing is a reaction to my friend's comment about the specular highlights in "2017 No.3," thank you very much! Definitely more specular highlights are coming!
The process is becoming more, and more, "call and response." My ability to hear the call, my ability to distinguish the nuances in the language, my acuity, has increased. "To hear" is not an accurate description. The difference is actually one of visual acuity, which is better described as intellectual acuity. If you go back, look at "State 5" of this painting, "2016 No.16", you can see my responses to the calls. For instance, the color at the top of the painting. That which was orange is now covered with a mix of yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, and white (some of the old cadmium orange is allowed to show through the newer paint). My responding is nothing new, but my confusion, in regards to how I should answer, has diminished. I know better where to go.
Yesterday's drawings are dramatically fresh in their play of flat versus round. The relatively flat "bone-like" form in No.1 is filled with rounded protrusions. Fascinating to me is how this play gets carried into drawing No.2, which is spatially different (it is more forceful in the third-dimension). Learning is not as conscious as I once believed. I am following thoughts, but more like a dog follows a scent than a statistician follows data.
Too high a level of biomorphism bothers me. I believe strong biomorphism forces the viewer to think of animals and insects and extraterrestrial aliens (as depicted in films), rather than clear-sightedly being involved with composition, color, and forms. I want the viewer to visually dive into my art, be consumed by its reality. I don't want the viewer to think about external references. I want them to be here, now. Is this possible? Not completely. We all live in a world of forms and color. Our references are demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. Those who find spiders an emotional conundrum probably see a spider in "2016 No.14" (although it only has four appendages). I see a form stretching itself, forcing the space into three-dimensions. I am hoping this causes spatial tintinnabulation, making the absence of form ring, as if the air itself is alive. This is me trying to enliven the third-dimension of negative space on a two-dimensional plane.
I discovered a new verb today: Chillax! It means "Chill & Relax". I believe yesterday's work denotes behavior similar to the meaning of this compound verb: I am chill-fully relaxing into the basic driving forces of my emotive visual world. There is within me a desire to be figuratively referential, but not too much. I also crave the visual power of three-dimensional space. Together, the reference to a figure, and the reference to three-dimensions, is visually, persuasively, forceful. Some of you may look at yesterday's work and think of the British painter Francis Bacon. I do, and I don't. This is my work. Bacon's is relentlessly figurative, mine is not. Obviously, I, like Bacon, require a means to define abstracted three-dimensions. My images occur within a defined three-dimensional space, contrary to the flat, two-dimensional canvas.
These reproductions were taken by a Nikon COOLPIX L810 16.1MP Digital Camera, just a simple "point & shoot" camera, not a DSLR. I am surprised. The quality of these reproductions is very good. The death of my old Nikon D80 DSLR (vintage 2006) is a good thing. I will be purchasing a new Nikon DSLR, but the quality of the reproductions you see here is adequate. Adequate enough for me to post a second reproduction of the current state of the painting "2016 No.6". Usually I use a polarization filter to reduce glare from lighting, but this camera does not allow a filter. Still, very good with minimal glare. This proves you learn from a mishap. This proves technology moves rapidly forward, and I need to stay up with it.
Today you can see me ascending a learning curve in more ways than simple reproduction. Although I do think the current state of "2016 No.6" is better than the last, viewing it makes me miss my fondness for deep space. Thus the drawings I made two days ago, posted here today. I believe I have a major problem to work through (which is a constant). Today's major problem is me, integrating light, color, energy of surface and touch, with my fondness for deep space: Not easy for me. At one point in Willem de Kooning's career, and also, earlier in my career, our paintings went Black & White, sans color. This may have to happen again. At the end of today's post are reproductions of Black & White oil paintings, de Kooning's from 1948 and mine from 1984. Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) was not well known in 1948 (his colorful "Woman" paintings began later that year. Willem de Kooning's "Woman" paintings marked the beginning of his artistic maturity).
Picasso was compositionally redundant. His use of head-on horizontal space as necessity is deadly repetitive. You never see Picasso stretch space into and out-of the picture plane ― with him it is always across. Think of "Guernica", or even his most robust three-dimensional figures from his Classical Period ("Mother with Child on the Seashore") ― Picasso always composed left-right, across the horizontal surface. With this in mind, I show the horizontally composed drawing I made yesterday. Sometimes I just gotta play with large forms and forget my interest in moving the eye into and out-of the picture plane!
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