Part III: Wall with Objects OR Wallpaper
Paintings and drawings are flat, two-dimensional surfaces. If an artifice of the third dimension is created there are two choices. In order to deal with the inherent two-dimensionality of canvas or paper an artist can... (1) create a box, or landscape, by using a ground defined by a horizon, or (2) hang forms from a flat wall (the wall being defined by obvious positioning of the forms on the wall). There is third way to deal with two-dimensional canvas or paper: Float flat objects in an amorphous space. This third option, flat on flat, is always unsatisfactory. It is decoration. It is merely wallpaper. It cannot be art! Decoration is nice and pleasant, it may fill a void on a wall, but it cannot speak deeply of the human spirit, complex as the human spirit is, with intellect and emotion.
Joan Miró tried doing both; he made paintings with the artifice of the third-dimension, and he made paintings that have flat objects on amorphous backgrounds. Miró's paintings with the third dimensional deceit mostly succeed, Miró's flat on flat paintings mostly fail (they are decorative and may fit well as decorations in a home, nothing more). Below, look at two paintings by Joan Miró. I admit, the second painting, which is flat on flat, exhibits Miró's effort to define the ground by using uneven areas of paint (in this way a viewer, at least, is cognizant the painting is on a flat surface).
Henri Matisse did both. He created flat on flat works (e.g., his late paper cuts), but most of his career was spent making drawings and paintings with an exuberant questioning of color and three-dimensional space. I will discuss Matisse's work tomorrow.
In yesterday's drawing I experimented with the lack of a horizon line; however there is an obvious horizon and an obvious ground.
I have many artistic ambitions. I worry I have too many objectives. I aspire to make art that functions well through many means: value, form, negative space, three-dimensional space, two-dimensional space, composition, and much more. I worry this may lead to confusion. A good work of art must show it itself through initial simplicity. A simple entry entices the viewer to become engaged, to pay attention, to look deeper, to see more. Complication is enriching only if the viewer hangs in there to absorb it. I think yesterday's drawing achieves this fullness; simplicity first, then satisfyingly complicated. This drawing is the last I will frame for my one-person Bromfield Gallery exhibition, opening June 5. Enjoy here! But please, see it in person at Bromfield Gallery. It is better than its reproduction.
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 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!
There are things about an advanced Van Gogh painting, or drawing, I really like. The representational quality is good, but it is the abstracted visual play which engages me most. While making yesterday's drawings I was occasionally reminded of Vincent Van Gogh's use of line and stroke. As Vincent marked his drawings, and his painting, he thought rhythmically, always cognizant of the overall music within forms and the surfaces of everything, from the three-dimensional quality of the forms themselves to the two-dimensional marks on the surface of the paper or canvas. These drawing's echo Vincent's quality of mark. They make me realize that I am very engaged by the abstraction in his best works. I am constantly involved in similar qualities, but I will not go so far as to say I emulate Vincent Van Gogh's mannerisms.
The question of the day: Am I multiple in personalities? OR Am I slowly honing-in, unraveling, clarifying, my one, true personality? I prefer the later as correct. If you go back, to day one of this blog (July 17, 2010), you will believe you see a different personality at work. No, it's me! The message I am learning, as I do this work, day after day, is I am a scrambled personality. It is not easy to perceive the nuances that make up the driving force that makes me who I am. I am stripping away the clouds, the fog that obscures my true passion in living. Yesterday I took a step, stripped away a bit, strongly realized that touch is more important to me than sight. How can this be? I am a visual artist, yet I enjoy touching more than seeing! Let me ask you. Which do you enjoy more? Seeing your lover, or touching you lover?
The two drawings seen here today allowed me to feel all around the imagined forms I created on two-dimensional pieces of paper. During the making of these drawings the imagination of touch was very strong, enjoyed. Acknowledging this feels like profound insight. Being as convoluted as I am, the idea of insight could be delusional.
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.
I know these reproductions look small on your screen ― don't forget to click on them for enlargement.
Yesterday's drawings appear to be about the artifice of space. I am questioning its possibilities. Unusual in the first drawing is the direction of light (usually I rake it from right to left, but in this one the light crosses diagonally, from lower left). The second drawing plays with line leading to forms, front to back. The lighting in the second drawing is neither important or interesting (it is the contrast in values and shapes that are interesting). The third drawing swoops the forms from front to back, rotating them in space as if on a diagonal arc.
So, yes, these drawings vary in their questions about structure. I am exploring the emotional and intellectual affects of invented forms in three-dimensional space. This 3D space is, of course, artificially depicted on two-dimensional pieces of paper.
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