When I was invited to show my work at ASK, I had been sitting in the gallery where I’ll be showing. After the invitation, I regarded the room. It has several beautiful walls. The window wall won’t be so good for hanging paintings, but the other three are superb, although one is now… bifurcated – by a support pole.
Back in the studio, I considered my stock of stretchers and canvases, and in remembering these walls, felt that my canvases were just a bit small. What if I bolted them together as panels?
I haven’t typically worked in terms of “projects”. In the past, I just painted, and if I had the good fortune to be invited to show, I would just reach into the painting racks, and take out the latest work. The past ten years haven’t been a good time for me as regards to studio time, but after hearing Gregory Amenoff talk about his own propensity towards “projects”, I thought, “why not”. And thus this project was born.
The four paintings in this show were all made from pairs of canvases bolted together. The paintings were made as unified pieces, but the underlying supports are bifurcated.
The theme of this show and the juried show is “abstraction”. I have my share of hang-ups about that term. After all, aren’t these paintings “real”. Aren’t those paintings of people, vases of flowers, and landscapes, all very, very abstract?
Samuel Johnson meant the word as a sort of summarizing , “a smaller quantity containing the virtue or power of a greater”. Fair enough. You have to admit; there really is a difference between an abstraction, and a realist painting… you can see it quite clearly. Where’s the picturing? I would argue that its all there… just that those artists who practice “abstraction” hide their pictures – take more liberties with how the scene changes. Or they are focussed on relationships between things. Its can be like in a dream where one moment you’re driving your car, and the next moment you’re back in your first grade cafeteria without clothes on. Reality shifts. Perhaps there is an element of obsfucation – if we came out and showed you what we were really thinking you’d all be apalled and have us put away. Or perhaps there is a play of associations, like those found in really great poetry – and those associations drift in and out. Or perhaps I really do like the way that blue brushstroke sits next to that purple brushstroke, and my, aren’t they great friends?
At the end of the day, I still feel that too much is made of the distinctions. All of us painters make paintings – and whatever the approach, paintings are objects that often require being lived with – or seen many times – before they reveal themselves fully. Each painting is created from quantities of colored matter, usually tranferred to the painting with a stick with some hair on it – and that usually being held by a human appendage (I’m leaving out all the painters who throw, spray, hold brushes in their mouths, and elephant painters). And that aspect of markmaking generated by a human body is near universal to all paintings. Each painting speaks to that bodily experience.