Thursday, September 29, 2011

At Once I Knew I Was Not Magnificent

This painting was begun at the same time as Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Here, I returned to an image I have worked with in the past. Like a book or shoe, the design of a chair is has basically remained the same for centuries. This is actually my dining room chair. It is very solid (and heavy). Like the shoe, I set a single image against a extremely worked background. The chair is a strong image so it does not necessarily recede into the background here, rather it fits nicely into its surroundings.

The title comes from the song Holocene by Bon Iver. I believe I heard Justin Vernon say in an interview that the song, especially that line, was about a very bad night in a bar.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

This painting grew out of my Guston readings. Like Guston, I wanted to paint an object that is part of my everyday world. I saw this as a celebration of a thing that is well crafted and built to last. The design for a basic shoe has not changed for a long, long time. I was also striving for immediacy in getting the image down, using a projected image to get the placement just right. A funny thing happened as I worked on the piece. It became less about the shoe, or I should say less a celebration of this functional object. As in life, the shoe is begins to get lost in its surroundings. The large color fields, consisting of dozens of layers of paint, quickly draw a viewer's interest away from the shoe. I believe this painting will be a pivotal one. The push-pull between the mundane and sublime has opened up avenues of explorations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

For Guston (Books)

Last Spring, I spent a few weeks with my right arm in a sling then about 6 weeks of physical therapy. During this period, I spent a lot of time reading, especially the writings and statements of Philip Guston and his friend Morton Feldman. It was fascinating to note that Guston's views never changed much, even when he made the "shocking" break from abstraction to figuration. I was drawn to his use of a limited amount of everyday objects and their placement on the canvas. Watching film of Guston at work also inspired me to be more direct in my painting, getting it down quickly. Guston was described as the best read high school drop out ever. I decided to paint a stack of books since this was an image Guston painted over and over again, plus it is a nice play on my last name. Well, the direct thing didn't work out though this was record time for me at around one month to produce. I had already begun work on a couple of other paintings but I realized that I was being drawn to the background as much as to the pile of books. This was more obvious in the next couple of paintings where there is only a single object depicted. I am intrigued by having this celebration of everyday battle and perhaps lose to the empty background. This is more pronounced in the work that follows.

The Richter Resolution

A while back, art critic Jerry Saltz published The Richter Resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of projection in the production of art, especially painting. Luckily for me the moratorium had expired when I purchased a little pocket sized projector. My newest paintings are the first time I have ever used projection. I've never been morally opposed to its use. I enjoy good art regardless of how it is produced. I just don't think my previous work would have benefited from projection. In these new works, I'm not trying to achieve type of photo-realistic verisimilitude. The placement of the object on the canvas was critical to these pieces and projection allowed me to play with size and placement until I felt it was right. Much of the drawing was ignored as the paintings progressed. Here I show the projection, the drawn object and the finished piece Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. I would keep losing some of the details of the shoes as I would layer paint so I was constantly correcting the drawing. While I spent time and energy on the image, the painting is not about the shoe.