Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Contemplation of Things Past

That was quite a long silence indeed, wasn't it. The good news is that I have shaken off my year-long inability to face the monumental task of upgrading my website; the bad news is that I'm not posting any pictures of new work until it's done. Instead I am going to bore you with pictures of old work, work that only a mother could love.

Oftentimes I find that I can't decide what I truly think of a painting until I've lived with it for awhile. Some of the ones I'm thrilled with at first, don't hold up over the long haul; some that Other People seem to love, I can't stand to look at. Those are all out in the hallway with their faces toward the wall.

And some of them are the ones I painted for me, myself, and I, because I'm the only one who loves them. Those tend to end up hanging in my living room.

"Crater," 2006, oil and wax on linen

This one, I freely admit, is weird. It is the sort of painting that, at first glance, causes many artists to dismiss me as an incompetent, delusional twerp. Some of them change their minds when they look at my old portfolios and discover that ten years ago, I was painting things like this:

"Above the Laundromat," oil and wax on panel, 48"x 32", 1997
Private Collection

I'm not offended by this. I think there is a qualitative difference between a painting that sits as part of an exploratory trajectory, and a random daub presented on its own, isolated in its pretension. That's what irks me about 'artists' who paint one painting and then trumpet it all over town. "Look at me! I painted A Painting! Isn't it great? Are you going to give me a show now?" That's also why I avoid putting pieces in non-curated group exhibitions. Context is everything.

Anyway, from my perspective, I see the 'Laundromat' painting as a successful study in light, shadow, texture, composition and mood, and this 'Crater' painting as an insouciant experiment in radical streamlining of those same principles, which makes me happy enough to put it on my wall. Or rather, now that it's on my wall, it's making me happy.

What's making me happy about it are the colors, the texture, and the radical contrasts of line quality, value, and form. They're hard to see in a photo, no matter how close up:

With the layering of golds, pinks, whites and blues next to the dark earth shapes, every bit of it seems to vibrate and glow.

A lot of people see this as a 'volcanic eruption.' That, in my opinion, is ridiculous. Can't they see that it's pink? Volcanic eruptions are orange and red and black and gray. This is an eruption of pink light from the crater of my heart; the little silver thistle thing is the ghost of heart-chakra blockages past...

...and all bad poetry is sincere, too. I can't say the same for bad painting; some of it is tremendously insincere. But I don't see this as a bad painting. I see it as a necessary painting, which helped me get to the better paintings of present and future, and a piece of controlled chaos in my living room, where it creates a nice tension with the decorative formality of the Oriental rug.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Cheers!


jackadandy said...

Glad you're back...


danonymous said...

I thought, oh don't bother, you'll just see the word SILENCE. BUt I decided to bother and lo and behold was rewarded. Life is amazing, ain't it?
And hi to Jackadandy as well.

abstractjenn said...

Glad you are back...been checking frequently to see if you have posted. Love love love the painting!

prettylady said...

Hi, dudes! Thanks for checking in! I missed you, too! :-)

And Danny, I've been meaning to call, I just got distracted. I WILL be at your opening this Saturday, and maybe we can do happy hour before then, even.