Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stored away

Afew months ago Nori Mizukami asked me some questions about art. Here is a response to one about painting.

question 2

Here are some thoughts about the questions youv'e raised in our coorspondence relating to painting.

You say that you sense I'm very drawn to painting now, and that's true, very much so. I spent a week here taking a long, hard look, taking inventory of paintings I have here at my place. I threw out some unsalvagable 0nes, kept some to paint over, and others to re-work. Made some room in my little place and , any little room helps in a New York apartment. I'll be able to start finishing many half- finished pieces finally and have ordered paint supplies.

Thats why I'm reluctant to show you much in painting still, as you can understand when something is still not finished and lacks its essence, like a film thats incomplete. The series of charcoal drawing mainly finished is a differnt matter.

Its taken a long time to find solutions to visual problems posed by some of these paintings, but recently I've found them, and they have paraded themselfs forcefully, these ideas vying for attention as they push into my awareness, insisting I jot it all down even before another solution for another painting comes to mind.

I'm very happy with things now, getting ready for all the work to follow.

Its after a very very long period of thought, meditation, futilitity and giving it all over to my subconconcious, that solutions have arrived this winter.

They did so, usually in short, vivid bursts, in a long parade each idea and solution pushing aside the previous idea, sometimes too quickly. Its rare personally speaking. There are so many ways artists create and for whatever reason things are...clicking.This isnt a universal part of making art, and I describe it as only how I often work.

As an artist, obviously creative ideas are constantly arising, and often blend with other's ideas too, say when we do work together in the photo group.
But this older work disapoints me and needs drastic, and urgent re -evaulation. I had once imagained it all as having been a succesful realization. But seeing the work again without a cataract, is another, disapointing story. Viewing it all again with the perspective of a removed cataract, can shake my confidence, so I've this need to go over it all again, to secure a final kind of certaintity in what I can put my name on. Hope you understand this.

Thinking about painting, I cant draw a firm line between any medium really. Or between group work or individual artistic effort. My painting and personal work is on a diffent time scale however, not at all suited for public discourse, theorizing, or grant writing.  There are very long times of inaction, worry, inability, distraction and misdirection.

Personal work blends sometimes with Seeing With Photography and our identity.But in indirect subtle and maybe peripherial ways that are still central.

For example, I made a landscape painting many years ago and took a slide of it. In my light paingintgs I sometines use slides of my own art as a background. I might tape two differnt ones together to form a non represental, abstract scene or, like this one, just use it as is.

Nothing interesting came out though. Yet the slide of the painting was there with us for awhile, immersing itself subtly in our group's identity and awareness, being commented on, described, yawned over, focused on the wall, and posed with. In its subtle way, it lingered in that subliminal, intangible way, staying with the unseeing and barely seeing like a tiny embryonic nucleus that grows, in unknown ways, until it settles into finality, years later, its concepts aparent, its weaknesses unvieled, its strengths clarified. The art work took a little trip, like many do, and I like that it was there with us in our photo group, in an indirect sort of way.

This winter, very recently, ideas for more paintings, more completions of unfinished business, hit me in the course of just a few days really, rapid fire, intensely, directly and unmistakably clear.

Each part fits beautifully, elements of landscape, architectural space, darkening this and lightening that, bands and streaks, medallions and garlands, mirrors and silvered plates, window light and upside down paintings within paintings,collage with found objects all is fitting together... recorded in a book full of incessant ideas now filling the pages. Ideas plucked from different eras of time and cultural history. but merging here on the canvas in surreal unity. Sketchbooks have been carefully gone over under raking light, sketches of tight complex little abstractions to develop, tiny sketches of small but memorable spaces to bring out once again. Its fitting like piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I've bought two very bright work lights.

Many painting ideas came, like a dam had broken and ideas flooded my mind with such rapidity, it was all I could do to jot them down. All made sense. All ideas finished actual works I had put away wrapped in plastic.

Another example is another unfinsihed painting of a jade plant made about twenty years ago. Its vauge, with chunky spaces, but shapes that still need to loose their fog, and key into an idea.

That idea finally arrived, When my dad was dying last summer, he became very weak, and one day got dizzy and fell into an enormous jade plant growsing near a sunny window at my parent's home. Its a special jade plant, whose origins go back to a tiny cutting given to my nother as a gift from a dying young man, It thrives and shines with a relentless vitality.

So I will combine both recent incident combined with older painting, merging both into a new theme. with older shapes underpinning the painting's structure.

Yes I want to return  to painting Nori. Frankly I'm not sure of my ablilties and strength to face the challange, but I'll try.

When you at first asked me to think of a project, something bigger than usual, I wanted to use two landscape paintings as backgrounds, but after viewing them again, decided not to, they just weren't right.

I wanted to get rid of a lot of things, these included, so I removed them from their wooden stretchers. But something happened. I heard a soft crackling as the heavy canvas sagged and moved.

The brittle layer of paint began to crack and flake off, coating my shoes and the floor, crisp flakes popping off the canvas. Artists often paint over old canvases. I'm prone to it. There are two previous compositions under that final one thats flaking off.

There might be advantages to
a disintegrating painting in a symbolic, and also visual way. In fact, it gave me an entirely new perspective for another light painting.

I didint have my camera then, so now they wait rolled up and stashed away, marred, but surprisingly interesting remnants, like random static sprinkled around, exposing the previous underpainting beneath . At least I think so ...but it was dark there and it might not be so at all, its just another uncertintity, but thats what I have in my mind's eye anyway.

Soon each will be used in a photograph, then thrown away. I imagine using the flashlight on them, rehearse what shapes will be in front and stand near them in their dark solitutude before my Nikon in the months to come.

Hope this all was helpful!


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