Painting and text go together, like the painted caves of Lascuax or Chauvet and the graffiti, I mean the symbolic markings that cover the same limestone walls thousands of years later. And like our ancestors, practicing shamanistic rituals or simply recording recent animal sightings I use my studio as a cave to mythologize my own spirit model or simply record the barrage of information and spectral foreboding created by today’s primordial touch-screen environment.
Painting and Text each have their particular strengths and weaknesses. Painting’s strengths are its tactile physicality, immediacy of surface and its ability to capture an impulse or a gesture. Painting’s questionable viability (fragility) as a future art form, baggage of the logocentric (reductio ad absurdum) “new” and the “painting is dead” syndrome (dead painting criticism?) can be considered its weaknesses. As for Text, with its insatiable need for attention and its malleable and viral insertion into all mediums makes it a pervasive and often ignored medium in the context of serious influence on the art world. (Sort of like discussing how much salt was added to the Beef bourguignon recipe, important but not a sexy ingredient for discussion). But together these two mediums, Painting and Text create what I feel is a powerful mode of expression and communication. Painting is vulnerable but supported by a virtuous history. Text is ubiquitous, resilient and self-replicating. I believe these initial qualities are essential to creating interesting paintings today.
It is this union of Painting (body), Text (mind) and Soul (the viewer) that has led me to creating a system of re-thinking words into images, creating patterns that both echo the content of the Text while at the same time challenging the viewer to rethink their own understanding of the multiple ways we have of touching, knowing and communicating. Influenced by Asian cultures and a variety of writing systems, I developed a simple algorithmic / creative process called “Merge” or earlier in my exploration, “Monosyble”. The five principles of Merge 1) Compose, 2) Configure 3) Compress, 4) Comply and 5) Convey are nearly universal to most languages, changing static letterforms into visual and legible (if need be) content. This has been the terra firma for me to explore Painting with all its strengths and weaknesses, a way to keep it fresh and vital while continuing to comprehend its fleeting nature amid the enduring darkness.
I do not usually interest myself in the financial maneuverings of the art world but this latest sale harkened me back to my salad days and the book by Jean Baudrillard, “The Mirror of Production.” Read chapter four, Gesture and Signature; “Modern art, midway between critical terrorism (ideological) and de facto structural integration, is quite exactly an art of collusion vis-à-vis this contemporary world. It plays with it, and is included in the game.” (p.110)
On Friday October 12th, 2012 Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Painting (809-4) sold at Christie’s auction house for $34.2 million, breaking the $28.6 million “living-artist” record set in 2010 for one of Jasper Johns Flag paintings from 1960. But if you are to look at these modern masterpieces as investments, “simulated real estate” as Baudrilliard would have put it, then Jasper Johns piece which is much smaller in scale, approx. 26” x 40” still retains the per square inch painting record for a living artist. Richter’s painting at approx. 90” x 80” is about $4722.22 per square inch while Johns’ Flag painting is approximately $27,884.61 per square at the time of it’s sale.
This would be a rare case of smaller is better and an opportunity to ponder the perceived value of painting and it’s legitimate worth in the art world’s “logocentric” tradition, a closed system where no singular truth exist outside the manufactured construction. I miss my dash of “end of art pessimism” with a garnish of “materialization of aesthetics.”
It Had To Be You!
35” x 27” canvas, mixed media 2010
24” x 18” panel, mixed media 2010
These 2010 paintings will be in a Group Show at the new Art Affairs LA Downtown on Oct. 20 & 21 in conjunction with the Brewery Art Walk. More information about the event can be found on the following link, http://www.artaffairs.net/?Tnext=exhib&click=1349995455M
It Had To Be You! and Duchamp’s Dilemma are part of a larger series of works I informally refer to as the Self-Construct paintings. Arranging three-dimensional collage compositions on canvas panels using discarded or unused materials (cardboard, Plexiglas pieces and string) I applied dry pigments and paint mediums to play (articulate, enhance) into the intricacies and architecture of the 3D plane. This series reveals my intense relationship with color, how it complements, exudes and intensifies the experience of seeing the world of ideas that has been striped down to its essentials.
It Had To Be You! is composed of broken and recycled YOU forms from a raw supply of MERGE jewelry. These Plexiglas pieces were further broken, crushed or sprinkled onto the canvas over the course of several weeks and coated with an acrylic medium to embed the 3D pieces securely onto the surface. I then apply the surface with dry pigments and paint washes to create a conflict and instability of the color blending (adherence) process. (notice the glossy and matte blacks as they repel the orange and crimson). As this process of layering paint progressed it became apparent that It Had To Be You! was becoming a painting about patience, awareness and compatibility. With the obvious nod of the painting’s title to the classic torch song from the 1920’s this piece was also inspired by past “You” paintings that were created in a flat mechanical style, influenced by sign painting and more cerebral in nature and intent. This piece makes a break from the more graphic drawings and paintings and conjures up for me the feeling of romance, discovery and the excitement of YOU being here, now.
Duchamp’s Dilemma was influenced by the old anecdote that Duchamp’s painting of 1913; Nude Descending The Staircase #2 looked like an “explosion in a shingle factory.” Many of the preparatory works on paper and board I did as studies for this painting show faux and cartoony figures and facades blowing up from a concentric center “spot” or using the dynamic diagonal of the Duchamp masterpiece. Once I was committed to using recycled material that characterized the Self-Construct series I subdued the color pallet for this piece and concentrated on black and white with a dash of magenta dry pigment. As the paint reacted and dried the color separated creating the seductive pinks around the parameter of the composition. The title refers to Duchamp’s fascination with Chess (black and white) and it’s role with visual pleasure and the erotic. The dilemma would be the choices we make for our art or pleasure that at times paint us in the proverbial corner of a difficult situation.