Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Dark Passage

(Click on the image to enlarge)

A canvas that I started working way back in 2001, this did not really begin to develop until last year, when I drove toward a strong classical illusion of light and dark, but only in service of mood. This image is wholly invented, and is to me a logical extension of abstract expressionist techniques. I simply kept driving until a landscape slowly emerge, populated with Arshile Gorky-like figurative lines stuffed back into specific allocations of space. The color and light in the impossible sky (no moonlight and sunrise would work like this) is verging dangerously on the surreal, but I'm not exploring a subconscious dream-image world, or front-loading an image with a sense of the internal purity of the subconscious.

I hope that the mood emerges naturally; if there is any specific referent (and this is a recurrent theme) it is that in the midst of the contemplation of emptiness, it is impossible not to want to see people, but our experience of this, while emotionally strong, is visually fleeting, always in motion, always just beyond grasp.

Are the swirling lines and forms sinking into and out of the dark gendered? Yes - you can think of a Picasso line, it's weight turning and twisting and surprisingly sexualized even while dissociated from body-but this is one way somewhat incidental to the work of the painting. Virtually all the work was the invention of the space, light and landscape. But I do think that the implication of imagined figures and imagined place is balanced on viewing the piece.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Everything Painting

Click on Image to Enlarge

This still-untitled work is in oil, about 60" by 84", and began with my most traditional process of two or three sessions with a model. Like the last major painting, there is a distinct implication of perspectival and atmospheric distance that the figurative forms occupy. Here, the connection to a real person, and a much more specifically conceived invented landscape are more apparent.

I am flirting with surrealism here, not to mention eroticism, but these evolved out of working with it. To me, it's closest affinity is with Excavation, by DeKooning. It has the same figurative sources, the same push to all-over abstracted form tiling, but re-embraces classical painting spatiality.

Which may be why these are taking so long - I have to decide where every abstract bit hangs in space, without much of a mimetic guide other than skin in light and shadow, and there almost no sketches. It was worked like a high modernism - trial and error, excavating the form.

The model's relationship to the image grew particularly stretched in terms of imagery, but her compositional positions were critical and largely survived. I have several earlier versions I may post later.

This working title of "The Everything Painting" is due to it's somewhat hopeless attempt to find a sweet spot between figurative realism, all-over abstraction, classical landscape (there is an ocean and a ground and a distant mountain range under there) and I'm afraid to say surrealism, in the sense at least of dream imagery. I generally dislike surrealism, with the exception of Yves Tanguy, because it tends to feel false and forced to me.

What I do like is any painting that successfully creates an embracing idea-atmosphere, where the emotions and the logic of the work are inseparable, powerful, and specific to the terms of painting.

Julianna in the Near Final Version

Click on image to enlarge

This is the near final version of Julianna, o/c 60" by 42", originally posted below.

Sorry for the image quality -to be improved on most of these soon.

Moving to Private Collection
Anchorage, Alaska

A Ferocious Collage - Island in Water, Island of Water

This is a medium size collage made from about 125 landscape paintings, intent on wrapping the horizon line around, which creates an atmospheric and perspectival infinity all around the edges, and in the middle.

Might turn into a major painting.