"For artists and intellectuals today, what is most needed is to be clear about social responsibility, because that's what most people automatically give up. Just to protect yourself as an individual is very political. You don't have to march on Tiananmen, but you do have to be clear minded, to find your own means of expression." - Ai Weiwei
And so, to be clear minded, I paint. Makes absolutely no sense, but there it is.
This week a new online connection, a buddhist writer, complimented my painting as “easing a tendency away from oppositional reactions....directly eliciting mood, most often,...... not of a static peace, but of an active and engaging contentment. You literally draw the viewer in to a field of play.”
This is a great compliment because if I am able to create this space, even if “only” in a painting, then the work has real value, or at least my values integrated into it. There can be no peace without contentment, and peace is a primary value.
As much as I dislike requirements for justification because of how they seem so much of the time to sap other more worthy adventures, they have uses, being as they are a seeming prerequisite for dialogue, in the world, as it is today. Regarding painting, this seems an odd preoccupation, being as we are, distracted with so many other emergencies that are so dire. And so, if these spaces are of peace and playfulness, which may be companions to new possibilities, then surely this is good and useful service.
That said, care of the most neglected dog is of more importance than housing the greatest masterpiece, because (s)he is alive, and paintings are inert materials, but not in the world we are in today. So much the worse for our spirits. Art is a tool for remembering certain things about life, not a false idol.
I paint for a world that holds the animating life spirit in reverence. I paint for a world I see in peace and solitude, not the surrounding one that seems to be real now. In painting I experience a flexibility and balance illusive to me in the rest of my living, though this is getting better.
It is time for dialogues with the still necessary narratives of history. Though “History is a nightmare from which we attempt to awaken” it has its uses for clarification, dialogue and envisioning change. The historical imperatives we are familiar with are useful in understanding what not to do, if it is possible that we may evolve to something better by envisioning new ways to live, if only in opposition to them. The dialectic of a way opposing what has happened in the past may have its uses. It is always a good time for slipping glimpsers and now, for balance, it is a good time for yin brushes. Now is a good time for baroque wabi sabi, a pendulum swing away from commercialized slick surfaces and all that they stand for, now is a time for romanticism, depth, and mystery, and nature's value rather than the devastations of industry. Now is a good time to consider the timeless.
To hold the life spirit in reverence is to move slowly, savoring every turn. It is to sing and dance rather than calculate or compete. Every one that lives is a singer or dancer or some other manifestation of the sacred, not only one of us in a million, but all of us, here, now and forever.
MARCH 2013 PART ll of Vl of 6 month online curatorial project is temporarily interrupted today saturday march 30 and will resume in another online venue soon.
BLACK SKETCH 18v20" acrylic/canvas 2013
This month of March, 2013, is the month ll of Vl which is a 6 month curatorial project of mostly works on paper on etsy. As some of you know, I have always considered my works on paper as preparatory to the works on canvas and they are also far more numerous. Most of these works are not usually shown outside of the studio and are on view during this project only. During this time, there will also be a semi full accounting of works still available from a body of work spanning 20 plus years in Picassa albums.
This month continues offerings from the NC series. Instead of the 5x4” size shown in February, in March 7x5” sizes are featured. Also, with this group, the option of a frame is given, shown in detail images. There are also 4 square 5x5” works on offer here.
The smallest works in the selection this month are 4 black paint on rough white watercolor paper of a group of 5, executed in 1995 title “blot series” (#1). This was one of those afternoon idylls which make up so many of the exercises that go into painting. A blot was splashed onto each paper, and then a figure was made from what appeared there, in 3 of these. Though a lot of figurative drawing was done by me in the 80’s, very little was in the 90’s.
The 2 small (4.2x7.3”) works on pink card stock are from a small portfolio titled “eggplant” which is one of my favorite colors for drawing.
There is a pale peach poured work using rose petal extract, (one of 3) and another from the “food” portfolio using tumeric, chili & ink. Also a couple of acrylics on the same 8.5x5.5 watercolor portfolio that was used between larger works in the mid-late 90’s and a black & white spiral 5.2x4.2, from the early 90’s and 2 on paper made in india about the same size.
This month the first work on canvas of 2013, BLACK SKETCH 18x20” is offered along with 2 very small canvases “donated” to me of 5x7” and 6x8” executed in 2012, titled Mini Canvases #1 & 2 PURPLE & ORANGE 9x16” also in 2012 and finally, POND (it came true!) 16x12” done in 1994 in oils on canvas. All except for the very little ones will be shipped rolled. I consider the works on canvas more integrated and autonomous as works of art, so they are priced in accordance with that, which is to say much more than the works on paper.
Have not had the pleasure of doing public curatorial projects for a while and am enjoying this. I hope you do also!
I was reading Claude Reich’s stimulating thread on influence the other night and this conversation triggered some new thoughts about artist’s influence at various times. Artistic influence in the 21st century is so wide ranging and multiplying at such a speedy rate that it is difficult to define. Hopefully as we progress, or more likely develop more positive ways of being in the world so that the species may survive, art will become so integrated into the lives of most people that living masterful work will be a part of every vibrant community. Rather than having a one, or 3 or even a dozen “geniuses”, there will be thousands, hopefully millions, functioning in communities everywhere. I think most artists understand, even if no one else does, that there are probably at least a thousand artists functioning now that have the talents of a Picasso, a Du Champ or even a Pollock. There are too many of us for this not to be true, The more are empowered to choose this path, the more richly cultured and balanced life will become.
The 20th century still contains enough old paradigm ideas and structures historically to be instructive regarding influence artistically. The rarity of art practice (in the so called west) makes it easier to pinpoint during this time, and perhaps contributed to the massive war and killing taking place in that century. How would history be different if Hitler had the option to just live a simple life in art? The idea that one must conquer competition and be “one in a thousand” is part of a paradigm that is deadly. I digress.
The main art influences in 20th century may correspond neatly with 3 main states of human consciousness which are feeling/emotional states, thinking/intellectual states and spiritual/metaphysical awareness.. The 3 artists that personify these states most clearly are in the same order, Picasso, du Champ and Kandinsky. The strength of their influences are an instructive indication of western humanities general states and value systems. The passion and feeling of Picasso is the base consciousness common to us all. The intellectual games of du Champ, who is mentioned on this thread as the most influential, even now, mirror modern societies love of science. Kandinsky’s abstraction is connected to the evolving, though still by no means prevalent, concern with spirituality. Of course all 3 artists used aspects of all 3 states as any artist does, however this orientation may be useful for illustrating influence which is a mirror of the society it is in. These 3 states of being, when balanced, are all included in human states of being. The imbalances of society are mirrored in the varying degrees of influence accorded these 3 approaches in the 20th century.
It is said by some that imbalance is at the root of most of our problems. This historical approach may be used to illustrate the lack of value placed on things of the spirit by way of Kandinsky’s seeming lack of influence. Things of the spirit have been ignored and denigrated then and still are to a certain extent that is unbalanced. As this changes, art will become a much more widespread process as will self governance. Regarding Kandinsky’s “Spiritual in Art”, the ideas in this book in no way match the brilliance of his early Improvisations, although certainly the title matches the content of his best work. It is worth noting that malnutrition contributed to his early death shortly before WW2 ended, while Picasso went on to fill mansions full of his work. The spiritual is starved, while passionate materiality dominates. Mirrors.
I think it is an interesting and perhaps instructive idea to approach 20th century art through the lens of these 3 states of being and welcome commentary and feedback on this idea, which may be developed further in many ways.
What if all of history were approached through the lens of art rather than war?