Editing Out the Body

In a recent email correspondence with my friend Heather White I mentioned my ideas for some future animations that continue upon the idea of revealing process.  In part of her email she was responding to a comment I had made in regards to how taking pictures during the painting process, to make an animation can create an interruption.

“I like the idea of varying the frame rate to correspond with the process, even if it wasn’t precise. It brings up all sorts of interesting connotations. It’s like the whole genesis gets repeated – and is even infinitely repeatable – and brings the process and product that much closer. Also, the idea that it would be remaking itself without the artist. It’s so interesting that though your physical gestures keep you in the piece, your body is ultimately the thing that’s edited out – no wonder it interrupts the process, to have to make a moment every so often that’s purpose is to erase you!”

This idea of ‘editing out the body’ really struck a chord with me.  In my more recent paintings I’ve been trying to find ways to paint an ‘invisible mass’, and over this past summer I was toying with an idea that I called ‘Painting Invisible’.  I don’t have a clear definition to explain this, but it has something to do with how emotional and psychological pieces of the human condition meld with the body.  And in painting it has more to do with trying to paint something that implies or implicates mass but can’t be seen – there’s a very good chance that this is impossible.

I’m trying to paint figures who are abstracted or obscured by their own inability to clearly see themselves, and I am trying to manifest that through the physicality of the body, and the physicality of paint – it’s like the emotional burden of living manifesting itself through the flesh over time.  But then there’s also the invisibility of emotion, and how we cover up or hide how we feel or what we think about something – like the body masks something, which becomes invisible because of the ‘cover up’.  It’s similar to the layers of a painting where the accumulation of paint hides what’s underneath. We can’t really see who we are just by looking at ourselves in the mirror, i.e. by just looking at our bodies.  The internal, non-physical things inside of us account for a large part of who we consider ourselves to be, but are invisible.  So it’s like the body is edited out of a painting but re-represented through gestures in paint – gestures which signify something that can’t entirely be grasped.  

When I was in graduate school my friend Verónica Peña made a comment about my work; how it seemed that the abstract expressionists had pulled apart the figure and I was trying to piece it back together.  I like that idea.  I was also talking to another friend at work yesterday who had been looking at my blog and mentioned that he felt like I was putting life back into inanimate things through observation.  I’ve always liked to think that my work comes out of observation, but goes beyond the traditional ideas of literal observational painting and drawing by looking more at how we interact, cope, and live.

The images I’ve interspersed here are some stills from the upcoming animation, which I’m excited to say, should be finished by next week.

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One Response to Editing Out the Body

  1. Pingback: Invisible Painting One | paint the painting

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