Mounds

Recently I’ve been asked, with some expression of surprise by people who visit my studio, “these are figures?!”  I think for some people it’s a stretch.  I’m drawn to abstraction because of it’s ambiguity, but I’m not painting non-objectively.  I like to reduce recognition to see if I can conjure the figure in a painting at a minimized state. The figures I’m painting are unrecognizable and not typical human forms because I imagine them as obscured by themselves.  It’s as if the figure is underneath them, or the person is underneath all this extra growth that has manifested itself through the process of living, and bogs them down.  I don’t know if it’s enough for me to tell my viewer that though.

My friend Dan Perkins came in the other night and said “essentially you’re painting mounds.”  Which in some ways is true, in a very literal sense.  I used to think that the object the artist made, if given the proper amount of time, should speak to the viewer without the aid of an artist statement or of knowing the history of the artist; that the object could be independent of the context of the artist.  But more and more, I think this is less true, and that perhaps where an artist comes from and what we read or hear about them inevitably adds to our interpretation of their work. Especially when I’ve met an artist before I’ve seen their work, I find my self becoming more sympathetic and less judgmental of the work because I’ve formed some kind of relationship with them; the person who made it. It makes me wonder how much time I should spend thinking about these things.  Like I shouldn’t worry about the ideas too much, and just embrace my process and paint.

I was talking to my new friend Laura Moore about some of this today at lunch and decided to check out her work.  She’s taking everyday objects and giving them sensuality in stone but the idea doesn’t become overly didactic through the form. It feels like she’s laid out a solid concept so that she can focus on the thing she’s interested in, which is to carve stone, to sculpt, to interact with the material (at least this is what it seems like to me). I sometimes think that I should hone in on a less loose concept, that I shouldn’t be so stubborn about process being my guide, that I should have a more executable strategy when I approach the painting, that the image could be more understandable in a single frame opposed to the full body of work.  But I’m afraid of boredom, or maybe commitment, so I keep painting through process.  I like the possibility, and spontaneity of this – but I also want my work to be something other than paintings, or the process of accumulated paint.  For me they can’t just be mounds…

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