I was recently confronted by the Philip Guston painting, Painter’s Forms II, 1978. In re-looking at the piece I started thinking about how Guston, in his later work, develops his own personal iconography; he paints objects that are from, and representative of his life. I find this interesting for a couple reasons. I always feel like I shy away from painting objects – it’s as if the representation of a physical object feels too solidified, and the symbolism found in objects lock them into a particular way of being read. Guston seems to get around this by keeping his representations of objects subjective and unconcerned with reproducing a likeness- but this seems very hard to do successfully, and something that he developed over his lifetime.
The real question that Guston’s paintings have caused me to ask is, if I had my own personal iconography, and were to paint it, what would it be? It surprises me to think that I don’t have an answer to that question, but I don’t. In reviewing my own paintings I look at the cloud forms and piles that I continue to paint and feel as if they might be concealing something. That inside the wafting clouds and piles of muck might be a personal iconography to be found.