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Omphaloskepsis Blog

Those Supreme Beings Have Me Melancholy

Dec 20, 2009


I’ve been struggling the past couple of days with the greens, and the knowledge that I can’t go into the studio for a few days because of the holidays - kids out of school. I need to make the paint a little juicier, and a little less thalo under foot, and a little more in the h2o, and fix the contrast in the toes.
    Its more than this that’s getting me down. Its the conversations about the whys and hows and wherefores about art. How to get from my studio to the museum and the corporate art collector. Do I need a gallery to have museum access? Who’s “The Man” and how to I get to “him?” There’s much to know. I’ll get there, I don’t need to learn it all now, right now I just need to focus on painting and making. All that other “stuff” will come. I need to remember to use my brain and not mindlessly paint, but mindfully paint. Seeing the Margie Livingston show at the Greg Kucera Gallery reminded me of that fact. Even though I have this series planned out, it cannot be a total respite from thinking about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and how to dig deeper. Questioning does the idea succeed in what has always been my primary goal, what is always the primary goal of all art - to affect the audience? Then the question becomes, how big is that affect? How big is the surprise? How big is the controversy? Do I even want to create controversy? What sensation do I want to affect with this art?
    I’ve been thinking about the portraits again and feel positively about them. I’ve seen several artists recently who paint incorporating drips. However, today I was noticing one artist who had painted a portrait and incorporated drips. His portrait was an illustration from a photograph and the drips were strategically placed graphic afterthoughts. Harsh, I know. That’s the most severe of the drip criticism that sets my work apart. My portraits can capture the essence, sensation, the life force emanating from a person. The drips are both a consequence of the process and the product as well as manifest demonstration of the ephemeral nature of the temporal. The transition from this to the underwater paintings seems natural. In both forms people come in and out of focus, like grasping smoke, or embracing water.
    Recently, I began to reexamine the philosophy book Gilles Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. I didn’t get very far the first time I read it. I’m reading it much slower this time. Its been 2 weeks and I’m still studying the introduction. Its been validating and has given me courage in my own theories that originated at a young age. The introduction talks about how touching the feelings of someone - affect - is the realm of the artist. Every emotion comes with a physical response in the body. For me the goal is visceral, like a kick in the gut. Although it is interesting to know all the reference pertaining to a piece of art, it seems more like discretionary information after the visceral reaction.
    I surmise some artists may have a problem with this point of view. They put their angst into their work and they want to be seen, that is the most relevant aspect of the work for them. They may consider the work successful if the audience grasps the semiotic meaning behind the work. The work may be clever, it may be well crafted, and for that the artist may receive praise that strokes his/her ego and satisfies his/her need to be “seen.”
    In reality, everything is self-reflective. A viewer can only see what their life experience enables them to see, and any impact or affect is not the artist’s life, but something that has been triggered from the viewer’s own. All I can hope to do is coax those triggers.
    In the water series, it’s the assimilation paradox effect where the affect may have an auditory component. Having been under water, where the world is quieter, and sounds are greatly muffled, when I view these images en masse, even the loudest environment becomes quiet. In the Accident Series, it is the absurdity of the violence combined with the deference of the subject that provokes in me a violent, immediate and uncontrolled laugher. Some science believes it’s part of the primal brain’s response to understanding we’re not in danger and triggering the release of endorphins. In the portraits, its the humanity of the people the pulsate from the canvas, and the velocity of the paint and brushwork. When I look at the residual portraits, they’re fun to look at, but it’s the concept that’s cool. I don’t know if any of this is enough to make this art great. And I aspire to make great art, but not merely as a means to an end, as part of this process that has been a lifelong journey of learning to see and sharing with the intent to affect the viewer.

Category: Philosophy

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