Thoughts about painting

Update 3/12/22

Chance and intuition play heavily throughout the history of abstract painting and I embrace that part of this modality. The foundation of my practice is automatic drawing. This framework gives constraints that are actually freeing and focus the use of intuitive, creative energy- spontaneity, the word artists use instead of play. Intuition requires that choices are made along the way as well-choice is perhaps our most precious resource, so I think it makes sense to engage it vigorously. The allure of creating objects that are an exchange of energy between the maker and viewer has motivated me since I began making art as an undergraduate student.

I am interested, within my practice and my life, in the idea that two dissonant concepts or conditions can simultaneously be true. Painting is by nature flat (a surface) and can imply space/depth. Compositionally, the cube shows up as both an element and a structure. Isometric cubes are 3 trapezoids that form a pattern, and can also imply a solid shape given variation in tone betwixt them. In the case of my work, many of the cubes’ orientation in space can also be understood from vantages which contradict each other.

Personally, cubes have additional content for me, whether from time (hours!) spent in childhood assembling blocks to time spent rendering simple spaces in first year of architecture school, or to the wireframe computer animation of the late 70s and early 80s that was an aesthetic cultural shift I got to witness.

At this point in western history we all see the cube as a representation of early, Modernist ideas of nonrepresentational painting. That intention works for me, as a place to enter the work. Formalism is what my practice looks like in the studio. I don’t see the works themselves as signs that exist to point to something else like an idea. For this reason, I don’t title pieces before they are shown, so the audience will engage first in looking without anchoring to or filtering a concept. 

The distinction I am drawing here is between looking at a thing on its own terms and talking about that act of looking and its phenomenological, social and historical implications. Historically speaking, there’s nothing left Painting has to do. Focusing inwardly, on the work, becomes much less fraught, I think, in an era when that activity doesn’t mean a vacuous adherence to silly ideas about the true nature of things, or pointless celebrations of masculine ingenuity.

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