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At the beginning of October 2002 my mind was full of questions about the work and where it should go. I took a vacation from the studio to sort through the questions. The answers left me feeling empty. I reasoned - "no future traveling in this direction". 1969, 1973, 1979, 1981, 1987, 1993, 1995 and 1997 evaluations yielded similar results where modifications to my program were introduced and I stepped off in a different direction. On two occasions changes in concept occurred: 1969-1973 changed to a concentration on human figure and its occupying space then returned to AE abstraction; 1981-1987 changed to a concentration on abstract seascapes then returned to AE abstraction. Since 1987 I have been mining the AE program.
Here is a reflection or two that came out of this 3 month analysis.
Artists never really paint like their influences. In not doing so, they create a style that reveals a filtered relationship.1 For me I filter Abstract Expressionism as I understand it 2002-- obviously not from first-hand experience 1940-1950 etc. My filters produce concepts that painting can show itself as it is, marks on an essentially flat canvas. The brushstroke represents both the freedom to make a mark and the formal constraints I place on myself in order to remain a part of the artistic tradition I have chosen to chase.I am not a purest. For me it is not enough to engage in AE from a pure formal position. I appropriate elements from other art periods and media; especially oriental painting, poetry and music related to Ch'an and Zen thought (and time periods), contemporary music (classical and jazz) [a very big influence - musical sound and color relationships], and to some extent contemporary poetry (again, the sounds of it as it is read aloud - word/sound relationships). I also freely appropriate painting structures from my contemporary (and near contemporary) peers if I feel the composition requests it, or I simply like the move and want to use it and put it in (whim)[intellectual appropriation].
The NEW, or what I call UNIQENESS, enclosed in my work is conceived from within the methodology that I use. It is also determined by my personality. Attached to my personality is the baggage associated with my life as experienced up to the moment a painting is constructed. This cone* of experience includes all naiveté, education (and lack of), age/life issues, etc. This experience, both mental and physical, profoundly influences how I apply the filters and ultimately engage in the making process. The painting thus becomes a collection of marks illustrating these connections.My mind is very active. I spend way too much time alone. I am incessantly thinking of fresh ways to apply my filters. So I paint my dream. There are interconnected and unconnected paintings produced respectively. This has been very consistent over the years. Ultimately my studio is and has been a broad examination laboratory. At times I wish this aspect of my work would disappear. I envy those artists who have a clear and decisive direction and make a commitment to it. Why don't I do it this way?
Upon evaluating the past 40+ years of production, there exist six separate and interweaving guidelines and commitments in my work which I discuss at Subjects of my Paintings. This continues to operate today. I am me and I cannot escape the me that moves me forward and working in the studio. This circumstance may be confusing to others. It is confusing at times to me.Thursday, December 19, 2002 2:28 pm
1. http://www.haberarts.com/twombly.htm Cy Twombly: A Retrospective by John Haber.
*I define life experience as a cone. Actually one can visualize this cone as an ever expanding sphere travelling in the direction of time. When life starts the sphere of experience is very small. It gradually enlarges as one grows older. Thus the end of the cone that represents most recent age, is larger and more complex than what it was at the beginning. I don't know how to graphically represent an ever-expanding sphere which constantly expands along a linear path. So the cone works for me.
Appropriation: To appropriate is to take or borrow something and incorporate it into a work of art. Its uses are widely varied: Artists can appropriate objects, materials, concepts, and even cultural or artistic traditions. The appropriation may be of an industrial production technique or of an aesthetic ideology. Appropriation has become a basic practice in contemporary art, at least since Marcel Duchamp appropriated often mass-produced objects and created his "readymade" works.Automatism: Surrealists used the term "automatism" in the 1920s to describe spontaneous writing or painting undertaken to freely express the workings of the subconscious. The Surrealists saw automatism as a means to free themselves from any preconceived notion or artistic style and achieve the truest, most individual approach to creative expression. French Surrealist André Masson pioneered automatism in art with his "lightning" drawings. Automatism was later taken up by the New York Abstract Expressionists and describes the freehand "action" painting style of Jackson Pollock.
Conceptual art: Conceptual art focuses on ideas rather than artistic objects. Conceptual usually refers to forms of contemporary art other than painting and sculpture, particularly performance, happenings, and environmental art. Conceptual artists use photographs, texts, and ephemera to document their ideas, or to testify to events that occur outside the gallery or museum. In the 1970s in Latin America, the Conceptual movement addressed local political and social issues; Pop art and Surrealism influenced its style.
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