Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Accumulative Interlocking

One of four smallish canvases in progress...

Improvisation continues in relationship to existing marks. The window is propped with a hammer, the sounds of continuous traffic. Drips on the freshly painted floor. I have been thinking about DeKooning (especially early and late periods) and Amy Sillman. Painter's painters. The sensuousness of the brush remains, with varieties of buttery, liquid, dry... the saturation of color which charges my retina and continues out into the world.

Forms are carved out. I'm not interested in depicting things. I'm feeling the way marks can open and question, or seal and confirm. I feel completion as a kind of interlocking, arrived at through accumulation of moves. As with sound, I try for velocity. I've also been thinking about wildstyle graffiti, the graphic quality of letter forms, which has been a longstanding impulse. Wildstyle graffiti is all about interlocking, the interplay of letters and the spaces between, which compete as foreground and background, positive and negative space, form and void.

Mural by Zephyr

I've been photographing various stages of these paintings in progress, trying to understand the way early, arbitrary marks can shape or determine later decisions. Trying to understand the way a consistent vocabulary rises out of an accumulation of small decisions. I gave up oil paints for about 8 years. I remember being frustrated with the problem of defining a vocabulary, the repertoire of personal forms. It's still a problem. I want these paintings to maintain ambiguity, places where forms could be one thing or another - or both.

I feel almost guilty for making paintings, abandoning any pretentions to sculptural form. A flat surface with shapes and colors. A medium in which one must trade between the refinement of materials and the crush of historical weight. An online review of Amy Sillman's recent paintings mentioned that an opinion of her work moves around the fulcrum of your opinion about the possibility of abstract painting. It's an issue I try to forget in order to continue. Seeing a small annex of Sillman's paintings on paper at the Brent Sikkema gallery in February reignited something. After months of internal debate, I finally took the plunge. It feels good.

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