Knocking at an Empty House

January 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

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From the essay ‘The Porcupine and the Car’  in Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings 1973-1994 by Bill Viola (1995) (Thanks to Julie at Unreal Nature.)

Artists have known for a long time that the most interesting connections in things involve areas of low, or ambiguous, information, so-called “gaps” in recognition. This is the time of involvement, of participation by the viewer, in a work of art. The process of learning itself demands that initially one must be confronted with something one does not understand. René Magritte wrote: “People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image. No doubt they sense this mystery, but they wish to get rid of it. They are afraid. By asking ‘What does this mean?’ they express a wish that everything be understandable. But if one does not reject the mystery, one has quite a different response. One asks other things.”

(Image: Still from video,  “Quintet of the Astonished,” 2000, by Bill Viola.)

Stanley Lewis

September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Stanley Lewis is one of the seven artists included in the upcoming exhibition, See It Loud, at the National Academy Museum in New York City.

A Contrarian Streak

September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

See It Loud an upcoming show at the National Academy Museum in New York City investigates the work of seven influential painters who were beginning their careers at a time when Abstract Expressionism dominated the art world and the teaching of art. Leland Bell, Paul Georges, Peter Heinemann, Albert Kresch, Stanley Lewis, Paul Resika, and Neil Welliver all followed individual paths through abstraction toward the re-investigation of representation, perception, and narrative in painting.

The show opens September 26 and runs until January 26, 2014. For more information about the show and the individual artists:

http://www.nationalacademy.org/see-it-loud/

Frank Hobbs Interview with Larry Groff at Painting Perceptions

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m finally getting around to posting my interview on Painting Perceptions, which came out in April. Many thanks to Larry Groff for this exceptional blog and website.

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Dignity in Work: Cleveland’s Matthew Dibble

March 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

A Visual Conversation: The Paintings of Matthew Dibble

By Katherine Aimone   www.artswrite.com

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“Too much thinking can be an obstacle for me when painting; the ‘judge’ always seems to get in the way. My connection can only be found in the moment, and I often come back to a sense of my feet on the floor while painting. During these moments some real work is possible…. As artists, we do much better trying to keep things simple. We do better to compare ourselves solely to ourselves. Self-inventory is useful, while self-condemnation is not. Without calling our whole identity into question, there are inquiries that we can fruitfully ask. How am I developing as an artist? Am I doing the work necessary for me to mature? Did I work today? Yes? Well, that’s good. Working today is what gives us currency and self-respect. There is dignity in work.”  —Matthew Dibble

The Angel

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

“I go to the studio everyday because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don’t go and the Angel comes?”                                                                                                                      

-Philip Guston

 

 

Present Surroundings: Walter Murch, 1907-1967

October 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

“I think a painter paints what he thinks about the most. For  me, this is about objects from my childhood, present surroundings, or a chance object that stimulates my interest, around which accumulate these thoughts. I suppose you could say I am more concerned with the lowly and forgotten object, the one people discard because they are finished with it or see it in a certain logical automatic way that I would like to break.” 

“When I am in the painting, I don’t know what I am doing. After a period of getting acquainted, I begin to recognize that the painting has a life of its own. If I lose contact with its life the painting is a mess and if I keep harmony with it, it turns out well. It is possible to discover a work of art in the process of creating it. Beyond that, whatever emotional results may occur in the mind of the observer, I can’t control nor would I want to. I remain only the artist.”

From Walter Tandy Murch: An Introduction, by Michael Grimaldi, Linea, 2007

Walter Tandy Murch bio.

More on the artist can be found at Painting Perceptions.

Philip Geiger

September 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Rackstraw Downes

April 19, 2012 § 5 Comments

“When I… started painting from observation, one of the reasons was that I didn’t want to be so damn self-conscious about my paintings… Why not just look at something and paint it the way it is? Plop! And that’s what I did.

People often say to me, why do you pick such banal subjects, and I don’t understand that at all. They don’t seem to me to be banal in the least. They’re full of magic.

I came from a very flamboyant household, very theatrical – a very histrionic household. Everything was exaggerated; you never knew what anyone meant, and I didn’t like it. And I didn’t trust my own histrionics either, or strong affect, or whatever it is… in my paintings I try to get all that out and state it exactly – ‘no no, that’s not the way that air conditioner sits in that window. Do it again, Downes, and get it right this time, the way it really is!’ And I love that! I love feeling I have now got it, banal or not, I don’t care.

The detail comes in because you have to figure out how to move from here to here; then to here and to here… you make this block without any windows and you’re not sure whether it really is comfortably that size. As soon as you get those windows in there you get clearer and clearer and clearer about what it is. And in order to move about and keep these things in proportion I need all these things.

It’s my job to find places that answer to some internal need. I think that there’s this internal need before you get to the place and that the place answers the need.

…Could you paint a mountain without being sentimental about mountains, without falling victim to the mountain rhetoric; you know: look at this tremendous canyon, it’s so deep, and look at this terrifying crag up over your head, and all that business… I’m not interested in rhetoric at all.

I think that artists, or people who are active in another art form, even if it be writing or music… are often very, very perceptive critics of a different art form… a writer writing about painting or something, because they realize the limitations of criticism. Criticism can’t do everything, it can’t explain everything, and it can’t make certainties. There are no certainties in art.

There was a statement of Stendhal’s he wrote to his sister… “Only write on matters that you feel very strongly about. When you put them into words, try to do it as though you didn’t want anyone to notice.” I thought that was stunningly brilliant, and I felt exactly the same way.

I will say this… that all of us that are painters or artists or poets, or whatever it is, we spend quite a big chunk of every day doing the thing we really want to do. That cannot be said by lots of people.

- Rackstraw Downes, from video and interview by Betty Cunningham Gallery, 2007.

Chuck Close: Notes to My Younger Self

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Courtesy of CBS News

“This is a note to myself at age 14:

I was in the eighth grade and was told not to even think about going to college. I couldn’t add or subtract, never could memorize multiplication tables, was advised against taking algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry. Since I was good with my hands I was advised to aim for trade school, perhaps body and fender work.

 Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don’t apply to you. I applied to a junior college in my hometown with open enrollment, got in and embarked on a career in the visual arts. Virtually everything I’ve done is influenced by my learning disabilities. I think I was driven to paint portraits to commit images of friends and family to memory. I have face blindness, and once a face is flattened out I can remember it much better.

 Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself. Sign on to a process and see where it takes you. You don’t have to invent the wheel every day. Today you’ll do what you did yesterday, tomorrow you’ll do what you did today. Eventually you’ll get somewhere. No one gets anywhere without help. Mentors, including your parents, can make you feel special even when you’re failing in other areas. Everyone needs to feel special.

 My father died when I was eleven and that was the tragedy of my life, a horrible thing to happen when you’re so young. Oddly enough, there was a gift in this tragedy. I learned very early in life that the absolute worst thing can happen to you and you will get past it and you will be happy again. Losing my father at a tender age was extremely important in being able to accept what happened to me later when I became a quadriplegic.

 If you’re overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into many bite-size pieces. Quadriplegics don’t envy the able-bodied, we envy paraplegics. We think they’ve got a much easier row to hoe. There’s always someone worse off than you. I’m confident that no artist has more pleasure, day in and day out from what he or she does, than I do.”

CBS Video: Chuck Close Notes to My Younger Self

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