Paint & Process: Philip Guston in the Studio

January 26, 2012 § 9 Comments

“Destruction of paintings is very interesting to me and almost crucial. Sometimes I find that what I destroyed five years ago I’ll paint now, as if when the thing first appears you’re not ready to accept it. There’s some mysterious process here that I don’t even want to understand. I know that if I stopped painting and became a psychologist of the process of making I would probably understand it more but it wouldn’t do me any good. I don’t want to understand it like that, analytically. But I know that there is some working out that takes place in time but it’s not given to me to perfectly understand it; it’s illegal.

The first thing always looks good, then you start doubting it. I started this painting a few days ago; it went alright. It was almost finished in a day. But I came in late that night and I liked the left part. I didn’t like the right part. I started changing the right part and something happened that felt better than the left part, so then I changed the left part and before I knew it, the whole painting vanished! The painting that was almost finished didn’t look bad; it looked alright but it looked almost too good. It was as if I hadn’t experienced anything with it. It was too much of a Painting. I don’t mean that I need to struggle always with it… but it felt to me as if it were additions – this AND that AND this AND that. What I’m always seeking is some great simplicity where the whole thing is just there and can’t be just this and that and this and that.”

Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Art

Philip Guston’s paintings and drawings

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