Sunday, July 3, 2016

Speaking about art

I had the opportunity last evening to attend an opening reception at a very new performance and exhibition space in Greenfield.  I was impressed with the experience offered and the effort made by the gallery to foster new art.
Works by two local painters were displayed.  I spoke with one painter about several of his canvases. The paintings were done in tropical colors and depicted scenes of the Caribbean shore. The painter, who had lived on Isla Mujeres for some period of time, was enthusiastic about his work and had information about it to share.  The details of a rough boat journey from Cuba to the Yucatan and the flight of the occupants to the United States after landing brought a picture of a damaged rowboat to life for me, for example.  I was impressed that he was prepared and able to say something about his work!
That might seem an obvious kind of skill but I've wondered how successful I would be in attempting to connect a viewer with my work in a similar fashion.  Often my paintings become more process than subject. More about a color here or there or an angle of this or that or the texture, light or perspective which I desire to execute just because and the boat on the shore, for example, would be a vehicle for me to indulge in playing with paint.
So in the hope that the opportunity will present itself I'm writing something about the what and why of my work so that I'll have lots to say should the occasion arise!
Why make the work and what is it about?
Well, the why might be will that bore the viewer?  Anyway, I make it because it is fun to do!  Sometimes I'd like to be able to paint faster but with a slower process things are revealed. Usually for me what is developed is some form of perspective and depth, two qualities in pictures I find that I keep returning to.  So, another "why" for me is simply the experience of having the "revelation" achieved through process.  That is a reason for me to paint pictures.  Not so much to tell  a story or make a symbol or a lesson or even the achievement of the final brushstroke.
But the end result does matter!  Is the image pleasing regardless of the excitement of the process? I have to say I want to experience that as well!
What is the work about?  Does it have meaning beyond the obvious depiction of, for example, rocks on the shore or a reclined figure or eyes spaced to comport with reality...or not?
"This", dear gallery visitor, "is where it might get tricky".
"I think it might be difficult for me to tell you what my art is about.  If it is about anything it is certainly about how you see it more than it is about me.  I can tell you about the me I have put into it, to a certain extent, but I don't know what you see until you tell me.  And I may be totally surprised by what you tell me you see.  But here is my story:  When I paint a landscape subject from reality I am generally placing a horizon above and at a distance from myself.  This perspective allows a point of comfort for me. What the natural world might represent is all that I have experienced and if the horizon represents achievement it is something I am climbing toward. Apparently I am consistent where I repeat this  view with frequency.  So, I think my desire to achieve, indeed to move forward is maybe relentless if the presence of horizons in my work is revealing."
"However, I don't seem to be getting any closer to that horizon.  I don't seem to have much interest in seeing or representing a natural vista.  So, is what I don't see in the work revealing more about what the work is about?"
I'll continue this

line of writing in my next posting but here are images of  two pieces I'm working on.

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