Progress

I’ve been making progress on the largest painting in my new series, Passages. Sometimes, when working in series, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. As paintings get closer to done, it becomes easier to recognize how they fit in. As the work evolves, it can also point at mistakes in the earlier work that can still be fixed. Luckily, I think I’m coming to a convergence on both these points. I’m straddling the line between cohesion and singularity, and overall, I think the whole series is going to be a success.

It’s also worth mentioning how this series fits into the historical canon. That is, how I see it fitting in. I believe that the resurgence we see in figurative art today is because of the nature of representation. When you make conceptual work, offering those concepts in an abstract way can often create an additional hurdle for the viewer. In the more traditional mediums (painting, sculpture, print-making, etc.), it was always a battle between concept and form. On one hard,figurative artists eschewed concept over rigorous technique (think: Philip Pearlstein). The new school of conceptual art reduced abstraction to its core essence: minimalist shapes (think: Donald Judd). Eventually, the conceptual artists had to invent new forms or give up on form in order to toy with their ideas. The problem was that the audiences became required to know and more about the concepts behind the work in order to understand it. Now, I happen to think being an art appreciator requires a bit of knowledge and understanding. But this still leaves most lay-people out in the cold. Fortunately, I think contemporary figurative art bridges the gap. We are free to use technique and craft to represent recognizable forms and let the questions come from their configuration. For the layperson, this means that even if you don’t understand why certain images are used or what they symbolize, you can still recognize the images themselves. There is no longer any gap between figuring out the imagery, then deciphering the meanings. You can go straight to concept. Of course, all the same rules apply to configuration: composition, color, texture,rhythm, harmony, etc. But I think people are more apt to give respect when the imagery is executed in an accomplished fashion.

So, this new series is part and parcel of the new wave of figuration. I’m taking existing imagery and re-mixing it in paint, so to speak. I do this in order to get at the questions I think are important without worrying about defying the inherent properties of the medium. The imagery is plain; the concepts are what drive the work. I certainly hope so anyway. There’s plenty more to say on this topic, but I’ll leave it there for now.

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One Response to “Progress”

  1. You can thank the medium of television for the viewing public’s lack of depth when it comes to appreciating thoughtful art.

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