Saturday, August 9, 2008

Working Statement for (not) in some other place

My previous body of work was an exploration of systems. Those paintings looked for the inherent differences within a repeated process. They looked for the narrative in the resulting images. Rather than each canvas being a separate painting, I began to see that many canvases can be one painting. This conceptual experience helped to expand my understanding of painting: as open-ended. Yet, I felt something was missing. After fixating on the quagmire of theory I researched in support of the work, I felt a new direction needed to open up.

Where I had previously used repetition of elements to lead the viewer through several canvases arranged across a wall, I now wanted a way to collapse that space back into a single canvas. In meditating on this challenge, I decided to re-introduce an idea of perspective into the work. Simultaneously, I re-introduced ROYGBIV, which proved pivotal in opening the work up to playful impulses.

To encourage this spontaneity, I cultivated an obsession with listening to Coltrane's album, "A Love Supreme", while making these works. Coltrane played simple melodies and improvised off of them, thereby creating a new way to experience that melody. He turned the familiar into something unexpected. It inspired me to take more risks with the composition and color.

To break my habit of conceptualizing the work while producing it, I read the poetry of John Ashbery instead of Art Theory texts. His poem "Blue Sonata" became a mantra for me in the studio as I embraced not being in some other place but "in the sigh of the present."

I believe this new body celebrates the expansion of a personal history of abstraction, bringing it into the contemporary with a lightness. In an attempt to keep geometric abstraction fresh and to re-invent it for myself, I asked: How can you take the lessons of history and make them relevant? Can they become departures for new ideas? Bringing in perspective, via the triangles or broken rectangles, provides the illusion that things are receding and coming forward. Playing with transparency and opacity keeps the work from falling into something flat or stylized. The new work employs a humor that complements the weight of historical abstraction.

August, 2008