45 x 50 cm
oil on canvas
RITUAL HEALING FOR THE MASSES
40 x 54 cm
oil on paper
Today we marched for metaphors that went the way of rivers: all dried up. We are dehydrated—and imagery takes a lot, a lot, a lot of water. I am not what I drink, and I am not what I eat, because the rations I have with me are bright green and my skin is smog on concrete, and that is not an attempt at metaphoric resurrection because I am literally choked up and can barely see past the person in front of me.
I used to be in touch with the phases of the moon but now it’s either on, or completely off: dark means go, light means stop, and the in-between is when we hold onto everything we’ve got and sleep with one eye open, which gives dreams—when I still have them—a constant backdrop of temperature readings and vital signs from my augmented reality contacts.
One thing that has come after the metaphor, though, is responsibility. There’s no more shifting of blame.
After The Horizon
150 x 220 cm (across two panels)
oil on canvas
Studio visit with Winston Chmielinski in Berlin!
GHOST WHERE THE IMAGE FOLDS
90 x 70 cm, oil on linen
soggyshorts said: why is it necessary for painters to destroy their paintings sometimes? wouldn't it be more challenging to endure the failure (or whatever it was that drove one to destruction)? having said that, are there other motives behind destroying a painting other than failure?
Failure is the baseline of every studio practice, so I would instead look at destruction as a tool. I have painted over canvases as a mental exercise: those hours/days spent on a single painting don’t reside on their surface, they constitute a chronology. I have also begun new paintings over old ones simply to highlight certain textural and chromatic residues. And sometimes it’s for the sake of economy, as there’s just no canvas left!
The image, however, has a life of its own; it is not (and I don’t believe it ever has been) the artist’s prerogative where it goes and who gets to see it, especially given the speed and breadth of digital propagation. Francis Bacon would violently cut up his canvases, presumably so they wouldn’t ever be looked at again—and then the Tate, in 2012, went ahead and put them back on display (http://galleryoflostart.com/), along with other lost/destroyed/rejected works from the past 100 years by the likes of Duchamp, Picasso, Miró, and de Kooning (among others). That’s where destruction also comes in as a myth, one of the persistent few we all still, in some way, subscribe to.
WHOLES AROUND OPENINGS
90 x 90 cm
oil on canvas
A didactic text gets you to the exit of a gallery or museum as quickly as possible, it is like the map you took on your hike across the Canadian border through Maine, which was indispensable, then, because miscalculations could set you back tens of miles and you packed no extra supplies (Outward Bound).
Not knowing how to navigate an artwork or art space most efficiently can have dire consequences too, for example: other people may trick you out of your trail mix; what you think is the end may be just the beginning; your gut sense, which knows no true direction, will align itself north-south to the track lighting; you could die.
Sarcastic quippage aside, this talk between Liam Gillick and Hito Steyerl (moderated by Bartholemew Ryan) at the Walker Arts Center traces out a Venn diagram of writing, as it intersects with contemporary art practice, institutional/academic texts, and general discourse. Liam Gillick near the end of the discussion ascribes writing the function of opening doors, or of providing a point of entry into a specific artwork or an artist’s work in general. This is my narrative for Writing, too, and if I look back on the text for my first exhibition, words deliberately swagger side-to-side in an effort to collide with images and ideas present in the paintings themselves, and those brought to the work by each and every viewer.
Flaying an artwork down to its skeleton strips away all identifying characteristics. And then it can no longer speak, or hold out its hand, or even blink. The intention to introduce or inform comes off as pedantic, an attempt to cue-card the viewer’s reactions, with a language that, at points, reads inaccessible in its vocabulary alone. How, then, can we increase flexibility of meaning/experience and avoid turning arthritic?
We’ll take a walk. And pack your swim gear—there’s a lake around these parts. No bears, no chasms in the cliffs, no poison ivy, nothing to worry about, so you can stay off the main path and entirely avoid that eyesore of a marble quarry about a mile in. This is what’s meant by a language of exploration.
FLIP OVER TIME TO OVERTURN THE LINE
70 x 70 cm
oil and charcoal on canvas