A Maker's Understanding: an Archeology
"Painting, in essence, is an aboriginal, creaturely pursuit - more than something exquisite.." - overheard, w / respect.
Large Context: The heavens don't move for art & philosophical contradictions are unavoidable for a supple mind. Small Detail: I must off-load a poignant view concerning the grasping, power-economic setting artists work in. Recognizing the present pathology of the Art World -is a responsible mode of self care and wellbeing in the context. To wit: though screened-off from strict identification behind filtering veils of $-culture-'camo', all of us should guard against art-market-engineered PATHOGENS, "secret-ed" amidst the dispiriting business subtext of Art world conversations that disable trust, and undermine learnable aesthetic competence. Discernment toward honesty & safety, is a valid concern. And for susceptible artists; it is arguably regressive to work in a $-driven style, or ingratiate from a shamelessly popular OR "classical " 'theory' when doing that will so likely diminish the unique envisioning & bringing-about of newly self-fulfilling work, graciously undiminished by market-driven seductions. Despite this, well beyond the market's or the eyes' earnest cravings, to listen well is a transcending commitment that can & does move the previously unmovable, almost everywhere in life. Through art, let us see, listen, and truely hear. Each other.
Merited here is your crucial discernment as to where significant life-defining boundaries lie. My boundaries? By way of a well-chastened optimism, this art is not ABOUT physical things-particular, cloyingly redemptive notions, let alone some "cultural strategy", but about p self-honesty and intellectual courage in a post-religious life, there to protect and transmute a fugitive joy that is yet sustainable in the face of mortality's shy unstoppable wisdom. We work in and against the alienated majesty of ultimate effacement. Art makes courage possible. Here, on offer is only a small diary of markings, little more than a scant record of glimpses of an unspeakable, unprovable magisterium well apart from religion as we have come understand its divisive consequences.
I work at the nexus of image, affect & language. So often resolutely open-ended, abstract Images cause me & many others talk back to them; "What are you and why? What say you & what may I say OF you --- if only to myself? Image, feeling & language are the three realms that a painting emerges from into full presence & eventual significance. The work process begins with noticing available life nourishment in plain sight, the glinting & gloaming around & within us. Painting in the actual moment? By cumulative intuition, I proffer clues and blandishments addressed to my own visual imagination, as encouragement and discipline, simply watching for what emerges from my StrokeWorld Activations. Commencing with renegade suggestions of earthiness OR structure, I assemble Landscape-architectural-INscape image-abstractions, often by series, mostly in oil, or varied appropriate media, on canvas or wood panel, in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Subtle or exaggerated techniques create the tumult, texture and depth over which ordered geometries might prevail in pitched battles between instinct and reason. feeling and ideas.
Plato was deeply puzzled by poetry and painting. The enticing and nettling nature of these art forms is hardly more comforting or agreed-upon today. To add to the mess, here's a current & misleading art-cultural strategy: dynamic unreadability. It's now a long standing art world fiction that offers only laughable, convoluted defenses. Intentional dynamic unreadability offers no invitation, and yields only a sense of chaos, Parsing Plato's complex exasperation, a so-called artist's twisted "contemporary" creed might include: "don't Ask, DON'T TELL, don't explain, & don't complain". Apposing any such hermeticism is this: there exists a neural bridge between a maker's values, commitments, state of mind, and the constellated meanings that abstract images convey apart from a mere vision-only list of appearances, features, and means. The bridging connection is brought about by the artists commitment to fully attentive living. Work conceived and brought about in a life of such commitment is not about intended message-sending per se, but about conveying an individual, affective view of LifePossibility, out of which value and human bonds may be enacted. Such work conveys a multi-modal outlook, revealing circular movement -with credible agency- over and back across the presumptive image-language threshold. Speaking in silence, paintings are not silent. Paintings are musically charged with the life presence of the maker. Paintings bring into view the symbol-chemistry of the maker's personal language world, along with the emotions of an inner auditory enquiry. Abstract paintings convey a trans-visual missive about the ever-possible creation of new and richer meaning from a single mind, to an interested community at large. And neither do abstract works involve a mere Rorschach test. Abstract paintings often make precise demands, and defy casual analysis -on purpose. Demanding Art offers a handle enabling us to investigate, disclose and critique social presumtive meaning clusters floating around us. Artists ask the urgent question of awakening: have you? Abstract Images have specific often contgentious yet describable energy profiles, that (don't "depict" but ) enunciate a maker's cultural intentions. Abstract paintings ASK, make proposals, and argue for various types of cultural status. and social prescience . Paintings assert arguments as visual structure. Paintings provide organized evidence of existential discernment and intentionality. Abstract art swell conveys the makers procedural intelligence, engages in subversion, even denial. Paintings coax, proffer pixy dust, & demur. Many works charm, plead & insinuate, and provoke consequential affective language events in the mind, as a viewer naturally tries to memorialize a personal experience of the learnable ineffable.
With a widening of said emotional aperture, an artist's temerity or tenderness -however coded- will eventually be readable to many. In time, non-objective painting speaks both in & of words inside the mind, as when a real wine becomes a startling shape -noticeably beyond a flavor in the mouth. As they focus, eyes hungrily race a painting's surface, ~~ trans-kinetically ~~ hearing the close-at-hand murmur, or the distant chimes of shape-speak and color-speak. (Though, at last, if cross-modal connections do obtain for many committed viewers, high definition & persuasive accountability may well remain elusive to merely curious others. At last, Art is transplendant, deliciously enigmatic, as we are - even to ourselves, despite the torrent of words deployed in our non-stop efforts to convey to others our own precious though marginal self understanding.)
So then, apart from cross-modal accomplishments, when & if they're occasionally recognizable, I paint to be re-vivified my great hidden self -apart from my predictably deterministic moods, and familiar set points. Then- I encounter what my own interconnected language-image experiences might really amount to, by way of a personal, configurative morphology, its signature -- strong from a family lineage of three dimensional travails as an architect. In my current labors I undergo some kind of discomfiting birthing to deliver a true configured presence with its own life force and something of a will apart from mine. With all, I aggregate promising ingredients to iterate the possibility of an imaginative, supple infrastructure to align my various sensations and impulses toward ideas-into-insight-figurations of nourishment that speak back to me, as to what I may let go of & what I must presently act on, to contribute & prevail in the face of countervailing culture and life conditions everywhere emerging; thereby negotiating alliances between my several inner family-kingdoms. This practice is finally about self-organization toward self unity: the irreducible enterprise.
(Beyond the personal, what aesthetic biodiversity, what (suspiciously neo-sacred) LifeConcern does this art enunciate in its lightly veiled supplications? What concern above all others? It is the ultimate concern for -the child named Fragility: our world-family's future; Art IS to enfold and nourish her with everything we've got. ( I meditate here on all the art tribes who love more wisely & passionately than I do.) Surely helped by invisible hands, my concepts develop, pirouette, and come to life in a luminous iconic framework of traditions & un-mappable possibilities, territories of immanence. I work in a way that might find my visceral world-view buoyed-up and outward on a continuum of appreciation regarding the many wonders of doing with (out): to wit, the Scotts -their rough though bankable tweeds & tartans, the Italians -their parochial cooking and futuristic design, the Irish -their language and global music, the Japanese -their energetically symbolic "repaired" tea bowls, their proudly poignant sense of beauty-imperfect, the Jews their apprehension of enduring possibility in the midst of unending threat, & the majestic bitterly conflicted original-life-force that is Africa -in the face of Islam , -and on-and-on. Anxious, grateful, & exhilarated then, in a nature-toned or brighter palette, looking -by turns inward and outward in every direction, I slowly layer, mark, and excavate surfaces to quietly enact a private archeology of intentional living within well-considered life limits. While conscious of unavoidable illusions, and projects wisely avoided, I pan for stoney accretions of usable discernment in and beyond our collective life-world of art making, reckoning with visual metaphors which hint that meaning and value surprisingly evolve, among other sources, from our common-wealth of illuminating mis-apprehensions about the allure of "purpose"-earned self knowing. I persist, because in part I'm vivified by the astonishing insights from science concerning the buzzing attraction of clay to starlight .
In bright mystery comes the instant of doing. The hand in adventure / moves, wisely unknowing / the many things / it knows. Of art in the actual moment of, I regard innocent trust with deep professional respect. Then ...in the spirit of the poet Randall Jarrell I repeatedly re-discover -with astonishment- that long
“Imprinted upon me/ is the shape I run to, the sweet strange colors / the breath-taking contours that breathe to me: “ I am yours / be mine!” .
At last, for this maker, image and word are distinct & ONE - a wave... just-at-landfall. Words beget & accompany images / images beget& accompany words. I find it "true" only on the surface of understanding that non-objective art emerges from a separate realm - a matrix of visual poetics at an unbridgeable distance from an artist's thought, speech and writing. No. Conversely, this art astonishes -not as some kind of lonely yet bounded meaning 'transcript'- but as pure encompassing affect, spoken within, enunciated, loudly heard in winter: a realm where feelings have their significance apart from worldly dealing, in images of music lived, Art is immanent, having its meaning apart from any outside qualifications, by its truth --"unreal" but sustaining. The poet encounters his white horses there, the doctor her love in the presence of suffering. In this setting, as in all my reflections on Keats' 'Negative Capability', I sense the warm breathing of unnamable affinities peopling my own place of art-meaning, among which I willfully ruminate that my visual works are ~~ trans-kinetically' ~~ enlivened by a sparkling frisson, having marinated in an amniotic language broth, and are then birthed interdependently from the same mind, during periods graciously out of normal time when I certainly was, and may yet again be fully present to "the summer lightening of human happiness" / my own. And perhaps yours. *