Art Making

You are currently browsing the archive for the Art Making category.

install10

Clew: A Rich and Rewarding Disorientation, opens at the Lamont Gallery in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Friday, January 20. This is the completion of an 18 month long exploration of ideas with collaborators Todd Hearon, Jung Mi Lee, Lauren O’Neal and Jon Sakata.

I don’t think any of us imagined that this would culminate in a project that is an uncanny counterpoint to the current political landscape in America. (Disorientation can come in many forms after all.) Our collective invitation is an anti-inauguration moment where the disruptive powers of sound, words and images create a nonlinear journey into the unexpected that is playful, provocative and memorable.

In addition to our stated intention, we have also incorporated a number of other concepts that feed into creating a “rich and rewarding disorientation:”

Viscosity: What happens when navigation and comprehension become difficult?

Hyperobjects: How do we suggest constructs that are too large and complex for humans to fully comprehend? (More about Timothy Morgan‘s concept of hyperobjects here)

Dismantling: How can preconceived expectations—about labyrinths, predetermined paths, inter alia—be broken down? (In Jon Sakata’s memorable challenge, “How to dismantle a sacrosanct solutionism to one’s problems by following ‘the’ way.”)

Our focus, like these installation photos, has been on the detailed, close in view. From these parts—made from building blocks of the visual, language and sound—the larger conceptual arcs are being constructed, all coming together by the opening at the end of the week.

Clew: A Rich and Rewarding Orientation
January 20 – April 15, 2017
Opening reception: Friday, January 20, 5-7pm
Lamont Gallery
Phillips Exeter Academy
11 Tan Lane
Exeter New Hampshire
603.777.3461

install8

install6

install2

install9

install3

install12

install14

install13

install17

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: ,

sienarothkos1
My granddaughter Siena drawing in the Rothko room at the newly opened East Building of the National Gallery, Washington DC (Photo: Mona Wilcox)

We have to help each other. That may sound trite, but it has come to mean a lot more to me over the last dark weeks. When my spirits flagged, I have been helped by friends and strangers with the steady flow of digitally-delivered wisdom.

One post by writer Chuck Wendig (his blog is Terrible Minds) arrived at just at the right moment:

What I mean is this: if you’re a person who Makes Art, then that’s who you are, and there’s nothing precious or small about that…Art is vital, and as such, the artist is vital for making it. Part of the goal of the chaos going on is to put a rope around your wrists, your throat, and your heart and try to stop you from making cool stuff. It’s designed to hamstring you creatively and critically. You can’t let that happen. You gotta carry on. You gotta do the work. YOU GOTTA MAKE THE THINGS.

Wendig went on to list ten things for every maker to keep in mind. These are simple statements, but they are solid. (For more details on each, go to the post, How to Create Art and Make Cool Stuff in a Time of Trouble.)

1. IT’S OKAY IF YOUR OUTPUT SLOWS

2. IT’S NOT OKAY TO STOP ENTIRELY

3. THE TOOLS OF ART ARE YOUR WEAPONS

4. ART CAN ALSO BE YOUR ESCAPE

5. SHUT IT ALL OFF FOR A WHILE

6. CONSUME ART GREEDILY IN GREAT, HEAVING GULPS

7. REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE

8. PRACTICE SELF-CARE

9. MAKE A CHANGE

10. YOU MATTER, THIS MATTERS, YOU CAN DO IT

Here’s one more shout out. My friend, poet Fanny Howe, is interviewed in the latest issue of The Paris Review. She discusses her new collection of essays, The Needle’s Eye, and she shares her worthy and wise Fannyisms.

When asked about “the value of poetry in such a brutal world,” Fanny is ready with her response:

You’d have to ask that about all the arts. They lift everyone up. If you ask what good is music you’d say it’s an absurd question. Poetry is innate. You can’t not have poetry if you want to have a whole human being. I heard a Brazilian man at a party say, I hate going to poetry readings but my brain loves hearing it.

A student asks a poignant question: “What do you do if you have no belief?” Fanny’s answer is right in line with what I have come to know:

There are always the arts and they are just as good as reading theology with belief. I feel that the person making the art and the person seeing the art are engaged in a transcendent experience.

So here’s to being whole human beings, to participating in transcendent experiences, to sharing our wisdom with each other. Onward my friends.

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: ,

salcedo1
From Doris Salcedo’s Disremembered series. These sculptures are made with raw silk threads interspersed with more than 12,000 tiny, blackened needles. “Handwoven thread by thread and needle by needle, each delicately beautiful but menacing garment embodies a painstaking gesture of mourning.”

salcedo2
(Detail)

I’m not the only one stymied. Many of us are struggling with we how to manage the interior and the exterior: Defending the sovereignty of creativity (and its nursery-like need for quiet) while navigating a toxic political landscape from which no citizen of the earth should step away. This battle has become a difficult daily exercise for me. I care about both domains, but they are not amicable bedfellows.

Some artists can combine these concerns in their work. Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo‘s exhibit at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, The Materiality of Mourning, is a powerful statement about the victims of political violence and war. Her work is a muscular critique of oppression by way of works that possess an extraordinary delicacy and vulnerability.

But many of us work in a non-representational manner that, by design, lives outside a prescribed narrative or response. The political and the personal don’t cohabit for us as they can in Salcedo’s work.

Poet Charles Simic‘s latest collections of essays, The Life of Images, offers some help in managing this conundrum. Born in Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia, he grew up in a world at war. “Being one of the millions of displaced persons made an impression on me. In addition to my own little story of bad luck, I heard plenty of others. I’m still amazed by all the vileness and stupidity I witnessed in my life.” Simic has deep credentials as a poet and a survivor of political violence.

In one of the essays in the book, “In Praise of Invective,” he addresses the essential tension between the body politic and the interior domain:

At the end of a murderous century, let’s curse the enemies of the individual.

Every modern ideologue and thought policeman continues to say that the private is political, that there is no such thing as an autonomous self, and if there is, for the sake of common good it is not desirable to have one…Orthodoxy, groupthink, virtue by decree are the ideals of every religion and every utopian model of society…Ideologies from nationalism to racism are not really about ideas; they’re revivalists’ tents offering a chance to the righteous to enjoy their sense of superiority. “We will find eternal happiness and harmony by sacrificing the individual,” every congregation of the faithful continues to rhapsodize.

He goes on to bring his fierce defense of the individual into the sphere of art making:

Historical experience has taught me to be wary of any manifestation of collectivism…Young poets and painters do associate and influence each other and partake of the same zeitgeist, but despite these obvious truths, what literature worth anything is written by a group? Has any genuine artist ever thought of himself or herself exclusively as a part of a movement? Is anyone seriously a postmodernist, whatever that is?

I don’t find systems congenial. My aesthetic says that the poet is true because he or she cannot be labeled. It is the irreducible uniqueness of each life that is worth honoring and defending.

It is easy to take an artist’s deferment from political action. That’s not the answer, and Simic’s life is a model that informs my own. Like him, I don’t find systems “congenial.” But being a witness and taking action against oppression are not in violation of my devotion to the inchoate inner life that is my work. How this plays out is a work in progress, like so much else in life.

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , ,

Benedictions

2015-04-27-sallymann-635-jpg-optimal
Sally Mann (Photo: Liz Liguori)

Finding fully immersive distractions to defend against the relentlessly ugly political news has become a daily ritual. Like so many others, I go out each day in search of sustenance in a landscape that has been ravaged by the locusts of lies, hatred and distrust. Protecting the inner landscape and keeping it moist has become an epic task during this season of my greatest struggle with EAD (see below.)

Books, good ones, work better than just about anything.

Thank you to Sally Mann for her completely captivating memoir, Hold Still. My copy is margin marked as I encounter her artistic insights and understandings. She is a masterful photographer, writer and observer.

For example here’s some of her wisdom about that inevitable process every maker knows about: You have one lucky break—a great painting or photograph or poem emerges out of nowhere. That success brings on a “cocky confidence,” but the next attempts all fail. On cue, the voices of doubt and despair appear and suggest you just give up. They tell you that you have made all the good works you can and that you have nothing more to say.

Mann shares her experience:

That voice is easy to believe…it leaves me with only two choices: I can resume the slog and take more pictures, thereby risking further failure and despair, or I can guarantee failure and despair by not making more pictures. It’s essentially a decision between uncertainty and certainty and, curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.

So you soldier on, with just enough good outcomes to keep you going. Soon new work appears, and with it comes the disempowering of the older work. So the struggle continues.

Others looking in from the outside don’t understand how this works and how this feels.

How can they understand the paralyzing, dry-well fear I live with from one good picture to the impossible next? Who can know the agony of tamped-down hope between the shutter’s release and the image in the developer? Or the reckless joy when I realize that, at last, I have a good one; eagerly, my ebbing confidence throws off the winding-sheet and resumes business at the old headquarters, a wondrous resurrection.

But of course, it is also a fleeting one. It lasts about as long as the exquisite apex of a wave and, just as the wave takes the sand castle, it sucks my confidence out with it as it recedes. In its wake, it leaves the freshly exposed reminder that, however good that last image was, the next picture must be better. Each good new picture always holds despair within it, for it raises the ante for the ones that follow…

I practice my skills despite repeated failures and self-doubt so profound it can masquerade outwardly as conceit. It’s not heroic in any way. To the contrary, it’s plodding, obdurate effort. I make bad picture after bad picture week after week until the relief comes: the good new picture that offers benediction.

So here’s to those who slog through to get to those good new pictures, paintings, plays, poems, music. And here’s to the slogging we also have ahead of us in repairing a political landscape drained of compassion, empathy and collaboration. Taking some wisdom from Mann, it isn’t heroic but a plodding, obdurate effort that hopefully brings about a benediction.

_____
*EAD: Election Addiction Disorder. Thank you to my friend, psychiatrist Harvey Roy Greenberg, for sharing his wickedly funny, DSM-ready description of the epidemic that overtook so many of us these last few months.

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , , ,

pfaffprimo
Judy Pfaff at Wheaton College

Judy Pfaff is an artist’s artist. Perhaps I should be more specific and say she is my kind of artist’s artist. And “my kind of artist” is a much bigger category than me and my friends. Legions of us have followed her for years, and we keep being compelled, enthralled, delighted and at times left speechless by the stamina of this woman who is part whirling dervish and part postmodern alchemist. There’s no flagging or slowing down with this one. Great work just keeps coming from this timeless, energetic and passionate artist.

If you are in the Boston area, you have a chance to see a spectacular selection of her work at Wheaton College in Norton: Judy Pfaff: Drawing Thick and Thin.

This show is full of those Pfaffian marvels—exploding images and colors in every shape and size, natural elements such as leaves and branches alongside industrial materials including foam and flexible ducting, plastic that has been made to look like molten glass, wall colors individualized for specific pieces, cut outs and mark making that force the two dimensional into three, backdrops constructed from photographs and images, creating a veritable cornucopia of images in lively juxtaposition. The joy of making, looking, discovery—this whole show is an unabashed celebration of just being alive.

I’ve written about Pfaff many times on Slow Muse. In an interview with Constance Lewallen published by Crown Point Press a few years ago, Pfaff had words that are still feel relevant and meaningful to this current show as well as the larger arena of art making that is coming from a like-minded place:

Lewallen: [Your] work is not ironic as so much of the work being shown today, in which the artist is the art critic as well…You once said to me that a positive way of looking at this phenomenon is that now artists have created another arena for themselves–they can be critics, they can be businessmen.

Pfaff: When I am in a generous mood I think that. But often I think it is very depressing that the whole art world seems to demonstrate that attitude now—cool, detached, competent. I think one of the things about being an artist is that you should be allowed to test murky, unclear, unsure territory or all you have left are substitutes that signify these positions. Having it all together is the least interesting thing in art, in being alive.

Lewallen: Someone once wrote that your work deals with art at the fringes of confusion of life itself.

Pfaff: I like that.

I spent two hours in the gallery today, and I hope I can return again. I’ve posted a slew of images below, many of them detailed views, that speak to the extraordinary richness of Pfaff’s multidimensional explorations into the “murky, unclear and unsure territory” that is her art making.

The show runs through November 11. Kudos to Gallery Director Michele L’Heureux for making this exhibit happen. For more information about the exhibit, click here.

pfaff1

pfaffinstall1

pfaff2

pfaff3

pfaff4

pfaff5

pfaff6

pfaff9

pfaff10

pfaff11

pfaff12

pfaff13

pfaff14

pfaff15

pfaff16

pfaff18

pfaff19

pfaffinstall5

pfaff20

pfaff21

pfaff22

pfaffinstall2

pfaffinstall3

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , , ,

dew2
Edmund de Waal, detail, Princeton Museum

Continuing with themes inspired by Edmund de Waal in his latest book, The White Road

In a profile of de Waal that appeared in the New York Times, Sam Anderson describes de Waal as an evangelist of touch. “Thinking is through the hands as well as the head,” de Waal has said.

De Waal worries that modern humans are beginning to lose our fluency in touch. He thinks that we live in a world impoverished by a lack of attention to tactility. Our culture has a deeply embedded shame of the body, shame of skin, shame of “mere” sensation—a desire to transcend the animal coarseness of nerves, hair, blood flow. To live in clean, noble abstractions: things that we think will last. All of our digital technology, all of these portable virtual worlds, only make it easier to live in touchlessness. If you put on virtual-reality goggles, there will be plenty to look at and pretend to touch, but nothing to actually feel. But touch, de Waal insists, is fundamental to the human experience. If we can’t fully inhabit and value the world of touchable objects, de Waal told me, then we can’t fully value other human beings.

The power of objects to connect us with our living, breathing bodies and selves is not trivial. Even if we don’t pick up one of de Waal’s fragile vessels, its made by handedness is so essential to its essence. We can see how it came into being, how a human shepherded it into existence, step by step.

Paintings and sculpture may not be designed with the same implicit suggestion of being held in the hand, but they also, like de Waal’s vessels, can claim a very personal, very human etiology. Sarah Sze‘s installation, Timekeeper, currently on view at the Rose Art Museum, speaks to the suggestion of high touch, yet another form of touchability. Meticulously intricate and outrageously eclectic, this signatory Sze creation sits in the center of a very large gallery, whirring and “breathing” as you enter the space. Constructed from torn sheets of paper, photos, mirror shards, text, embedded LEDs, projections, reflections off the surface of water, multilayered mini-scaffolding, Timekeeper speak to how Sze “blurs the line between organic and mechanical structure.”

From the curatorial statement:

Timekeeper has no relationship to the mechanical devices we use to mark the literal passing of time, but instead to the way we recall and replay our lives, in selected fragments that, strung together, account for the passage of years. Timekeeper may not keep the time, but it keeps our time.

While very different in spirit and form from de Waal’s ever growing tribe of tiny pinch pots, Timekeeper feels human-sourced, made by hand. It too claims its place in the celebration of the power of thingness and of touch.

Installation views of Timekeeper by Sarah Sze, at the Rose Art Museum:

ss3

ss1

ss2

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , , , ,

dewaal
Edmund de Waal installation currently on view at the Princeton Museum

With the publication and international success of his family memoir, The Hare With Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal became a literary sensation before many knew he was, first and foremost, an artist whose specialty is ceramics. Notoriety tends to spills over, and soon his artistic efforts were being heralded as well. In 2013 an installation of his work was featured at Gagosian Gallery in New York.

Not everyone was a fan of that show. New York Times’ Roberta Smith was dismissive (“Time spent with Mr. de Waal’s work can teach a lot about the nuances of ceramics, but his work is ostentatiously precious and ultimately naïve”.) I was moved by the energy of his intentions, but I did have mixed feelings about such quiet, contemplative work being displayed in an environment like Gagosian where the high pitched din of art commodification drowns out the subtle registers.

While the context did seem wrong to me, so many other things about de Waal’s approach seemed right. In an interview with Iain Millar, de Waal speaks in a way that feel very aligned with my views:

One of the really interesting things in contemporary art is about the loss of time. The process is neutral, it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, but long looking and long making do something different from short looking and short making.

He also addresses his discomfort when the making and the selling are too closely aligned, and more boldly, of his dislike of art fairs:

Millar: I was wondering what would bring you out in hives again.

de Waal: When I discovered that I don’t agree with art fairs, that an artist going to art fairs make me ill…

Millar: You’re a refusnik?

de Waal: The brutality and the commodification of what you’ve just done is just too total for me. I’m English enough to enjoy that separation. I like making stuff, talking about how it’s going to be curated and then finding out later about whether someone’s bought it or not. That interim process of seeing it being sold is a bit of a shock.

It may be that de Waal’s work exists outside the familiar categories, and naive is the easiest way to describe that mismatch. Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum said of him, “He doesn’t fit into a niche, and that’s his strength. He’s not copying 18th-century or ancient Asian porcelain. His work is completely modern, but it is steeped in a great knowledge of history.”

Apropos to that blend of the modern and the historial, de Waal published a second book, The White Road: Journey Into An Obsession, in 2015. In this volume de Waal shares his lifelong passion for his preferred medium, porcelain. The book is, inter alia, a fascinating chronicle of his journeys to the “white hills” where porcelain is found. His first stop is to the belly button of porcelain production, Jingdezhen, China. He subsequently travels to other “white hill” locations in Germany, England and America, moving easily from historical narratives to accounts of his very personal experiences of looking, making and connecting with objects.

It is his devotion to the power of things that most connects me with de Waal. “Thingness” and how we can sense their power have been running themes on Slow Muse*, and de Waal’s The White Road is in line with so many of my experiences:

I hear objects. With objects it is possible not only to sound them, name them and make sense of them through language, but hear their kinship with words themselves. Some things feel like nouns, words with physicality, shape and weight. They have a self-contained quality, a sense that you could put them down and they would displace the same amount of the world around them. Other objects are verbs and are in flux. But when I see them I hear them. A stack of bowls is a chord.

de Waal has described his work by saying, “It’s patently sculpture of a kind, it talks to architecture I hope, it’s very much rooted in poetry and music, it’s pottery at a very real level.” This book, like his work, has many tracks that all come together to make it a memorable and provocative read.

dew2
_______
* For more posts that explore the concept of thingness, click here.

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , ,

DWDick
My partner Dave having a moment with Richard Diebenkorn at the Cantor Center, Stanford University

When asked for advice about how to navigate the visual art space, I increasingly say that for most of us, it is just DIY. The old atelier model of “I make the art and someone else sells it” is gone for all but the .01% of us. As one friend—a full time artist who has been successful at exhibiting and selling her work through multiple channels—tells her art students, “I have 15 different jobs in addition to being an artist, from marketing manager to bookkeeper, from carpenter to project manager.”

It isn’t just visual arts marketing that has changed over the last 10 years. Many of my friends who write and compose also talk that way. The creative arts promotional support systems that were once de rigeur have morphed into something else or have disappeared altogether, like the once ubiquitous publisher-sponsored author book launch and media tour.

As a result, creatives have to learn new skills, many of them business-oriented. When younger artists ask me for career advice I encourage them to see themselves as an artist and an entrepreneur. You make art, that’s first and foremost. But you also run a business. It’s a start up. And like most start ups, it is probably underfunded.

Many books have appeared recently with a similar message. The advice now is plentiful about the practical aspects of art making, going well beyond just studio techniques or gallery representation.

What has also emerged from this increased blending of business and the arts is the other side of that same coin. Business practices increasingly incorporate art making skills to improve product development, increase corporate creativity and stimulate innovation strategies. Along that same trajectory, a number of business schools have partnered recently with art and design schools to increase creative thinking in MBA students.

Two books released this year speak to that “art informs business” side of the coin. Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life is by Amy E. Herman. An art history graduate who went on to become an attorney, Herman returned to her primal love of visual art by creating a course that uses fine art to help first responders, doctors and other professionals increase their skills of perception. Offered through the Frick Museum in New York, her course became so successful that she captured her course content in a thoughtful and useful book.

It is sometimes easy for artists to forget that a visual orientation is similar to being born with musical talent: Some just have it, and others have to learn it from the beginning. Herman’s book brings those valuable artist-centric perceptual skills closer to people whose work lies outside the creative fields. She makes useful distinctions, like the difference between observation and perception. (Observation is the auditing of detail and is objective. Perception is how we interpret what we observe and therefore subjective. It is easy to confuse the two, and our observation skills improve when we know what alters our perceptions.) Her reliance on art to build visual acuity is a valuable aspect of her transformative work.

Another book is Art Thinking: How to Carve Out Creative Space in a World of Schedules, Budgets, and Bosses, by Amy Whitaker. Whitaker is an exceptionally credentialed go between. With an MBA as well as an MFA in painting, she speaks fluently in the languages of both business and art.

Whitaker’s book is essentially a business book, peppered with the business case studies that business book readers expect. But her ideas and approach are different from the many books on corporate innovation and creativity that I have read. Her aim is more personal, providing a set of constructs that can assist anyone—inside a corporate setting or on their own—as they embark on a new project. She advocates for many of the skills and approaches that artists will recognize. However as familiar as these approaches are to artists like me, I was inspired by how she codified her content into useful form. Her chapter titles give you a sense: From a Wide Angle; In the Weeds; To the Lighthouse; Make a Boat; To Be in the Fray; To Build a House; To See the Whole.

Here are a few samples of her ability to speak to both audiences.

To adapt a definition from Heidegger:
A work of art is something new in the world that changes the world to allow itself to exist.

Traditionally defined, art itself has a long history of scrambling the idea of efficiency. Ever since the invention of photography, making a painting at all is an act of willful inefficiency.

You need to develop habits of what I will call “studio time”—ways of setting aside empty space in the landscape of your life. Paradoxically, in order to fully access these advantages, you may need to relax your hold on goal completion and efficiency enough to even feel like you’re wasting time.

Creativity as a process only has traction with the present moment.

When I teach business to artists, I often tell them that they are asked to be generous, to put something out there before they get something back. Creative work in any field asks you to risk offering something first.

That moment of pause represents the act of being and not doing. It represents seeing and accepting things as they are, even if the reality isn’t great. That pause creates a stability and openness from which creative flexibility can develop, helping you to access your fuller capacity while not yet knowing exactly where you are going.

We create our lives, we build our workplaces, we design our society, we make our world. Art thinking is the process and business is the medium.

On a more personal level, I have seen a similar blending of business and art making when I look at my relationship with my partner Dave. He was a fresh MBA grad when I met him 37 years ago. We have spent those years teaching each other what we each know how to do, and his practices are now so much closer to mine in the studio than what they were all those years ago. I think we both do our work better for mixing things up, and Whitaker’s book is a good reminder of how valuable that cross pollination can be.

  • Share on Tumblr

07_jamuna
Jamuna, pure pigment on canvas, by Natvar Bhavsar (Image: Asianart.com)

Political language is a tongue, one that is optimally designed to infiltrate both thinking and feeling at the same time. Sarah Hurwitz, speechwriter for Michelle Obama, is a master at getting words to work at all those levels at the same time. Oratory brilliance takes me straight to awe.

Writing about art is strangely similar. When done well it speaks to our cerebral consciousness as well as our emotions, those often inchoate feelings that reside somewhere in our bodies other than our brains. The best writers about art, like the best orators, know how to hit all those spots.

I wish I had those skills. I am a visualizer with a huge crush on verbal language done well, so I catalog more words than I create. This blog is a compendium of my favorite passages, the ones that have achieved that thinking/feeling connection.

Some artists can do both the visual and the verbal well. Here for example is a description of Natvar Bhavsar, an artist I admire, by the cultural cultural historian Marius Kwint:

To listen to him is to be struck by the poetic authority of his language. One is instantly brought into a world of absolute precision and infinite expanse…His speech is as much an art as his painting. His phrases are as original as the aggregations of color on his canvases, his verbal faculties no doubt honed by the fact that his art pretends to no linguistic sophistication but plays only to the foundations of our sensory-cognitive apparatuses. Bhavsar confesses to a “certain Romantic affliction with words.”

In his interview with Bhavsar, Kwint elicits this lovely passage from Bhavsar:

We have been given a very special place to understand things larger than ourselves, all the time, intuitively sometimes, and sometimes through exertion. Buddha, for example, went through all kinds of processes—hunger, torture, everything—to get knowledge, and finally decided that those were not the paths by which he could be enlightened. So he adopted the path of life, and concluded that wisdom and Enlightenment are not based on staying away from reality but on staying very close to reality and, at the same time, trying to understand it. The depths of knowledge and the depths of perseverance, and character-building—these are essential aspects of any creative process, where you submerge yourself to understand something, and not worry about the historical footnotes.

From the same monograph, Irving Sandler makes this point:

Bhavsar is attracted to pure pigment because of its physicality, and the way in which it makes color, or rather color/pigment, physical. But Bhavsar believes that the materiality can also be transmaterial or spiritual. In the West, matter and spirit are generally viewed as incompatible. But not in India.

As a way of bringing this discussion back to the political from where it began, Sandler ends his essay with this poignant claim:

Bhavsar has dealt with an issue summed up by Geeta Kapur. “The classical civilizations of the Asian region hold out a continuing lure for the transcendental. In the matrix of Asian cultures, the metaphysical is a vexed category on account of the more recent secular convictions; this is precisely a matter for an aesthetic avant-garde to tackle.” In a world wracked by national conflicts, racism, genocide, famine, pollution, ecological devastation and crime, Bhavsar’s painting is an oasis of contemplation in which alienation, desperation, despondency, rage, and other psychic wounds can be calmed, a state of repose necessary to human being.

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , ,

Kellbeach
A solitary figure walking through an empty landscape. That feels like a good description of what this month has felt like to me.
(My daughter Kellin, walking the beach at Duxbury a few years ago)

Years of solitude had taught him that, in one’s memory, all days tend to be the same, but that there is not a day, not even in jail or in the hospital, which does not bring surprises, which is not a translucent network of minimal surprises.

Jorge Luis Borges

 

The invisible, although it keeps itself hidden, makes itself felt. I cannot see the people I love as I write this, but I can sense their pull, and I act as I do because of their existence. Taken literally, that is how the cosmos works. An invisible mass alters the orbit of a comet; dark energy affects the acceleration of a supernova; the earth’s magnetic field tugs on birds, butterflies, sea turtles, and the compasses of mariners. The whole realm of the visible is compelled by the invisible. Our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, our universe: all of it, all of us, are pushed, pulled, spun, shifted, set in motion, and held together by what we cannot see.

Kathryn Schulz

 

What we overlook is that underneath the ground of our beliefs, opinions, and concepts is a boundless sea of uncertainty. The concepts we cling to are like tiny boats tossed about in the middle of the vast ocean. We stand on our beliefs and ideas thinking they’re solid, but in fact, they (and we) are on shifting seas.

Steve Hagen

 

An image is a stop the mind makes between uncertainties.

Djuna Barnes

 

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Art’s true power comes from its ability to surprise, to turn down unexpected paths, sometimes despite the protests of the artist creating the work. These moments of revelation, which can be charged with fear and exultation, are the lynchpins of all artistic experience and the source of its value. The only path I have found to these moments of inspiration is the hard work of putting the first mark down, then the next.

Stan Berning

 

I’m heads down in the studio this month. These quotes expose—and relish—the importance of surprise, the unknown and the power of uncertainty. Helpful reminders all to staying open and humble.

I hope to be more fluent with my own words next month. That’s the idea anyway!

  • Share on Tumblr

Tags: , ,

« Older entries