Saturday, January 01, 2011

on Process

Figurative painting, came first--then abstract. Now we have figurative-abstract fusion like Miles Davis’ jazz fusion –a blend of jazz and rock. There has always been figurative-abstract fusion, going back to Turner with his mature work of storms fire and vague buildings in the background. Turner was the daddy of figurative-abstract fusion painting. Probably, we next see it in Picasso’s cubism. The Dames ’d Avignon was certainly both abstract and figurative, as was all the ensuing cubist painting. After cubism, lots of artists –fauvists, German expressionists, Klee, Kandinsky -- had figuration and abstraction. All figurative painting, even the old masters, had an abstract base-- concern with color line value composition, etc. Some painters took those concerns and turned them into the subject matter and came up with entire abstract painting –first Kandinsky, with his improvisations-and later the abstract expressionists. Gorky, who painted a little before the abstract expressionists, combined subliminal imagery with lyrical color. So he was a figurative abstract fusionist. So was DeKooning, with his women’s series. Now I’m jumping ahead a few decades. I’ve been interested for the last 30 years in merging the abstract with the figurative, and I think I can finally do it. I have seen others do it-George Reuter from Akron, and others here and there. It seems to be a logical progression, on the one hand, and on the other hand, its roots have always been around. It’s nothing new- or is it?

Controlled randomness-- like in a Degas where the figures (dancers) are arranged in what seems to be a sort of randomness, but the composition is still very much controlled. There’s randomness in nature, like the trajectory of an electron being somewhat unpredictable, or the element of chance in natural selection--evolution. There is some chance in my drawings when I put white acrylic over grey chalk and charcoal and end up in a fit of pique, slashing the white with more charcoal, and finish up with a texture and a degree of dark- light that works well with the whole drawing. That moment of chance is stored as experience that will show up in future drawings, I hope.

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