Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I could make it all worthwhile as a rock n' roll star

David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust

My drawings lately are turning out to be still lifes. WTF. How not to push the envelope. How not to be now. How fuddy. How duddy.
My pressure is to include something slightly ironic. Or kitsch. Something tongue and cheek. But only in a back-handed way so it doesn't come off as intentionally ironic or kitsch. Because then it’s ok to be those things. Because I want to be cool. I guess that’s the word. What am I, in middle school?
I don’t know: a box of condoms, a book with an approved title, a cut of meat. When I put it this it way, I think I’ll stick with the bottles.  
Once I heard Guston say that if you don’t experience something in making the painting, it’s not done. I get that. I’m afraid I’m making work that looks like art, but that is just fooling me.
I want to make a drawing that reads like Savage Detectives by Roberto BolaƱos or sounds like David Bowie's “Starman.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Wreck of Hope

Caspar David Friedrich, The Wreck of Hope, 1821

Sometimes I come across concise takes on existential questions that bring great relief. This week I was graced by two.
First: I’ve always worried about being judgmental because nice, good people aren’t judgmental. Nice, good people are open-hearted and self-effacing. This week I absorbed the idea that you can be judgmental and compassionate at the same time. You can think a person sucks and also listen to – and maybe be swayed by – where she’s at.
The second take comes from Betsy Lerner, who writes the only blog I look forward to (link below). I had planned to write a post considering how and especially why (the fuck) do I keep going with the art shit when there’s so much rejection, so much competition, so much pukiness involved. Why do I keep adding to my stack of drawings. Is it because it’s all about the work? Is it because I’m nobly engaged in a process and journey? Partially.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Heaven and Hell

Doug Aitken

I did enjoy Frieze, I really did. The ferry was great and the spaciousness inside the tent made all the difference. And I did see lots that was stimulating.
I mean stimulating in the sense that it awakened my senses. That’s a first for me at a fair. But I also mean stimulating in the sense that it felt good. Art is an addiction. Once you’ve had a hit, you want more, and more, and more. Red flag.
Holland Cotter has it right. There’s something to distrust about it all. Something that’s tied up with the sheer quantity, but also with the blue-chip-ness, the luxury-ness. The one percent-ness. I want to sweep these contradictions under the rug.
I want my art curated. I want my crowds weeded out. I want to see some black teenagers. I don't want street art. I want some Barkcloths from New Guinea. I want my Fat Radish. I don’t want frozen turkey sandwiches union regulations allow. I don’t want a gift shop unless the gift shop are art books only, publications that can’t make any money. Then I want to take a boat that runs on time to arrive home and call it an enriching day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


(Henri Matisse, The Painter’s Family, 1911)
I’ve always used the word “decorative” as a pejorative when describing a work of art: to me it has meant pretty-to-the-eye, but without further depth. Synonyms in my mind – equally pejorative – have been superficial, even artificial. That’s why I’ve always tripped on reading “decorative” in writings by and about Matisse. He’s a hero, and none of my heroes are shallow. So what gives?
It may be that a more accurate way to understand the word is as “on the surface.” “On the surface” acknowledges that in drawing and painting, the artist is physically dealing with a flat plane (the canvas or sheet of paper). Turning this flatness into dimensional space – into “realism” – is valued as skilled and serious. It is valued as depth spatially, but also morally in Western art. But spatial depth on a flat plane is an illusion. What’s more, we don’t really see the world like realism. We see it in bits and pieces, probably more like Cubism than a photograph.
Through surface, Matisse takes on the plane as a plane with multiple areas. It may in fact be that the superficial is the means to depth.  More on this soon.