Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Heaving in the Mind
My friend Jamie makes art about our failures as humans in the form of culture. I think he means that culture is always incomplete. It services us for so long depending on various factors, but ultimately it fails in its timeless and universal scope. I think that's what he's saying in a lot of ways.
We've shown together numerous times. Our work takes pretty different forms. But some of the impetus is quite similar. I think of failure a lot. Not my own in some small-scale quasi tragedy, but as human experience en masse. Always just falling short of what meaning there could be and some calling it the unfathomable and building a religion while others call it impatience on our part and scoff at anxiety.
Jamie Adams "Battle Popes" 2007 multi-plate woodcut
In my own small way I'm always making work about being overwhelmed. Anxiety comes into it as a big theme. The acceptance of mortality is really important to me. I find that grace occurs when we submit to that realization not with passivity but with the attitude that strings of inevitability engage our senses endlessly.
Lately I've realized that my images center around trauma not in a direct way, but in a way perhaps more horrible when fed through memory over and over again. Leonardo Da Vinci said that painting moves in the mind. I find that to be more and more true the more I get involved with painting. That's how I mean to paint. I think that's a huge part of its power. It moves in the mind immediately and simultaneously it unfolds endlessly as though one could get the feel of a novel at a glance and yet find undulations of engagement on a visceral level over long periods of time too. Good painting says something when it makes its noise. More people could make good paintings if they concentrated on just that simple notion: How do I make it good?
So, my figures are patchy. Every mark is really toiled over on the surfaces so they're taking a long, long time to make. That's rather fine with me. I can't abide painting forms. I don't really know why outside of knowing that I can't abide the arrogance of purely perceptual inclinations presented as facts. Not from me anyway. Previous abstract work was a brash and floundering attempt at building forms of doom. These figures come from the same place, but I feel I have worked into a more sophisticated focus in the mark making and color. The doom has a better idea of itself anymore.
It all adds up to these floating collections of bruises. It feels successful sometimes in that way where it moves like the memory of flesh in my mind. Heaving or breathing shallow, twisting, immovable but falling apart. Moving with love and the consequences of mortality. It has little to do with culture outside of self-awareness. It's certainly a reaction to culture, but not one that's significantly different than someone reflecting on where they were, say, in 1110 A.D. And I'm a product of my time. That's what I meant by inevitability in some ways.
Living is the widening circle to death. There is nothing worth living for, as the process bows to the result. Everything is worth dying for.