Friday, April 24, 2020

The Changing Face of a Painting

In early February,  Gallery One Ct was expecting to hang an exhibition at The Guilford Art Center beginning in mid-May, 2020. My husband and I had just returned from visiting our son in Los Angeles, and my head was filled with our talks with him about Gilles Deleuze. I knew him mostly from his book on Francis Bacon. But there is so much more... one piece: we watched Deleuze on film, with English subtitles, talking through "What is the Creative Act," (on YouTube, dating from 1987). And I gathered notes from that and began to see Deleuze's statements as a way to dig in & start a new series.

I get asked, a lot, about my work. Some people feel that abstract art is over; it died with Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. Other people don't "get" abstracts; they think it's a closed circle, something that needs an MFA to understand, or something their six-year old can do. Perhaps Deleuze could help me frame some ideas. Then I also read a 2018 interview with the filmmaker Diana Thater, (in "Los Angeles Studio Conversations: Sixteen Women Talk about their Art," Ed. Stephanie Buhmann, purchased at Book Soup in LA-- should be required reading for artists). Thater says "I am always in my work as is my crew" and uses multiple screens because she wants to reveal "the whole construct and setup of the film." And I wondered, can I do that in paint? 

I started by dividing the canvas up, to show how I think and work. The left side was left blank, to portray the (daunting) empty canvas. Then the next vertical "stripe" was for the articulation of the idea: words, quick sketches... then the first attempt, then the finished "piece" far left. I found that the last two morphed into one another, so the first paintings had just three compartments. 

Then... the thing happened that always happens... the paintings began, as they should, to take on their own lives. And the first painting, the one I thought would be the base, the thing to then aspire to in the next paintings, began to tell me it was unhappy with its state .... so, the top version, the first "finished" version, became the second version, the one below. Other things changed too. The "idea," or first muse-quote, changed space from its vertical presentation to be across the top and the vertical lines just did not seem as important. Here's a new painting:

I still love the text. Diana Thater and Gilles Deleuze are still in there. See what you think.