And now for a post about art from the (not so) distant past … Six years ago, I was in art school stretching my own humongous canvases, spending hours and hours pondering and journaling on the perilous possibilities of form, content, and the place of painting. This is a piece I’ve been living with ever since. I think I’ve shown it maybe three times, but for the last several years it has occupied a lonely place in my bedroom. I recently re-hung it on a wall, where paintings belong.
Reconsidering this painting now, having lived with it for so long and having hauled it through at least four different apartments, I have a very physical connection with it. When I was making it, I was really focused on the process, and color/composition work often were placed on the back burner. I was muddling through this sort of “constant revision” approach where I would begin something but refuse to become committed, obscure it, and start again, with the result being a sort of time warp where you can see the flux of several different sketches without a necessarily recognizable “finished” product. Adding to this, I think this particular piece was based on live models, but every 120 seconds or so they would change position, adding to the time lapse effect. This way of working I think was a precursor to my concept of “progression” or “progressive” painting, wherein the process is paramount and the “end” of the work is slippery.
However “unfinished” it was at the time, I haven’t touched it in several years and I think I can say that I probably will not return to anything on this particular canvas … So be it … Let’s call it done!
Where does the soul meet the body, and how does the body approach the soul? Does a human being have an internal flame? How is it affected by entropy? Where is it located in anatomy, in physiology, in pathology? Thoughts on: Kuriyama, Shigehisa. (1999). The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine
Man with drapes is called man with drapes because there is not another good name for it. A man stands, picking up some drapes. This was one of the first of my “progressive painting” experiments, in which I worked primarily in charcoal, then liberally applied paint, then alternated back to charcoal, and so forth in a pattern cycle that eventually became “constant revision” and changing of position, color, etc. I searched for a surface full of movement, uncertainty, but also shape and form. Making art this way, it is impossible to know when to stop revising or beginning a new cycle for the piece. At a point, I believe the art tells you when to stop. If the artist feels it is unfinished, then it is up to the viewer to finish it.
Unfortunately for man with drapes, there were very few viewers. This painting featured in a solo show at the now defunct Pi Bar (a MPLS GLBT night club), then hung on my studio’s wall for awhile. When I went to France, the boyfriend of a friend threw it in a dumpster after they had a fight. A loyal girlfriend of mine drove to the suburbs to rescue the piece, which was returned to me upon my return from France, months later. Man with drapes hung happily on my studio apartment wall for a time, and it was the favorite painting of my then long-distance boyfriend. When we broke up, I was maudlin. I piled all things that reminded me of him into a box, including a tiny plastic christmas tree, and this painting. I had ripped it from its stretcher and rolled up the canvas, shoving all into a box. I was going to send everything to him, but instead the box sat in my closet for over a year. Much later, in a purging mood, I decided to throw out the box. I had forgotten man with drapes was there entombed, and didn’t bother to remove the layers of packing tape securing the carton’s edges. Ultimately, man with drapes met his end in a crappy neighborhood dumpster, and is now lying buried under a trash heap, I presume.
Reckless abandonment of art is a shame, I have learned, because instead of anybody finishing it at all, it winds up finished by a dump truck! This is the only surviving image of that painting left. Le sigh… Original size was 4 ft x 5ft, acrylic on hand-built and -stretched canvas.
This is a large painting started in my bedroom. I had this big canvas leaning against my wall and woke up one night to see shadows playing on the surface. I decided to trace the shadows in the middle of the night, which were coming from light outside interacting with my palm tree (now dead!), and begin a “progressive” painting with multiple sessions of tracing and then painting. It’s still not finished, but it makes a nice decoration for now. Hoping to “finish” it this summer.