Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thanks to Kate Beck and Guido Winkler for contributing the content for last week's posts.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brent Hallard: Tube

acrylic and pencil on cut and folded paper, 8.5 x 11.7 in., 2008

Brent Hallard lives and works in Tokyo. Here is his website. I'm very partial to his work. He runs a project space in the Setagaya district called Bus-Dori. Which if you ask me, I think this is extremely cool. Brent grew up in Sydney and embellishment makes him cranky.

Brent Hallard On The End

There is nothing left to do. Nothing left to do. Cleaning up the area. Putting bits away. Pulling other things out. Throwing out what is not needed. Banana peel. Ducking out for what is. Finally...There is nothing left to do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fallon and Rosof: In The Studio

acrylic on panel, double-sided, 4x8x1"

Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof run the wildly successful and extremely popular Philly Art Blog. They are also collaborating artists and the image above is from their "So True" series. True advocates of the arts in general and of contemporary art in Philadelphia in particular, their passion is genuine and their enthusiasm infectious.

Fallon and Rosof On Utopia

We are utopians.

Utopianism does not mean perfectionism. It means aspiring to something better. Much of our own art is OK, not perfect, but we still think it's utopian. We reinvent our lives in our art to tell a mythic story of everyday heroine-ism. We give away our autobiographical art on the street to promote our vision of utopianism--collaborative, activist, small and people-centric.

We want to show you can have your little utopia in your everyday existence.

We are living in dystopic times, and that sense of the world falling apart is what's catalyzing the urgency of today's utopianism. It's how things felt during the Vietnam War era. People are again creating utopias and collectives. The 1960's homemade candles, tie-dyed t-shirts, and homegrown food has transmogrified into today's hand-printed t-shirts, knitwear and everything else that has to offer. The whole DIY ethic is the dream of a better and more authentic world. No more plastic.

We've noticed that more and more artists are making unabashedly utopian art -- people like Oliver Herring or like the collectives of young artists who are transforming Philadelphia's art scene with their idealism and energy.

Utopianism provides a counterbalance to the Bush administration philosophy of greed. We know we're not going to change the world except in small ways but we're going to go down trying.

Notes On Artists On Words and " The Artist's Statement"

I've always hated "The Artist's Statement". I have found it to be categorically unfair. Are musicians expected to make a charcoal sketch to "explain" what they "do"? Are writers asked to submit photos "further illustrating" their manuscripts? Are dancers required to pen "The Dancer's Statement"? I don't mind writing about my work. But anything I write is, in the end, superfluous. If it's really possible to "put into words" what I do, then what am I really doing? The work stands (or falls) on its own. Period. How about we call it, "Supplementary Artist's Notes" instead?

Artist's On Words has been a modest attempt to give artists a platform to write about their work in a more associative and casual way. As a Visual Artist, I have found associations between my art and written language to be haphazard, fluid, temporary, and far from "perfect". That being the case, what will result when such definitive results are expected? "Statement" is such a strong word to descibe what I have experienced to be so fleeting. That is not to say the association between our work and language isn't critically important to what we do. But when requested to craft the association into the cliched and conventional structure of "The Artist's Statement", I have found the results are often, well, cliched and conventional.

This was touched upon by a comment posted here last week. It was said that it was interesting that "Artists On Words" gets beyond "My work is about...". I really hope that is the case. I have never gotten the question, "What is your work about?" from someone who really likes or is generally having a positive response to my work. I get that question out of left field from people who don't get my work and probably don't want to get it. I personally would never ask this question to another artist. Would you? When writing "The Artists Statement" and including the "My work is about..." cliche we are assuming the readers are of that same clueless frame of mind that would ask the question to your face. That puts us at an automatic disadvantage, trying to explain something from scratch to someone not very receptive in the first place.

When asked to complete an "The Artist's Statement" it's hard not conform to its conventions, and you don't want to come off sounding like a flake. It can be viewed in a strategic way and it's always important to remember you're not really "explaining" a blessed, single thing about your "work".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Guido Winkler: One In The Many #1

41/61x81 cm

Guido Winkler lives in Leiden, the Netherlands. He and iemke van Dijk are the masterminds behind the terrific IS Projects. They have just opened a new show there called 'Properties'. Of course it's great. He has his hands busy in other projects as well. You know, he's one of those guys who is always up to something. Check out more of his own work here. It's great too.

Guido Winkler On Weight

The Weight of Thought

Regarding my own work and work by other artists, when I speak of 'weight' I often use the word 'lightness' as a quality I embrace. I do not mean the weight of mass, rather the weight of thought. I tend to like works that are looking as if they were made without much effort, very casual, speaking for themselves, hardly pretentious. Yet made with refinement, on the edge, maybe a bit less than just too much and with room for contemplation and imagination. Free, light, enlightened, uplifting I would consider. It is the weight of thought. It reflects the artist's habits, the artist's attitude. I like to use the term "weight of thought" also, because of my interest in perception, awareness, consciousness. Is the world what we experience only around us or is it front and foremost a reflected image in our mind? And then, what about the physical aspects of thought? What kind of matter is that?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thanks to Jeff Feld and Jessisca Westbrook for contributing to last week's posts.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kate Beck: Naranga

oil on canvas, 84x60", 2006

I like the personal, conversational approach Kate Beck took to her post. She does real interesting work which you can see on her website. She also has a neat blog. Both love line. And after looking, so do I. She lives and works in Maine.

Kate Beck On Chance

Do I make paintings of chance, or by chance, accidental by nature, happening unexpectedly without intention or plan, or is it simply a question of fate that the work exists at all? These can be tough questions, especially for we who make pictures of nothing…. Questions that I try to keep outside of my consciousness within the studio, and within my personal being. But the thoughts still do creep in.

Creating abstract oil paintings of size is an undertaking. They are expensive to make – materials enough to fill 35 square feet or so of surface costs quite a lot; having a large enough space to make them in costs quite a lot; having room in my life to execute this endeavor knowing that I may fail or never recoup my investment, costs quite a lot. I am 5’ 3 1/2” tall. I don’t work with two feet squarely on the floor. I have to be strong and agile and open to the possibility of physical risk either to myself or to the painting surface – and believe me, it all happens in the studio. Finally, unknowing open opinion doesn’t get it. It wants me to explain what I am making and how I am making it and why I am making. And I cannot. But I know there is more than happenstance going on. My work is not an unexpected happening. I see it coming.

My technique requires a constant attention to process. My process is very physical in nature and because I am apt to move quickly during a pour or drawing – mostly due to the manipulation of the materials – it allows me to override my mental impulses and move beyond the intellectual intention. I have found this to be truly critical to creating a credible result. I certainly don’t approach a large surface cold, without any premeditation at all. My color studies are always done beforehand. But sometimes that’s it. I trust that I have learned experience within me, in my brain and in my body, and I let that intuition guide me. Easier said than done. Accidents do happen, but I try to be careful in my preparedness so that unhappy accidents occur as infrequently as possible. It is a balance between letting go and adhering to reliable principles and methodologies which I have found to be tried and true. Anything that happens from that perspective is more natural in flow which ultimately brings me closer to the surface and the final painting. There has to be room for me. The trick is to know when to pull away; close the eyes, let go of the work. It has taken me a long time to build confidence in my process. I guess so far, so good. Probably.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coming next, Beck and Winkler...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jessica Westbrook: Syntax 2

Jessica Westbrook lives and works in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Jessica does fantastic work which she exhibits worldwide. You can see it for yourself if you click on this link. She recently said to me in an email conversation, "My only resolution is to ASK QUESTIONS till you are dead." Clicking on the above image will make it larger.

Jessica Westbrook On Syntax

ok here we go. i just put this together. i used word in format. last time i glanced i got attached to "syntax" then forgot then looked again and attached again. so it stuck. language in label and visual -not so much to write about yet in life. but i do love words and fixate on them as little holders no doubt.
Thanks to Kevin Finklea and Sharon Butler for supplying the material for last week's posts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jeff Feld: The Chance Of A Lifetime

I met Jeff while we were exhibiting in Non-Declarative Art at the Drawing Center last year. He lives in New York City and is an extremely nice guy. I think his work is super interesting and you'll be able to see it if you click here.

Jeff Feld On Negation

In "the chance of a lifetime" I have taken the simple everyday cardboard box and have altered it with the addition of a candle. This enigmatic mix of the sacred and banal (high and low) creates a sense of tension via its own sense of negation. The box fails to contain it’s object, the candle, and use of the candle destroys the box (and potentially much more) Ultimately the viewer does not know what is in the box, yet the anticipation of receiving such a box can leave one initially surprised and hopeful (the chance of a lifetime) which upon further examination yields to a kind of mounting horror. By using negation this work plays upon desire, threat and/or fear, and ultimately our mortality.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sharon Butler: Untitled, 11

"Untitled, 11" 2007 Oil on canvas board, 18" x 24".

Please check out Sharon Butler's website to see her great work. Being a big Melville fan myself, I just loved her "Search for Moby Dicks". The first part was called a "dickathon". While not painting, teaching or searching for Moby Dicks, she maintains the art blog Two Coats of Paint, and is a Contributing Writer at The Brooklyn Rail.

Sharon Butler On Isolation

This painting is part of a 34-panel series of linear abstractions inspired by paintings my reclusive father made in the Sixties. His main influences were Klee, Mondrian, Cezanne, Picasso, Braque, and Miro. Unlike me, he worked fairly quickly and didn't agonize over specific colors or shapes. Yet his paintings – all easel-sized abstractions on canvas board - have a prepossessing brushwork and simple charm. This painting, based on an image of an observation tower, captures the innocence, vulnerability, and isolation I see in his work.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Kevin Finklea: Bending Space

From 'Bending Space' at The Eagle Gallery/Emma Hill Fine Art, July of 2006 in London. Kevin lives in Philadelphia and is represented by the Pentimenti Gallery there and by Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York.

Kevin Finklea On Position

Position is certainly a central issue in my work. This has been the case for at least 30 years.

There is the most obvious matter of where I physically place my work when installing it in a given space. The work is often times inherently ill at ease; as most everything I do hovers between object and painting. Drawing directly on the wall serves my purposes but really screws the space up further still. I see all of this working in concert producing situations where the work appears to simply not know which thing it wants to be. Here you’d say it’s position is not clear.

I think all of this is fine. It pretty much sums up my experience from day to day. I consciously push the notion of position further with my color compositions. How can I take the positioning of the color to a place where the painting is almost falling apart? How can I push the pigments to heighten this? Can I position the color and it’s intensity so that the object resists being read integrally?

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Next: Finklea On Position and Butler On Isolation

Thanks to Joanne Mattera and Adam Trowbridge for contributing to last week's posts.