Several of the people I've had to my studio for visits have all suggested that I take another look at the grid paintings by Mondrian. I've been kind of put off by Mondrian for a couple of reasons: the rigidity, desire for purity and essentialism, autonomy of the picture, and the chauvinistic/sexist discourse around the work. I've also been blaze about his work cuz it seem tight, constrained, confined to the square. But each one of my visitors (profs, art historians, art theorist, and a curator) have all said, "Take another look. Don't worry about what history has done to it. Look at the surface. Look at it again."
And so I did. (below is the piece at the National Gallery of Canada)
Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 12 with Blue (1936-1942)
Now that I had a couple of pieces painted and ready, I booked out one of the installation rooms and started to play around with how I wanted them to interact with space and each other. It was a fruitful experience and I learned a lot about what works and what doesn't work for me. Here are some shots in progress
My early explorations into the colour yellow based on my trip across the prairies led me to think about time, space, and discovery. How do I convey the constantly changing light in a way that isn't necessarily linear (because I am working from memory and not direct observation)? I like using sequential panels and used that as a starting point.
I wanted to explore the idea of movement through space as well so I started to set up the work in another room, just to see what happened. I was amazed at the effects combining the different surfaces created; how one plane meets the other. So I think the work is shifting towards being more about revealing, concealing, discovery, and, perhaps most of all, uncertainty.
Seeing as how I'm going through paint like a monkey's racehorse, I thought I'd explore the option of mixing my own pigments. This might save me some money and teach me more about the stuff that I love: oil paint. So I bought some Kama pigment and got to it.
DISCLAIMER: Always use eye, hand, and mouth protection when doing this sort of thing. The pigment gets everywhere and can be toxic depending on what you are using.
I'll be heading off to Ottawa in the next few weeks so I haven't been planning any large art projects. Instead, I've been making small studies (oil on paper) just to get the juice flowing. It was a bit of a struggle to get it going again after having such a long break from painting, but I'm enjoying myself up there in the belfry ;) Here is some samples of what I've been doing.
Now that I'm able to make a little art, I've realized that I don't really remember where I left off? So I'm hoping to not go back but retrace my steps to a few months ago. It's a weird feeling; I have all this built up energy to make things but I don't know what to make. I know the secret is to just make things and it'll all come back, but I think a few signposts from this spring might be useful.
-imagery: the grid as a handle, good metaphor for space/time (lateral, simultaneous)
-inquiry with experiential in painting
-awareness of colour, light
-a meditation on the "in-between" space of a hue/tone
-Hella Jongeruis "colour catchers"
"It doesn't have to be real, it just has to be convincing." Agnes Martin