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
I make a point of seeing shows by Kim Dorland whenever I'm in Vancouver and have yet to be disappointed. I don't know if it's his colour sensibility or his emphasis on the stuff of paint, but I always come away invigorated to get back to the studio. What I think what also is the strongest for me in his work is when the layers of paint interact with each other. Thin and drippy and thick and slow, I could look at these images for hours.
This painting is a continuation of the studies I've been making about the ideas of teal, music, and vernacular forms like windows and screens. It was part of my final work for the advanced studio class I was taking.
Here are some images of my painting that is in dialogue with Vermeer.
I found that this painting got pretty weird . . . but in a good way. I tried to break the rigidity of the grid with the gestures that I had found in the figurative elements. An interesting exploration. The painting really took me for a ride and I had felt that kind of impulse or drive since I painted Coral Pink. I want to chase that kind of feeling when I paint.
I wanted to continue exploring the theme of the city with my painting. This time I wanted to be a little more specific so I focused my attention on my impressions of Chinatown in Victoria, BC. It is my favourite part of the city because it has a strange mashup of old and new construction, grids that don't match or line up, red on red neon signs, tile patterns, and various states of repair/disrepair.
This piece took me a little out of my comfort zone because I wanted to try using coloured gels as lighting. I was worried that it might be too hokey, but it actually enhances the piece in a more subtle way than expected . . . although certain hues (like the blue on the left) were really heightened by the coloured light.
Here are some comments:
-old 3d glasses
-blue highlights doing weird things
-coloured light neutralized on the white wall (interesting effect)
-piece resists interpretation (i really liked this comment)
It was hard to say whether or not my critique went well, only because it was more of a present-your-work-to-provoke-discussion than a finished piece that my peers and profs could critique. There were some interesting points raised, however.
This 2" square of cut fabric had more presence than all of the other elements. Could be the fact that it is a real-life object taken out of its context; certainly, something to consider going forward.
This piece is based on a reading about the Anthropocene. I interpreted the text and thought of the city as the biggest change that humanity has on the environment (the production of is what produces so much waste and pollution.) So I knew that I would be trying to evoke a sense of the city through the many greys that are present. But I also wanted to infuse the work with personal experience, lived experience, a lived impression of the city as a pedestrian (which is mainly how I perceive the city). Below are the results. I'm quite excited by these and may choose to pursue this line of inquiry to make a larger series.
Comments from the critique last week:
-doorways, windows, walls
-embedded in architecture
-pleasurable experience (muted, subtle tonality)
-more subtly nuanced
-familiarity of space/subject
(this last point being important because it may act as an effect hook for the viewer for future works)