Sign up for the newsletter (and updates for very occasional special events) below. The newsletters go out four times per year, and share thoughts on current art and ideas, as well as information on recent work in the studio and upcoming events.
See an example below, as well as links to previous newsletters.
NEWSLETTER 2019 No. 3: Meaning as experience, studio news
After the summer newsletter’s notes on meaning as a kind of joint effort between artist and viewer, I thought it would be worthwhile to give an example about what that might mean in practical terms, and how it might play out.
Last week, I was reading some poems from Adam Zagajewski’s latest volume, Asymmetry. (It’s fantastic.) One poem, "Rachmaninoff," is about hearing the composer’s Third Concerto as a young man. This is the second stanza:
I heard the promise of things to come,
omens of complex happiness, love, sketches
of landscapes I would later recognize,
a glimpse of purgatory, heaven, wanderings, and finally
maybe even something like forgiveness.
It is youthfully fertile, and it also struck me as a sharp rendition of the kind of associative frenzy that can happen as we perceive a really compelling artwork, and the way the streams of meaning and feeling branch off, in some instances more quickly than the mind can process them.
Can you call this experience—the internal ferment of our interaction with a painting, poem, film or dance—the stuff of meaning? I think you can, or at least an initial state of meaning. To do so asks that we think of meaning as a living process that takes place over time, rather than a static or constant entity. Later, as the temperature cools, some of our impressions and thoughts may set into more stable (but less nuanced) forms that we can ponder and share more easily. Others may remain suspended, enigmatic, suggestive, inscrutable, beautiful.
In the Studio
Most of my work over the summer was on paintings on canvas as part of a series that seems to be coming out. The images are binary in nature. I think there’s a hazard in artists explicitly defining to themselves what they are doing, as it tends to take the mystery out of what is an inherently mysterious phenomenon—human creation. That said, in general terms I have been drawn to potential states of affairs and relationships in my paintings over the years.
The binary is the simplest form of a relationship between entities. We’ll see where things go from there.
I was fortunate to be able to participate in an exhibition at Space 776 as part of the Bushwick Open Studios here in Brooklyn last month. I showed the above painting from my Circle of Fifths series.
There’s more information and images of all the paintings in the series, here. If you’re really interested, there is a catalog for the series available as a free ebook, or a print version for purchase. If you're still interested, ring me up and you can come over and see the paintings in the series I still have in the studio.
Yes and yes again
“The painter can do no more than construct an image; he must wait for this image to come to life for other people. When it does, the work of art will have united these separate lives; it will no longer exist in only one of them like a stubborn dream or a persistent delirium, nor will it exist only in space as a colored piece of canvas. It will dwell undivided in several minds, with a claim on every possible mind like a perennial acquisition.”
– From “Cézanne’s Doubt,” by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1945.