Thursday, October 23, 2008

Red Scrape

As an artist, I'm interested in the idiosyncratic rhythms of any given studio--my own of course but also my students. An artists' studio (of the sort where material is bandied about that is) seems a kind of physical philosophical space. Ideas rise and fall based on adamantly materialist negotiations. Stances toward the universe, the world, a nation, or maybe just a room (a world nonetheless) flesh out into form as paintings or drawings or collages evolve, arise, appear.

I view my own studio, when it is running efficiently, as a sort of singular country, a fragile monarchy I suppose, where bits of paper and paint are endlessly contriving against their idealistic queen, who strives toward democracy, perpetually spouting out, "No, you tell ME what I'm doing here! You are after all, the-thing-itself, YOU know what you are!" And still I only get glimpses. This is MY particular studio though, and my daily flailing is only due to the fact that try as I might (and for some reason, when I am less connected to the work I still do try), I cannot head into any creative endeavor with concrete direction. (Is there anything more boring, concrete direction that is?) According to Malcolm Gladwell's very interesting recent article in The New Yorker, I am a "late bloomer." To simplify what he thinks this means, I do not head into making with firmly fixed conceptual goals; I figure/understand by experimenting.

Periodically I become attached to various experiments of mine that somehow seem significant despite their oddness or lack-of-fitting-in-to-the-rest-ness or just plain ugliness.  The image to the right, called Red Scrape, is one such experiment.  I can't quite post it on my website because aligning it with all the other finished, cleaned up images suggests it's value resides in resolve.  On the spectrum of articulation, Red Scrape is a guttural sound, a visceral motion-as-image "drawing" that calls out to me because 

I like the fact that the scraped paint took on a pattern--and a bit of an awkward one.

I'm interested in the fact that pattern is simultaneously gesture. 

I like the fact that the gesture gets undermined by the cut down the near-middle--the narrow seam ruptures continuity, doesn't quite let a gesture be a gesture.  

I like that gesture, when accumulated, takes on shape. 

I am not sure in full why all of these qualities are important to me.  But I do sense Red Scrape is a prelude to more amplified notions--it is a solitary tread into an unknown space, the first dove sent back from the great unknown.

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