Friday, November 14, 2008

Easing into

I cannot believe it is November. I remark on the fact because the month of October was a dismal month in the studio--erratic due to the time I spent amassing my third year review binder (bit of an anticlimactic title for that which devoured hours of my studio time)--and time does indeed seem to fall away into nothingness and no-accounting-for when my studio rhythms are off.

Thankfully though, I've cracked the studio open again--tentatively. (Hmmm, is it possible to crack open anything tentatively, or is this a telling indicator of the nature of studio time for now, until things get moving again.) Some facets of the week in the studio: I have been surveying the collage put on hold--now disassembled and prime for reconfiguration. OR separation into two smaller collages. Some small collage drawings are already finished--singular shapes comprised of collage detritus--the more vague the fragment the better. They are parts, not-quite-whole. And I've been reading about abstraction--a constant fascination. On Wednesday I spent the morning reading through the essays found in a monograph of Tomma Abts, a painter I've been taken with for a little while. Some excerpts I am still mulling over:

In Laura Hoptman's Tomma Abts: Art for an Anxious Time,
"To create rather than represent can be seen as active, even activist, because the artist herself is positioned to communicate the most profound, if inchoate, ideas in language that is nonspecific and timeless."

" is interesting to consider the possibility that abstraction in this moment might be a useful vehicle to escape the relative safety of extreme specificity shading into solipsism."

I find the last quote particularly interesting as one of the more frequent criticism's lodged against abstraction has been the notion that one who engages in a language not referencing the world around us is devolving into a kind of inward self-absorption that is at best, quaint, and at worst, unforgivable.

In Jan Verwoert's The Beauty and Politics of Latency: On the work of Tomma Abts,
"There is something provocative about the insistence on remaining abstract. First of all, abstraction is the opposite of information."

"True abstraction creates a singular experience of suspended meaning, the exhilerating sensation of the horizon of perception opening up and the mind reeling as new ways to see, think, and feel become tangible."

I've been visually entrenched in abstraction for a relatively short amount of time--a little over ten years--so I have a long ways to go in terms of any sort of artistic maturation. But few visual experiences excite me more than being confronted with an image I know nothing about, am not able even to wholly understand in fact, do not possess the language to even approach, cannot grasp...but ardently believe in nonetheless. Verwoert nails it--my inclination toward the notion that there are way of seeing, thinking and feeling we (collectively) have not happened upon shores up my visceral attraction toward abstraction. Mostly I tend to believe we are perpetually in a fog, and even so-called objective looking is not enough to pull us out of our blindness. Abstraction is the longed-for treasure brought back from some determined scout, momentarily granted clarity before the clog-inducing cadences of being human resume.

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