Friday, July 9, 2010

Dear Ross,

Just completed a picture (Picture?)--the last stages of doing it was a 24 hour bout--so many images and structures painted out--They do not satisfy now.  Something is happening to me and I do not know what it is.--As I look at it now, after some sleep, it feels so compressed--ordained and remote.  Yet it is so simple to look at.  No--it is not simple to look at all.  It is as if now for all the mind--whose thoughts are pinned--riveted down--but it moves the mind--IN A NARROW RANGE--moves, not roams.  The least--almost nothing for the eye--just enough--one even doesn't need to "look"--too unnerving.  When I am away from it, my thoughts revolve around the image.  Where has it been before, masked & hidden.  I think I have known this image all my life but did not make it visible before. 

-Philip Guston in a letter to Ross Feld from Guston in Time by Ross Feld

When I read Guston's wrangling with words I feel relieved.  Often I struggle to put words to what I do in the studio and feel like all I can do is cobble together a bunch of phrases and dashes.  There is a strange sort of verbal inarticulateness that characterizes the attempt to write out a visual process, and I wrestle against that inarticulateness--I desire verbal equivalents, or at least clarity!  But here the inability to say what is felt when making a painting is utterly beautiful.  And all I can think at the end of reading is that yes, he nailed it, that is exactly what making is like.

I am thinking about my friend Melissa too, as I write this out--as I believe she will know what I am trying to say.

1 comment:

Melissa Dunn said...

It's so funny, Barbara, because as I was reading this I was thinking "uh huh, yeah, isn't that the truth."

Indeed I do understand exactly what you are trying to say! And I love Guston's honest ramblings. He nailed it.

Even though wrapping words around art making is really hard at times, I always enjoy your efforts!