Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brice Marden on Jackson Pollock Part 3.

Here's the last part of Brice Marden's writing on Jackson Pollock.


How you look at a painting physically is very important. A good way to approach a painting is to look at it from a distance roughly equivalent to its height, then double that distance, then go back and look at it in detail where you can begin to answer the questions you've posed at each of these various viewing distances. If you go through a museum and you look at a lot of paintings in that way, it's like a little dance; it's almost a ritual of involvement. If you look very carefully from each of these different distances, you create a space that derives from the painting itself as a physical object and a visual field. When you read the levels of white light, you start from the ground the canvas and then you read the blue, to the yellow, to the red, then the whites, then you see the blacks going through, then the blues, and suddenly, if you are responding, you enter a world that is really inexplicable. The paintings world is only explicable in the sense that it is what you're looking at. That actual experience is happening to you as you look at that painting. That's why painters make paintings: To have you be in that place.

When I talk about the grayish white that runs up through white light, I have to talk about what it is for me to be in that grayish white place. As I was coming uptown to the museum this afternoon, there was the most beautiful light. New York has a great silvery light and today the city was filled with that light. The air was cleansed and the atmosphere was brilliant. As I was standing on a corner thinking, well I'm going to talk about Jackson Pollock this afternoon, I looked up and saw one bank of clouds going one way and another bank of clouds slightly in front going in another direction. And I look at those clouds and I feel these two large movements with a real empathy. And that's just what happens in white light. Different movements work against each other and with each other, and this grayish-white starts moving through the painting one way, the yellows start moving through the painting another way...

There are, of course, differences in the way you relate to the very big paintings and the smaller paintings. I know that most interpretations suggest that you enter this space of the big paintings because they provide an environment that is human scale. But I see the smaller ones as really pulling you in. Maybe because of the size of the big paintings, there's a sort of removal. We don't know for certain that he painted on stretched canvas is, so we don't know if he started with a very specific rectangle that pre-existed. But in the smaller paintings, it seems as if he painted right up to the edge, producing a reverberation off that edge that doesn't happen in the big canvases that were spread on the floor and then got cropped. Some of the black paintings, Pollock gets these great configurations that go down the sides, these kind of round things, almost like spinal columns, incredibly inventive, so that you become acutely conscious of the age of the paintings. It's almost the difference between being told a story and being a character in a story. What happens in the little ones - and the fact is that even white light and scent, relatively small in relation to one, are not really small paintings - is you become a character in the story, and in the big ones you are a witness.

Pollock gave us incredibly powerful, very direct images. I haven't seen scent for many years, and what it is as a painting, to me, has come to the forefront of my thinking. I remember seeing it and having an experience that is very rare in front of paintings. It's as if that painting is burned in my mind. I remember images in that painting; I remember there were these birds, Strange Birds. And I love to look at the Mets head, number 7, 1952, as if it's not a head, and then it turns into a monster with strange nostrils. But then it has that beautiful yellow in it, as if something spilled on it, like a studio mistake. But it's there. It does something to the painting that's just unbelievable. And the black and white paintings - I see those as almost monster paintings, with images that are really scary. Those images are not stereotypical forms; they don't drive from jungian exercises. These are images that come right out of Jackson Pollock. These are very, very strong, bizarre paintings. They have weights in leanings in them that you just can't understand at all.

I go to the Met to see number 7 a lot and I always find something that's not quite right: Oh I say, it's too bottom - heavy for me, or it's something else that's all. But I went to see it last weekend and it just came to life. I looked at the blacks, I looked at the browns, and the painting started working for me. It was a very exciting moment. Not just one Jackson Pollock but a whole great aspect of New York open up to me again. One of my favorite comments is from Maynard Solomon, talking about Beethoven, when he says that "the one thing about a work of art is that it's a constantly renewable source of energy". Whoever looks at a Jackson Pollock can get the intense energy that is in the painting. That's one of the great things about art, you can always go back to it and get it. It's always alive. Well... It's not always alive. It isn't alive when no one is perceiving it, when no one is responding to it.

Fierce effort to eliminate imagery in paintings of this kind blue poles that gives such strength and potency to the use of paint and the general impact of the picture as painting... There is no sensation of... Suppression but instead an invocation of the natural forces moving behind life. Bryan Robertson

Pollock is a very real presence in Marden''s Cold Mountain work. Ever ready to "go to his sources", Marden keeps in close view on his drawing table 4 postcards of Pollock paintings, convergence, 1952, number 32, 1950, number 7, 1951, and number 23, 1948. Books on Pollock are at hand for quick reference to reproductions of paintings and drawings. Marden repeatedly visits the Pollock paintings in New York, where he probes and ponders the work for deeper understanding. It is significant that there are multiple postcards of Pollock works in the studio, just as there are multiple postcard images of paintings by Cezanne, including a bathers and two versions of mont Sainte Victoire, Marden does not keep the images at hand out of sentiment, nor are they there as static , if heroic, icons. While Marden may view any one of these paintings, taken in isolation, as dazzling in its achievement, it is not any one painting alone that compels Marden's attention and respect. What Marden admires above all in Pollock and Cezanne, is a body of work that tracks the process of making painting after painting, drawing after drawing, often on the same subject, addressing a single problem from multiple perspectives, living with the struggle. The whole thing about making a painting. Marden says, is that the next painting is supposed to be a better painting.

Marden's position is at once puritanical and existential. He is motivated by the quest for perfection even as he knows that each painting on which he exerts such an exhaustive effort will not - cannot, must not - be as good as his next painting. In the end, it's not only the resolution of each and every painting to which Marden aspires. I admire certain pictures by Pollock and Cezanne, he says, but it isn't just the pictures. I aspire to what their pictures reveal, a true relation between artists and the art they make.

Marden closed a statement he wrote for publication in 1991 with the phrase "Cezanne, my hero." The heroic painter, for Marden, is a convergence of who one is, what one makes, and who one wishes to become. Harrowing uncertainty must coexist with hubristic will. "I am the only painter alive", Cezanne is reported to have said to Joachim Gasquet, convincingly communicating awareness of his superiority. Marden laughs with delighted admiration and repeating this Cezanne quote to friends. Yet even in the face of such conviction, Cezanne acknowledged that he was still far removed from the goal that as an artist he dreamed of attaining. 'I have a lot of work to do', he wrote to Louis Aurenche. 'It is what happens to everyone who is someone'.


I hope you have enjoyed this text. I'm glad to be able to share it. The text comes from the book BRICE MARDEN - COLD MOUNTAIN. Published by Houston Fine Art Press.

Thanks. Jeffrey Collins

Monday, December 5, 2016

Brice Marden on Jackson Pollock Part 2.

My continuation from Brice Marden's book COLD MOUNTAIN. His writing about the work of Jackson Pollock.

The artist's vision is not something that exists, that you know. If you know it and you keep doing what you know, it becomes a familiar road over which you travel until it ceases to be interesting. Instead, with every step toward the vision, questions arise and you pursue those questions. And all the while you're just in the studio, trying to make paintings. Pollock's paintings around 1950 - One, Autumn Rhythm, Lavender Mist - have an ease and lyricism. When you look at those paintings, you see an artist who could do no wrong, who was operating at a level of supreme confidence. That confidence doesn't exist in the late paintings, which convey the struggle of the artist working with his vision, attempting to enlarge his vision, going to his sources. There was a drive of his own that led Pollock through an enormous amount of work. He died when he was only forty-four and he left a huge body of work, He went back to themes and completely reworked them. One of the great things about Pollock is that he never takes it easy: there's no rote. As an artist, to go through the books on Pollock and see everything he has's just exhausting! He worked very hard on every painting and every drawing. Pollock is no accidental genius. There is real thinking going on in every work.

When I look at a painting like ONE, it just seems perfectly drawn. It's not so much about the particular shape of the mark as it is about energy. Energy is drawn into ONE, as it's drawn into a lot of his work. There is the physical energy it took to make the mark, and then there's the intense energy that comes out of the painting. In ONE you see that every layer is applied in a different way, and you understand that those are drawing decisions as well as painting decisions, so that in the end you see this as an exquisitely drawn painting, and you recognize that Pollock was a masterful draftsman. When you focus on looking at a painting, always the thing to look for is how well the person draws, and drawing well is a combination of energy and control. The amazing thing about the Braque and Picasso show was that right from the beginning, you just know Picasso draws better than Braque does. All you had to do was to look at Braque's little etchings of the nude and a couple of Picasso drawings and you saw that Picasso had it way over Braque. And that confidence runs all through the work. That's the kind of confidence you see in ONE. Pollock made enormous jumps in what he tackled in a painting. Subject matter, color, form - those are all very big jumps. He had to be a great draftsman, and I don't think he had a lot of confidence about it; I think he constantly worked on it. When I think of powerful objects in the world, I think about this Pollock drawing in Stuttgart. It's black enamel paint on paper, and it's just three forms drawn with strokes of pure energy. It is one of the most compelling works in the history of art. Pollock's drawing well is not about drawing with conventional skill, it's about drawing with the body.

They say that Pollock wasn't a very graceful person but that when he was working, he was simply transformed. He could control the whole feel of the painting by going to the original ground layer and bringing it back up. The ground is the canvas, and what happens in the painting is a dynamic play between the applied and what it's applied on. Everything gets drawn. In other words, in a black and white painting like Echo, he's not making drawings of black. Every white works just as strongly as every black. And in ONE you look at the colors and the marks, and you try to redraw them. You look at the blacks and you follow the way they went on the canvas, then you follow the whites, say, then the browns.... But there's always some point where you lose the trail; you just can't read it because it never reads as layering. It's nice to think, well, he did the black at the same time and we can follow those marks, but when you really start looking at the painting, there are places where the black is over the white, and then there are places where the white is over the black. I don't really know how he was working those colors, how he could go back and forth between colors and layers. The colors may look layered, but I think there was a more organic flow between what looks like the bottom layer and what looks like the top layer. There just seems to be so much more: Pollock doesn't let the painting read as layers, and all those marks and colors become the real space of the painting.

More to come. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Brice Marden on Jackson Pollock

Thanks to a friend. I was able to get the COLD MOUNTAIN book of Marden's. Most of you who know me personally, know of my appreciation for Brice Marden. I find his work to be of utmost quality and vision. And he's not only great at making his own works, but he's also great at talking about his favorite painters. And speaking about them in a much more personal way than most art critics. Here is a clip from this book, I have spent the last 30 minutes typing out. I will go back and type in some of the rest of this talk about Pollock, especially since things like this NEED to be said and talked about.

And now, let's listen to Marden.

Video taken from the instagram account of his Daughter Mirabelle.

“There’s a very American reluctance to accept genius. With Pollock, there is always somehow the notion that he was doing something ‘wrong’: ‘he dripped, he was a little crazy, he drank too much, he had an automobile accident.’ Look at BLUE POLES, for instance. This is a complete painting: there is nothing more Pollock could have done with that painting. As someone said, there is simply no other painting comparable to BLUE POLES. Yet many people chose not to accept Pollock as capable of doing that painting. It became a very problematic work. “Why does Jackson Pollock painting suddenly have these things in it?”

“To maintain any kind of life as an artist is to make change. Yet for most observers change in an artists work is the most difficult thing to accept. It’s my belief that the culture is constantly striving to suppress the artist precisely because the whole part of making art is to maintain freedom – and in a society you don’t want people maintaining their individual freedom because it’s not societal. An artist ops to exercise freedom, and as one manifestation of that freedom, Jackson Pollock paints BLUE POLES and says, ‘Here, in exchange for me freedom I give you this.’ And the society doesn’t want to accept it. They say, ‘No, it’s not right. The last ones were right, but this one isn’t.’ A new book on Pollock says that he was drawing images and that they were ‘Falling on the canvas,’ which is another example of refusing to accept his genius. It’s really grasping at straws,’ ‘to look for alternative explanations of why the works look the way they do, as if Pollock were just too dumb to know what he was doing and the paintings somehow ended up looking this way. So many excuses…all rather than accept the fact that he was an amazing painter who encompassed in his work and astonishingly wide range of different things, including so many specifically American things.

“I have friends who insist that you cannot be an American painter unless you have driven across the country because otherwise you simply have no idea what this place is like. Pollock really knew this. The idea of movement is essential to Pollock’s work, but when talking about movement in a Pollock painting, you need to talk about the space of America. You need to know that during his lifetime Pollock traveled back and forth across the country, in cars, in trains, on the tops of boxcars. He spent a summer as a forest ranger on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Think if an incredibly sensitive youth totally tuned in to the idea of making art, and then think of the impact on him of his immersion in this landscape for a whole summer and the effect that could have on what happens in the paintings.

“There’s a great deal of confusion about what an artist does in the studio as opposed to what happens outside the studio and what effect each of these environments and circumstances has on the artist. The great thing about Pollock – and something that since his death seems to have been forgotten about art – was his conviction that each work is part of a continuing quest. To be an artist is not about making individual works. To be an artist is to do your work and let your work express the evolution of a vision. It’s a continuous process for which there is never any full, unqualified reward. You don’t get something done and say, ‘oh, that’s it.’ You get something done and it’s part of a living situation. It isn’t a matter of getting something done, and then getting a number of things done, and then making an exhibition and selling the somethings. That’s what happens outside the studio, and for Pollock those issues never seemed to enter the studio, where he was finding his vision.


I will continue this as time permits.

Monday, October 10, 2016

TENSION: A Single Painting Exhibition

Thanks to Jeffrey Cortland Jones for curating this exhibition in his space CORRIDOR in Dayton Ohio.

The opening was on Friday. I drove out with a good friend and we had a wonderful time talking with people and seeing the rest of the art that was going on in the building.

As always. The documentarian that I am, I had to film the painting in the exhibition.

I chose one painting for this exhibition, mostly because of space considerations. I know I could have put 4 or more in there, but I wanted to give the viewer one representation of my work to focus on. I know artists when they get exhibitions they tend to want to cram in all their newest work. I made sure with this exhibition to do neither of those. This painting is...

30.5" X 67"
Acrylic on Acrylic Yarn on Painted Wood Chassis and Incorporated Aluminum Frame

The exhibition will be up in Dayton at Corridor/Divisible until the end of October. If you would like any other information about it. Please feel free to ask. You can also find out more here if you are on Facebook.

More pics.....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dayton and Heidelberg

September began with a bang for me. Jeffrey Cortland Jones curated a wonderful groundbreaking exhibition called Fiction (With only Daylight Between Us), the exhibition is only part of a grand scale traveling exhibition. It's already been announced to be heading to Heidelberg, Germany, opening October 15 at boecker contemporary.

The show is running currently at Corridor (divisible) in Dayton, OH from September 2 – 22.

The image below is from the website Curating Contemporary, run by Brian Edmonds. I would like to send a special Thank You for taking the time to put the exhibition online and on your website. It's a very well put together site I must add.

Those who know me, know that I am not a well traveled artist, not yet at least. So to me, this is a very big thing for me and my future. I have worked a lot to get to this point and I am enjoying it the best I can. I know I deserved it and am grateful for the opportunity. To be having my first group show in another country is something quite big in my book, I count no opportunity as smaller than the others, because each one helps me to reach another plateau that can be used to better my life, and the lives of those around me.

NOW. It's onto October when I will be having my first one person exhibition of 2016 also at Corridor, curated once more by Jeffrey Cortland Jones, titled TENSION. Running the duration of October. Below is the painting included. It's a solo painting for a solo exhibition.

30.5" X 67"
Acrylic on Acrylic Yarn on Painted Wood Chassis and Incorporated Aluminun Frame

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kenworth Moffett RIP

Kenworth W. Moffett died yesterday at 10:40 AM peacefully in Stamford, CT, after a prolonged battle with heart problems, though he put up a valiant fight for decades ,to survive to write and exhibit the artists he loved so much, he succumbed at age 81.Despite his ongoing battle , he was Director of 2 Museums , Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale (Now NSU Museum Fort Lauderdale), then MCA Denver(then MoCAD ), and was Curator of Contemporary Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, prior to that, while simultaneously, also a full time Professor of Art History at Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Mass. Ken's writing was published internationally in magazines,books, & journals, throughout his career. He is survived by daughter Kay, and wife Cynthia.

Photo Credit Wendy Seiler.

Photo below: Me talking with Moffett and telling him about what I do and offering my services. Very kind man. I believe Peter Reginato took this picture. Thanks!!!

I only recently got to meet KM through the yearly shows in Brooklyn at Sideshow Gallery. I offered to do an interview with him, but unfortunately the circumstances never conspired to allow it to happen. Now I find myself being quite saddened that I didn't get to tell his story. I can only hope that maybe there is someone out there that knew Moffett and decides to make a book on this man. Thanks Lucy Baker for keeping me abreast of what has been going on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wesley Kimler

I visited yesterday with Painter Wesley Kimler in his Chicago studio, and wanted to share this photo essay with you. I believe we spent about 4 hours talking about all kinds of things painters talk about when they get together. I got to spend some wonderful time around his collection of birds too. One of which is quite entertaining.

These paintings are so haunting in person. I told Wesley they reminded me of new versions from the Horrors of War, just this time not from Goya, but from Kimler.

And finishing up with my painting that I brought to share with Wesley. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aaron Garber-Maikosvka at C-l-e-a-r-i-n-g

For every NYC trip I make these days. I always head down to C-l-e-a-r-i-n-g gallery on Johnson Ave in Bushwick. Aaron Garber-Maikosvka is new to the gallery and this first exhibition is quite the smack in the head to a lot of people. 

First, upon entering the gallery and hearing someone yelling, I was like, "oh no, not more video art". But upon further viewing, and the fact that the work this gallery exhibits always gets me to spend some time and slow down and take in the work, I always end up finding work that intrigues me and keeps my brain thinking. Upon reading what the artist was accomplishing in this video, I immediately felt it to be better than 90% of the other video art I have seen over the years. His yelling and dancing were choreographed moves of a medicine man or other types of "creator-beings".

Side Note: While writing this, I suddenly felt the desire to put the headphones on and listen to some ELEH, which you too can hear here. As I often feel ELEH is also a "creator-being", but of the sound world.

As I sat on the gallery floor to partake in the viewing of this piece. I was at first very interested in the technical side of things, from the 4 cameras being used to film this, to how the editing plays out over the length of the piece.

Once beyond all the technical garb, I was able to get to the meat and bones of this film. What I perceived was a modern medicine man, at a hilltop Lowes business, and his constant barrage of sound and fury being a way to subvert big business and in some ways even to put a curse on said business. I couldn't help but laugh a few times as I was feeling the flow of Aaron's bombardment toward the sign and therefore the company. I remember telling the gallery owner how I felt he was putting a curse on Lowes and we should keep an eye out for that company to see if it works. Only time will tell, and we really won't know if it was Aaron's doing or not.

I don't know if this film will ever see a broader release, maybe something on youtube, but that would negate the value of the artwork, but I feel that if more people took the 10 minutes to check this out, they would being to want to learn more about these "creator-beings" and how they manifest their magic.

From the galleries press release: "Within the animist belief system of Indigenous Australians, a songline, also called dreaming track, is one of the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky) which mark the route followed by localised ‘creator-beings’. The paths of the songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance, and painting. When Aaron Garber-Maikovska sets out to make a video he packs a van with equipment and a cameraman, leaves his studio in Gardena, LA and heads East. He drives in search of frontiers between the urban landscape and the Californian desert, a spot where he can position himself, center of a makeshift stage, surrounded by the attributes suburbia, and record himself forging a new song, story and dance. Every video is shot in a different location and form a sort of mapping of the Inland Empire around Los Angeles."

Check out the video AND the work by Zak Kitnick "C&D" until June 26th. So there is still plenty of time. Though I wouldn't wait too long, there is a good chance that upon first view, you might get the desire to visit again and you don't wanna be too late for that second viewing.

Be sure to read the full press release before partaking in the exhibitions, they will give you so much more to think about upon viewing than regular press releases do. These ones actually help.


Max Frintrop at Lyles & King

One of the first galleries I knew I wanted to visit when I got to NYC this time was heading down to Forsyth and go to see Max Frintrop's paintings at Lyles & King. First thing I want to mention is the atmosphere of the gallery. Not many really have an atmosphere, they are just big ass rooms. This space has a character and rawness to it that really works with the paintings. You walk from outside down into this room with very low headroom. I mean VERY low. If you are over 6 feet tall you are going to walk around with your head down in the entry of this gallery. The big space is in the back of the gallery, walking down the hand hewed beams that make up the stairs is just totally engaging for me, I had to spend my time admiring the architecture of the space, and once that was taken in, I was then able to really take in the paintings.

Instead of giving you the typical art talk about painting. What I want to give you is more of a photo essay on these paintings, photos you won't see anywhere else, my own personal choices of details I thought you the viewer might find interesting. Hopefully getting you to desire to see these in person just as I did.

I personally feel that if critics like Harold Rosenberg had seen this, they would have been praising it. It's quite amazing action painting. Even though no one really uses that term anymore.

Text from Alex Bacon from the press release for the exhibition: "Lately Frintrop has been pushing the quality of liquidity inherent in his use of ink as his medium of choice. The resulting works are simultaneously pared down (without being reductive) and more spatial, in a pictorial sense. In some paintings forms tumble over one another, and rush towards the viewer, while in others a built up assemblage of marks are threatened by an aqueous shimmering that dissolves the legibility of its structure. In still other paintings a tight grouping of marks surge in a particular direction, upwards, and to left, right, or center. At times they even collide, causing a spectacular pictorial event to unfold near the center of the canvas."

There was something that made the viewing in the front room like snuggling up in a comfy blanket. I guess it was because of the low ceiling that the painting was forced to be in the middle of the wall and because of this, the viewing was much more like you might catch if you were in the artists studio, with the paintings propped up on paint cans. Really gives viewing in this room a direct and comfortable experience. Would love to personally make a nice 12 foot wide painting and put it there. 

Now go hop in your speedwagon and get down there, the exhibition closes June 5th.

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Columbus, Ohio, United States