February 1, 2005


OK party people... words failed me when I posted this.

And maybe it's not so bad to restrain my blabbermouth tendencies. The ability to talk at length about artwork can be a mask for shortcomings of one kind or another. Not that I really held anything back as I posted the pics here... I felt it wiser to let the lag happen. I'm sure could have filled you all in on the grapples I have had with this painting: the series of decision trees, the forks at every turn in the road that led me there. Live blogging becons once in a while and the prospect of showcasing my many doubts and quandries makes me shudder. I guess I should consider the ways to avoid these pitfalls, I really don't know right now.

Here, I was thinking about the promise of the areas of paint delivered in a mass and scraped off again, flattened. The strength of my paintings (historically, my personal history) tended towards the intimate and painting in a larger scale was a challenge in that I had to work away from what (I considered) was the innate strengths of the prior work. The fruit of my summer work (shown at Mark M?ller's gallery in Z?rich last August) was the development of pillows of paint (sorry if my language is strange, I look for names to tag the features of my work) so that I could free myself of the overall sheets of paint that prefigured all my former paintings. By the end of the summer, I alighted upon a way to push the paint on and scrape it off again so that I could claim larger chunks of the painting's surface. The clot and scrum of paint forms that typically informed my work could then articulate in a different way. As my friend Joanne Greenbaum said recently, the work opened up.

Whe I started this painting, I had notions, preconceptions that were disposed of one after the other and I felt my way over to this field of marks. What was in my mind's eye was a bit of a former painting with an enlarged flattened form taking up a significant area of the canvas... kind of like a Monique Prieto painting... with whiskers like Al Capp's blobby figures (what were they called?). But somehow, thinking long enough of Monique's work was enough of a deterrent to keep from miming her formally. To create the large areas of color, one has to mix a mound of paint, a huge mound if you want a huge area of color.... and somehow, I have an inhibition to mixing a pile a paint that is larger than my head in volume. And that is a big volume already!

So what happened was I kept to the cabeza sized vloumes and threw down heads of paint one after the other, trying to claim the entire surface of the canvas, steering away from the muralist strategy and the weeks and weeks of time that entails. And as I did this, I refrained from figuring, using repeatable forms and distributing them so that field was favored over figure. I didn't want to localize the fight in this painting and thus get bogged down in one part of the canvas. The strategies I used in older, smaller work wouldn't help me in these larger canvases. (Maybe, I could be wrong I guess.)

Well, here we are. (Let me take a break an stew on what I'm typing on here.... BLOPOST IN PROGESS YET AGAIN)

Posted by Dennis at February 1, 2005 9:33 PM


Hi Dennis. Thanks for the reply a while back. I'm always looking through your blog but these days don't have much to say--the head being full of figures, quotes, pushes and shoves, eventually, materially, rolling out a new studio for here.

Glad you are over the flu. It can be a pain but beneficial too. I see flu like this, as two arranging things: One is less a thing and more a place, a crossroad. The other is a sting gun. When you get to the first, the place, this other thing comes down: it?s big and nasty and comes out of nowhere. Its job is to sting all-over a bunch of unwanted stuff--memory, whatever.

When the crossroad has stopped spinning and the gun evaporated, there?s nothing much left to think about except to get up, and, for instance, paint a great big fresh painting.

Hey there Brent!

It's good to hear from you. I don't know exactly why i'm feeling all so non verbal about the work all of a sudden. It's good to "hear" your verbal-in-my-head voice, I like how you refract conceptually, "...two arranging things..." for example.

A new studio? How exciting!

Thinking of Japan. Today, we watched "Tampopo" again. I love it. I didn't realise that it was shot in 1985, my first year out of undergrad school in LA. Great movie, I love his digressions, the yam sausage moment at the end.

All the best to you,


Very interesting last set of links, Dennis, under "rethinking the present". It almost could read "thinking in the present" which really is what the best painting is all about: always being there with the work in its flow, upheavals, and so on so forth: at the same time at a distance and depth. I'm a great advocate for looking and taking in what is actually there in a shot--mechanisms firing just as they should--off kilter, even when dead on.

Why and how come? Probably the incredible nature of painting, I figure, whether it be one painted yesterday or a century ago is that a picture has the ability to expand beyond its frame when the parts from which it's made creates a taught vibratory field. OR FLAT! Flat doesn't serve the canvas or the marks on it. Instead flat serves another space just in front of the canvas. This flat offers a deeper more complex, baffling, edifying, soothing, space than the isolated visual riddles that have gone on in to construct the work. Riddles are the pleasure zone (imagine a naked car that when started up avails you to every detail; every spark and turn), transparent, though, without the cover and chassis too complex to take in, all in one shot. The individuality of parts and the unity of the drive (of the whole) that produces contradiction may not be resolved but enjoyed in this flat. This FLAT is a non-place displaying like a monitor the deeper mechanics of painting and its attended perception. (These) things come together. No one thing sticks out. From here to there it?s possible to see all in a non-time, in non-space. The place of good painting, the Field of Equilibrated tour de-force.

Ah, so it's a little rant. But it's about painting and your posted image spurred it on.

Dennis did you see A Taxing Woman and Yen Family, the other two in the trilogy?

Best regards

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