September 17, 2017


Due to a malfunction of a titanium white pigment (manufacturer: Daler Rowney Georgian), I have had to fix some paintings over recent years. The problem is not consistent, some paintings from the same year go bad and some age fine. And what is "going bad"? The oil refuses to coagulate and separates from the pigment, forming what I call "tears" after 5-8 years of welling up in a glisten.

When the painting is in my possession, I have solved the problem by accepting it, invoking the Duchampian-Broken-Large-Glass protocol. Japanese wabi-sabi. Kintsugi. Inspired by the little cups attached to the bottom of Spanish jamon, used to catch drippings of fat, I fashioned little cups of my own and suspended them with wire from the bottom of the affected paintings. Here's a recent example. I think they look fabulous. (Click here to see what I am seeing in the image above.) Too bad that I haven't been able to convince my collectors of this fix so far. I understand that they want the painting that they paid for in the first place.

But, c'mon people! ;-)

When a collector calls my attention to the problem, I do everything I can to fix it. Mostly, it has been easy. I dry the tears with Q-Tips and cotton swabs. I use as little solvent as possible. I then remove the bad paint and replace it entirely with a new formulation composed of a walnut oil based titanium white, which dries whiter and is seemingly free of this problem. I've been testing this method for five years now with good results. But when the problematic white is in the foundation of the painting, I have to get drastic. I tear the canvas off and repaint a new identical painting. A scalping. The Shroud of Turin. I've done this about five times so far, and nearly always, the painting scalped becomes fabulous to my eye. Hallucinatory. The kind of shredded distress that I have been trying to evoke in recent work happens naturally in the scalped canvases.

The question is how to take this inspiration and go forward with it. The problem is that these paintings are well dried. They "begin" with an aged history of being stretched to panels. They are usually glued to the panels, requiring me to wrestle them off of them with brute force. This leaves marks and effects that are impossible and futile to pull off de novo. You can't fake these things.

I'm still dwelling on this challenge.

Please stay tuned.

Here is the original painting above, pre-scalping. Title here. I have numbered the scalped painting #545, same title.

Below the fold, the repainted gemelo...

Moving with the Mind A Wander
91x76 cm

Posted by Dennis at September 17, 2017 4:49 PM

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