July 1, 2022

Breadcrumbs 1


As part of my practice, I reap the titles of my paintings from my weblog.

In the Spring of 2007, Leland de la Durantaye wrote an essay in Cabinet Magazine titled "BEING THERE, On the trail of Heidegger". I had linked to it in a September 19, 2007 blogpost, an insightful essay regarding the famously cryptic phenomenological philosopher. In the piece, he included Hannah Arendt's curious fable "Heidegger the Fox". As my eyes scanned the blogpost, I alighted on the passage "...so many fall into my trap; I have become the best of all foxes..."

Given that my understanding of Heidegger is always evolving, I appreciate that he is saying that Western Civilization is fundamentally myopic, overly given to instrumental reasoning, as de la Durantaye wrote. I understand this better now than in 2007, but my intuition seems firm throughout the years that the thought process that could declare painting dead is itself in a dead end. Therefore the way out of our particular cul de sac was a path outside, an avenue that was a focus on something like the being of painting.

In Arendt's fable, Heidegger "...built himself a trap as a den, pretended it was a normal den (not out of cunning but because he had always taken the traps of others for their dens). The trap was only big enough for him. Nobody could fall into his trap, because he was sitting in it himself..."

The stickiness of impasto paint is my trap, and it is a very cozy one indeed. The thing about wet into wet painting is that the sequence of one action into the next is not endlessly recombinant. Laying paint into a pattern, picking it up and laying it down again will not bring you back to the initial state anew. Like the entropic flow of time, each new condition is irreversible. Black line and color fill, once sliced up, reveals a printed image. A sweep of paint knifed flat in planes like weather systems from coast to coast, covering up the landscape. Scooping up the sheet of paint will not bring you back to the previous imagery. Paint comes out of the tubes in refined states. Paint laid down and picked up again complicates things in the direction from whence it came, from mud. There are only so many acts of mixing that can occur until the wall of dullness arrives. Even oil paint dries even though this can take some time, and when a skin begins to set, the ability to lick butter soft one color into the next becomes truncated. The clock is ticking. No do-overs allowed, the virgin canvas allows only one go. Entanglement, enmeshment, entrapment, a cozy den in all of this.

Once the major notes are established, punctuation. A Gulf Stream of paint swirls into eddies here and there, enforcing the constraints of pictorial law. With new tools, baby fisted balled up daubers made from rags, paint is stomped into flowers, letting color come up from the substrate into blooms here and there. Stiff paper peeled from the palette renders fractal patterns that can sweep across the canvas. Monads, hemispheres made of arrays of tendrils, rain across the landscape, pointing up color notes along the way. All of this muster collides one into the other within the limits of coherence, ensnared, entangled, enmeshed. Snug as a bug. A home worthy of the best of all foxes.



I've had a couple of requests for an artist statement regarding paintings that I made several years ago. If you drill down into the third or fourth paragraphs of the blogpost Hyperlinked Apologetics, you can understand that this post is an object example of what I was saying there. Basically, I'm modeling what I hope that an interested public would do after I'm not around to perform the research myself.

Every work of art is in constant motion, either towards a museum or towards the land fill. If an artist is fortunate, a collector will provide sanctuary pieces of their oeuvre. This is a custodianship when an artwork is invested with enough value to survive multiple lifetimes. During the lifetime of a collector/custodian, the piece might be hung in a valued place in their home, a living room, a bedroom. Artworks compete for wall space. Living room, hallway, garage. Every art work must argue on its own for its survival after the artist passes away. These breadcrumbs are evidence for the courtroom.


Best of All Foxes
Here, you might notice that back in 2007, I hadn't yet employed the hyperlinked title strategy yet. Don't have the time at the moment to scroll through the archive to see when I started the practice, but I'll put the task in my to-do list.

It Was Kinda Like That
This post was about how "Best of All Foxes" put me through the paces.

Trapping Hey Digger
This is the source of the title for "Best of All Foxes".

BEING THERE, On the trail of Heidegger
This is the link to the article mentioned in my statement.

Posted by Dennis at July 1, 2022 10:44 AM

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