July 1, 2022

Breadcrumbs 2


About "Make Me Iliad":

I see abstraction and figuration as twin bearings of a shared continuum. So, I would prefer not to untangle them and to see one in relation to the other.

In a discourse that has long since exhausted today's art world, I left grad school during the "death of painting" debates. A proof of life was needed, I thought. I sought my own realization of an afterlife of painting in the specific material of impasto oil after a singular moment in the studio when I lifted a palette knife from a mass and marveled at how the surface tension spent itself out into a diminishing tendril of paint. I did it again, and again and so my first "monad" was created, a name borrowed from Leibniz's "atomic" individuals. Together with the monads, a few more instances of other paint forms together made enough of a vocabulary to encourage me to continue on to this day.

Given that abstraction is both a reduction of visuality and a multiplication of materiality... and that figuration is inescapable either by signaling or pareidolia, I remember thinking that when I place paint down on a canvas and scrape it up with a knife, it leaves a kind of print behind on the surface... that those resultant images could be related to forms above them with some planning... and that together they could both rain down from above or evaporate into clouds above.

Is there a person? I'm delighted that you would suggest this. Given enough time, all art objects tends towards dissolution, save the pyramids. The first to be lost to time is the artist's intentions. From my point to view, the greater an art object, the more it can contain the meanings projected from future generations. Yes, there is a bit of symmetry, a slight suggestion of eyes. Clearly, I did this. Clearly, I had intended the signal even at such small amplitudes. Eyes, yes, looking back, even a head, brains, thoughts swirling? I accept the figure of person!

As for the title, all paintings require titles of course. With vanishingly rare exceptions, I title all my works after I make them by combing through my weblog roughly during the period of its' making. Like a douser looking for water (aka "water witching"), the words will insist themselves into the title from the screen. This has never failed me. For every work that I complete, I post an image of it in the blog and include a hyperlink to the source page of the title. I trust that if I am so very lucky, someday a researcher would be interested enough to follow the trail of breadcrumbs that I have left behind in my online diary.

In the instance of "Make Me Iliad", I had blogged about liking the work of Mary Reid Kelly after seeing her show at Frieze. The title of her video was "You Make Me Iliad", I with fingers crossed, I hoped that eliminating "You" would be enough to make it mine while simultaneously pointing to her. The subject of her video was of the WWI, of soldiers, prostitutes and nurses... and I had been in the Navy when I was a lad, so there was some level of resonance there. Also, I love the Iliad.

I love how Homer balanced the heroic and tragic and how particularly wretched the latter was treated in his poem. In the physicality of my painting, I see a similar trembling fragility in how the forms of paint are formed and sheared, stomped, deformed. Life dances, flickers and all too soon it's over.



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.


Make Me Iliad
The originating blogpost documenting this painting into my inventory.

Frieze Keepsake
The source of the title. We can see how fragile the internet is for posterity, the Youtube link and the two other hyperlinks in the post no longer function.

The website of Mary Reid and Patrick Kelly

You Make Me Iliad, Art 21 in Youtube.

Posted by Dennis at July 1, 2022 10:48 AM

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