November 29, 2003

So Mom Said...

So Mom said: "It looks like meat."


Posted by Dennis at 9:06 PM | Comments (0)


These paintings proceed as a series and sequence of applications and edits. Every placement of paint has a good and not so good aspect to it. By covering or cutting, I remove the not so good parts. Finally, there's a point where I don't want to change any part of the painting, as good a definition as anything of being done.
I assume then, it must be that such a painting is full of goodness.

What follows is a lunar landing:

While the lighting has a yellow cast to it, I adjust it here with PhotoShop. This is an ochre painting, lightened.
Nothing ever goes exactly, exactly the way I envision it, and I guess I'm lucky that way.
Forms and deformations. Corporeality.
That's why I named some paintings: "Carnitas". Not because I like carnitas Mexicanos... but because I like the direct reference to flesh. Carne. Incarnate. Carnal. Carnivorous.
Unavoidable, mutable, mortal physical reality.

Posted by Dennis at 9:01 PM | Comments (0)

In Progress

I'm about halfway into it...

The goal is to make every square centimeter, full of intention.
...or something like that.

I tack back and forth from control to chaos and back again.
...or something like that.

This is like a smart bomb as opposed to the cluster bomb of old. It's still a bomb /it's still paint, there's just more information per unit area this time.
...or something like that.
But seriously, folks... ( I was only half joking though, or trying to deflate the pretentiousness whilst keeping what is still important.)

Right about now, I'm thinking about how I can rachet up the compression of form and actions, grouping them into the upper center so that there is enough field and background left to contrast with the compressed and ?ber-modeled superform.

Action painting belonged to the 50's abstract expressionists. This is not that. This is action-adventure painting.

(Woo hoo! Pardon the bravado again. Temerity is a hazard of the profession.)

Posted by Dennis at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

WTC: Egyptoid

Ok, Ok... I just had to see what it would look like if I buffed it off a little, and made it simpler.

Mass and stone. Heavy blocks, maybe it could be constructed out of cast cubic concrete and moved on in individually massive units, thirty foot sugar cubes transported like Easter Island heads, high technology manual labor. Even if it were cast in place, maybe the reinforcing bars could be set deeper within the forms and the dimensions of the formwork could be monumental: walls ten and twenty feet thick or more, floors five and fifteen feet thick. This program is new to me, so I'm limited to the color and texture options. I chose something closer to coffee colored concrete.

Sand. Eternity. I wanted to point to the ancient Egyptian architecture as an indication of the direction of this design, but not to be mawkish about it. A wink, but seriousness too.

This might be a good foil for Daniel Liebskind's bookish, contemporary, cold intellectualist forms surrounding it.

Imagine the Glass rails distintegrating over time. A contrast of the mass and base, with lighter, more ephemeral elements meant to serve contemporary needs, and clearly meant to blow away. Tents, ropes, modular portable platforms, tensile structures, trade fair furnishings. Land fill filler.

This is it, I'm moving on now. Promise.

Posted by Dennis at 10:16 PM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2003

World Trade Center Memorial

So here I was, sitting on the plane on our way to LA to see family... and I'm reading about the World Trade Center Memorial Competition Finalists in the NYTimes.

(NYTimes, Thursday, November 20, 2003, A28-29)

I got a little nostalgic for the old architectural crits. I love the whole drama of an architectural presentation, it's a beautiful thing. Reading the series of articles recalled this pleasure for me.

Two issues stood out: Herbert Muschamp had it right, all of the designs were cluttered, frenetic with frou frous and gee gaws. There's a kind of anxiety that induces a nervous chatter in the designs. There are profound whispers in this site. Quiet down people, and we might hear them.

Secondly, everyone acknowledges that the original footprints of the site are sacred. It's kind of like the Pearl Harbour Memorial, few or no designs can substitute for an artifact so charged with the gravitas of history. There was talk about going down to touch bedrock, but I didn't see it in any design.

So... guess what?

I've got this here new fangled drawing program in my laptop.... why not fiddle around to see if I can design the WTC Memorial myself? As we flew enroute to LA, seat 9e on American Airlines, I started drawing, then again the next night as the family conversation settled down, for three hours or so... then again in the flight back to Dallas.

And wala! Here's my design:


The idea is to keep it simple: to gather the public atop a mesa or plinth to demark and figure the site, to make a way for people to walk into the footprint of the towers and touch bedrock. This design is too ornate, to be sure. This is the first swing at the beast after all. If this was developed, further iterations would polish off the excess.

Once people are down touching bottom, they gather and compress into the subterranian lobby (I remember an Alvar Aalto's theater, and Louis Kahn's museum that lowered ceilings and muscularized structure to do this) and plunged up (theatrically) via 25 foot wide elevators, up 83' back to the surface. This procession can be run in either direction for either narrative: to reckon with grief or to embrace hope.
This view illustrates the circulation. Please note that the shopping (yes, there will be a shopping program involved here, this indicated in red) is separated from the memorial entrance on West Streeet (note too, the appropriate associations with the cardinal direction) with an entrance on Liberty Street and another at the opposite corner (Greenwich and Fulton) as it wraps around the elevator shafts like a snake (no particular symbolism intended).
By theatrical, I mean that the mechanics of the elevator is meant to disappear as much as possible. I imagine people would assemble on a grid square and as the platform would initiate a downward movement, a glass wall would emerge simultaneously, finally sliding up high enough to discourage anyone from jumping over it into the resulting 85 foot pit. I recall the super cool doors on the starship Enterprise in TV's StarTrek. Whoosh! As the elevator would come up, the wall would come down simultaneously, resulting in the magical realism of an apprarition of people on the surface.
The experience down in the tower footprint should be simple and stark. I drew stairs on the North Tower and ramps on the South Tower, but I just drew fast and left the fullest expression of this idea for later (if there should ever be a later). There are many permutations (stairs plus ramps, many combinations of numbers of circulation, etc.). The interior of the tower pits should be simple masonry and any ritual scribing of wall surfaces should be on the interior of the circulation spaces where people can touch them.
Indeed the site should be built ancient Egyptian style, monumental blocks of masonry, with the fantasy intention that all of New York could be swept away thousands of years hence and these blocks and pits could remain like StoneHenge.

Ohhh yeaaa, this felt... gooood.

An old muscle stretched and made a little more limber, once again.

Posted by Dennis at 10:13 AM | Comments (2)

November 21, 2003

Miyajima the DMA and the Nasher

Tatsuo Miyajima is having a show up at my gallery Andr? Buchmann in K?ln, so I thought I would go to the museum and shoot a pic of a piece that is on exhibit here. The Dallas Museum of Art is right down the street from our loft. (The guard told me not to shoot a pic, so as I was putting the camera away, oops!)

I met Tatsuo at Andr?'s and Bettina's wedding last year. I like him, a real interesting guy. He reminds me of some of my uncles.
Whoopsy daisy! The camera is so tricky.
I only had a short time before Stephanie and I had to go to the airport, so I jetted around to check out the Richard Tuttle:
Tuttle is supercool. This piece reminds me of Tom Sachs' foamcore work (his site is on the Soup of Links to the left).
Then I scooted outside to shoot a pic of the new Nasher Sculpture museum.
Renzo Piano, one of my favorite living architects.

He makes me want to roll the "R"... RRRRenzo. Renzo Piaaaaano.

And I'm off! See you guys laters.

Posted by Dennis at 3:48 PM | Comments (0)

Mingster Two

The background, base painting here comes from an earlier body of work I called "Glaze Paintings". They were Alkyd resin based mediums tinted with oil paint colors. In that body of work, I would pull sheets of tinted resin across the canvas, building a painting slowly... then, I would cut a frisket and prcisely stencil what amounted to notations of the underlying base. It's a long story.

The short story is that I have resumed the base painting here in trying to get at the inspiration that hit me recently in NYC: the Ming paintings.

I'm a little rushed now because Stephanie and I flying off to LA this weekend to see her Dad, who is battling a tough illness. So far, he's doing good, but it's touch and go.

So, Here are the images of the work on paper I finished last night in the very wee hours of the morning.

Posted by Dennis at 1:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003

Head Shot


...after staring at the walls for a little too long.

I'm thinking of portraiture schema for this next six panels that I had built so thinly over the summer (Thin, by my standards). I'm looking back over the first couple of paintings I did over the summer for inspiration. Basically, I want a knot of paint against a field, a knot that swarms around the articulation of a face.

Bacon in reverse.

The first thing I did was scrape off an old painting, the first one I did on this group, one that has been hanging on the wall since September. (BlogPost September 4, 2003)
Everytime I looked at it, I wanted to scrape it down and start again.

So I did.

As you can see, I'm carrying on with the flower like forms.

I'm not done with them yet.
The colors in this one was a wrestle. Most of the time, I think in terms of color compliments and tonality. I want to make choices that expand the painting experience so I can get this crushing density. From this, I guess I think there is a way that a series of color choices can bring the experience to an end. I tack back and forth between these polarities and when I reach the density I'm looking for, I bank the shot towards a more dominant color... even if it's only slightly dominant.

Don't hold me to this.

Posted by Dennis at 6:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2003


Here's the first work on paper exploring the thoughts inspired in the past New York trip.

This approach takes a little time because the underpainting requuires some drying time and a few layers to boot.
These images are a tiny bit yellow from these midnoght halogens. Just a bit.
Time for bed. More exposition later.

Posted by Dennis at 1:16 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2003

Shocking Thoughts

John Rockwell writes in the NYTimes:

?The Chapmans' and Ms. Finley's art may or may not be great, but in the end all art must seek to disturb and provoke. Of course, there are deliberate provocateurs, sometimes for overt careerist ends. But what counts is the art. Great art is always shocking. ?

Well, is it? Is shock an essential condition defining art? It seem so today as the art world has merged with the media/commercial/institutional world.

I read Robert Hughes' ?Shock of the New?* too, and I found it to be a compelling account of the emergence of contemporary art from the mists of history. This book is as good as any other to be the representattive of John rockwell's mindset.

Here?s what I take from Robert Hughes? account, it?s the same story we hear in the darkened slide lecture classrooms of our youth:

1. Once upon a time there was a status quo.
2. Then someone questioned it either overtly or subtly... what was taken as a norm was exhausted
3. And someone went their own way, and everyone followed, eventually forming their own status quo
4. Repeat

In short, society forms a coagulant of patterns and habitude, the fabric of culture. It?s art that rips the scab and keeps life fresh.

Now, it is perfectly reasonable to look at this schema and conclude that the rupture is the art.... especially when you are rewarded by a mediated-super-information-market environment that rewards those who can generate the greatest audience share. But is this the only conclusion?

Shock is tough to manage, it may be best to think of it as a strip tease, lest you bore the audience. If art is shock, then art doesn?t last very long. Art becomes the briefly explosive punctuations in a boring life. But what happens if patterns of rupture become routinized? What happens if methods of shock are extrapolated and exhausted? What happens when it becomes predictable and boring? What then?

Instead of seeing an imperative to shock, I find it helpful to look at the story of art and see what underlies the impulse to shock: the assertion of individual vision, the refusal to conform to the status quo, the courage to go one?s own way. Nonconformism is shocking to the herd because the herd might go another way and you might be left out. We are afraid to be alone and we despise the loner who chooses freely.

I?ve heard once from a friend in grad school another definition of art (Marcus Adams, I?m not sure if this is his creation or he heard this from another): art is that which is presented to others for there aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetics in this case is best understood by a comparison with the term anesthetic, the numbing of the senses. Aesthetics, then is the fullness of the senses.

Art in this approach is the celebration of individual imagination, a democracy of vision. This, the positive alternative to the nihilistic rapids that John Rockwell and the status quo of contemporary art offers, an art of negation. This, an art of affirmation.

In this way, shock becomes an effect and not the cause. Shock will happen anyhow and maybe after all that we have become jaded to, it might be smart these days to look at the more subtle levels to experience the effects of rupture.

Shock becomes a symptom of the art of the West, the discomfort of accommodating the independent individual vision. Art may be shocking, but shock isn't art.

*Robert Hughes, ?Shock of the New?, a lively introduction to the emergence of modern art in the twentieth century...

Posted by Dennis at 10:20 PM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2003

Hi Mom!

On the ocassion of my mom's first laptop/high speed internet connection, a big hug sent out to her in this blogpost. Hi Mom! Here's pics of the loft here in Texas! (Don't worry, I'm just playing around with the facial hair... er, all the hair, I guess. I tease Stephanie, telling her that the beard won't sting so much once it gets long and soft.) Here's a tour:

Stepping out the door, I want to show you and my pals what this loft looks like form the outside. This is a shot standing just outside the front door.
Panning right....
Then, I step across the street to shoot the building the loft is in. We live on the ground floor, the glass block surround.
Then I cross the street again to catch the downtown Dallas skyline. You can see the loft in stripes at the bottom.
And at that moment, my neighbor pops his head out of his door to ask for a copy of the picture. He and his kids run a restaurant that's a super cool cabaret style banquet hall. Lots of live music, people in high style.
...and back to the studio, a shot just stepping inside the door.

Posted by Dennis at 5:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

Old+New School

I'm using alyd resin again, laying down a base painting for the sake of the inspiration found in the Chinese Ming paintings I saw earlier in New York. Sometimes, eyes are bigger than the stomach and we shall see if there's a slip betwixt the cup and the lip. One way or the other, it's best to see it through and find it out in the flesh.

Where am i going? see if I can mix this:
...with this:

Posted by Dennis at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

S+A's Work in the Studio

I've been having trouble uploading these images, I hope they work.
These are the latest and greatest current work from Aaron and Sharon's studio. Check out their websites at the Soup of Links to the left!

Posted by Dennis at 8:38 PM | Comments (0)

Notes from Houston

A visit with Sharon and Aaron is a constant flow of communication, conversations that are heady, deep, wide ranging, inflected with humor... Suffice it to say that this is a visit to a fraternal well where the water is muy fresca. We drank lustily till our bellies were happily swollen.

The original plan for the trip was to sit in on a conference arranged by the Fellows of the Glassel School. The topic was something about criticism, curation and the artworld (or some such thing) and the participants were Tom Lawson, Annika Marie and Michelle Grabner (among others). Over time, the organizers thought that it was best to close the conference to the wider public and we kept our plans to visit Houston since a visit with Aaron and Sharon would kick the ass of any conference in terms of content anyway.

Too much was said to summarize, but I can try to recall the shape of certain themes that emerged over the weekend:

1. This Leviathan of our global artworld, the sprawling beast it is. I was in the middle of reading the current ArtForum (a rarity, unfortunately) an this expresses the idea neatly, from Francesco Bonami in ?Global Tendencies?, p.155:

?I feel very close to the idea of the bigness that Rem Koolhaas applies to architecture: A building is not a building anymore but something else, with a plurality of functions. Similarly, an exhibition, when taken to a certain scale, is no longer an exhibition but a plurality of visions. When, in the New York Times? Michael Kimmelman pines for a reduced Venice Bienalle of a dozen or even a few dozen artists, he is dreaming of a museum show-which isn?t what Bienalles and Documentas are about.?

2. The assumption of the current geist that the art system is everything... the subject and media of all relevent artmaking. I think this was pegged by Schimmel?s LAMOCA show ?Public Offerings? where one of the writers for the catalog, Katie Siegal echoed Dave Hickey in the observation that the Oedipal turn is over and now Saturn is eating his children.

3. The wide recognition of the increasingly manic career chasing upward mobility of the younger generation (artworld or no) and what this does to content. An example: The popularity of young artist-run galleries by recent graduates of the art schools in Chicago is so great that there is a dearth of art material to be found in the studios, in or out of school.

Add to this, the phenomena that there is precious little to read in the art magazines anymore. The big question is: where?s the dialog? At least, that is what we were dialogin?. Certainly, the dialog is healthy at the small, one to one scales. Where is the dialog at the other, bigger scales... or better: between the big and small scales?

4. I finally met Lane Relyea and his wife Annika Marie, both writers. We had a very short time to talk, but I look forward to more later. If you?ve been keeping up on this blog, I enthused over his essay published recently in X-Tra magazine, September 18th (a ?zine more than a mag).

Here?s Lane writing about Frank O?Hara and the gang at the Cedar Bar in ?15 PARAGRAPHS ON THE ART OF HANGING OUT AND MAKING THE SCENE?:
?But on a basic level their attraction to speech must surely have had something to do with the fact that this was the first time in their lives, and in the life of the visual arts in America, that a tight and robust artistic community existed, one that was bound and sustained precisely by the artists talking to one another.?

5. Scale. That?s the difference between the times of artists swiggin beer in New York (or Montmartre or communities in between) and today. Modernity dilates life and everything has swelled in scale over the years. Stephanie and I were in New York on the occasion of fashion?s market week. Stephanie was talking to her pals and the idea of how much the fashion world has changed in the past fifteen to twenty years: no longer a few merchants, manufacturers, and salespeople... now the field is huge and the competition is enormous. This is the same everywhere. But is this bad or is this just different?

The problem should not be about innocence lost because too much nostalgia is unacceptable, a renunciation of life. The question is about human scale. The art dialog in the global scale of international art magazines, art fairs and institutions is similar to urban human interaction in the scales of the modern city, dilated by the influence of technological prothesis such as the automobile. Like the loss of human scaled urban centers, or the inability today to build these anew... there is a legitimate desire to build the artworld equivalent of a pedestrian community without succumbing to artifice. The underlying consensus in our conversations that weekend is that the artworld dialog is weak at this level.

6. Open sets and closed sets. Making art with the open set is an age old tradition. Rosalind Krauss?s Sculpture in the Expanded Field sets the argument for something that?s been going on back to Jarry?s pistol shots in the bars of Paris. Eric Swenson?s sculpture is a good example. He is open to any new technique and approach with each new project, and he prefers it that way. But as he said in his recent talk, he soon finds himself wrestling with the limitations of reality as the the project progresses.. and he is keen to find the good things that come of it. Closed sets prevail, even when the artist seeks the open one.

I like painting because of the closed set of it all. So, I had better get to it. It?s time to close the set of these Houston notes.

Posted by Dennis at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2003

Lat Night's Scribbling

11 09 03 house overview.jpg
More thoughts about the courtyard scheme.
11 09 03 house.jpg
A studio that faces north thru a courtyard, a "house" that tucks into the studio with a bedroom, a garage with a stash yard that frames the open space.

11 09 03 house interior.jpg

Posted by Dennis at 3:22 PM | Comments (0)


Stephanie and I had a great time visiting our longtime pals Aaron Parazette and Sharon Englestein in Houston last weekend. We went to grad school together, and they are almost the only reason why I feel good about paying my student loan.
We went to their studios and checked out their new digs. They've just moved there recently. We saw the art sites: checked out the Menil's exhibit of Malevich, the Flavin permanent installation, a Paper Show at DiverseWorks, stuff like that.

Posted by Dennis at 3:15 PM | Comments (0)

I Feel the Power

My good pal, Sharon Englestein has helped me figure out enough HTML to fix the links section of the blog.

It's like finally fixing a slightly broken car that you've been driving in for too long.

Now, I can see the matrix too.

(She's so generous. Thanks, Sharon!)

Posted by Dennis at 10:31 AM | Comments (2)

November 6, 2003

Playing... Romping

house 1.jpg
I found this great new drawing program on the web. It's what I've been waiting for, an intuitive and easy to use architecture modeling/drawing program... that kicks the ass of the early engineer-oriented cad programs that has transformed architecture in the past twenty years.

These are the drawings I did on the first eight hour trial use of the program. Remember, I dropped into this thing cold.
house 1~.jpg

So I tried to blast out some crude ideas I've been nursing about a studio/home for the future. Program: studio, house (like an apartment), and garage/storage. In the previous one, the enclosure of a compund was what I was thinking. The next two are about something that grows over time, as we can afford it.
house 2.jpg
A house on one end that's super modestly small. A studio on the other side. The interesting thing is to think of growing the landscape into the architecture. (I should have put trees into the model.)
house 2 later.jpg

Posted by Dennis at 3:16 PM | Comments (0)


The first thing we did when we flew into the JFK late in the afternoon was to see Joanne Greenbaum?s show at D?Amelio+Terras. It was the very last hours of her show there. I met Joanne in Basel several years ago when Peter Pakesch curated us into ?Nach Bild?, a group show at the Kunsthalle there.

Joanne paints in this super thin, sometimes transparent oils. I like how her work pops from a distance, something I need to pay more attention to. She composes like I do in an accretion of forms that torque into an argument. (Well, that's one way to see it.)

Two of these works were painted at a residency Joanne did at Skowhegan recently. She deliberately painted large scale work to arrest the eyeballs. And it worked. People saw the show, there was talk and she was reviewed a few times. Recently, when I tuned into the ArtForum website, one of her paintings was reproduced on the home page.
Joanne is supercool.

Posted by Dennis at 2:58 PM | Comments (0)


Here are some of the old ink work I was doing...

These two are smaller than the palm of your hand.

Posted by Dennis at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)

Passion for the Mountain

Here are examples of some of the images that inspired me this week. There is a similar agitation of line and mass that I see here. I had read the review in the NYTimes a month ago and I clipped it hoping to get to NYC before the show was over. I had opened up my Sumi ink work again after a hiatus and I ws looking them over shortly before travelling. As I was looking at the exhibition, I had immediate thoughts of how I can paint new work. Washes and clouds of alkyd glazes as an underpainting.... passages of wet in wet work, articulations and vivid heightening of detail.

From the review (NYTimes, B34, 9/19/03):
Nanching was the first Ming capital, before the dynasty moved its central government north to Bejing. When Bejing fell to the invading Manchus, remnants of the court and bureacracy fled back to Nanjing, which they maintained as a Ming stronghold for a yeat after surrendering it. What many Ming officials and intellectuals did not surrender, however, was their dynastic loyalty. Bound by a Confucian code of allegiance to their original ruler,
they regarded themselves as 'leftover subjects', citizens of a longed-for past. Some challenged thier new outlander overlords outright. Others retreated to monasteries or country estates, or took up nomadic lives."

I listened in a talk by who I take to be the curator of the Met's Asian Art Department, Maxwell K. Hearn. Apparantly, he described an artworld where artist and collector exchanged art within highly realized social moments. More like mementos than art-works. The ocassion of a reunion or a departure would provoke a painting, or upon viewing a painting, guests would inscribe a colophon of poetry on the margins. It was an artworld much different from ours today... in the gross measure. Perhaps, on some fundamental level, a shadow of this still exists.

Our artworld is very different from the artworld of antiquity. Indeed, when we refer to the artworld, it is a modern creature: consisting of artist, audience, critic, collector, gallery and museum. It's hard to say it ever existed before in the many worlds of premodern antiquity. At the Met was an exhibition of arms and armor. This, in a musem of art, but is everything within it is nominated as art work... (but is it?)... in an art world? WHen I hazard this idea in the past, some people tended to take umbrage that I was saying that the art of antiquity was not art... whereas I was saying that when we talk of an artworld, we think of something very different from the artworlds of the past whist we project this modern world upon very different, other worlds.

Posted by Dennis at 2:22 PM | Comments (0)

Peering through my Fingers, Part II

NOVEMBER 7 - 13, 2003

The sculptures of Lynn Aldrich, the paintings of Dennis Hollingsworth and the puppets of Anaphoria
by Doug Harvey

Another underrated artist from the ?90s scene in L.A. is painter Dennis Hollingsworth, whose sumptuous, topographically convoluted abstractions always look so amazing that their rigorous conceptual underpinnings can be easily overlooked. Not easily enough for Hollingsworth to be lumped with the utterly-devoid-of-conceptual-underpinnings school of L.A. abstract painters, but just enough that you find yourself deeply engrossed in the sheer physicality and sensual detail of the work long before you realize the artist is shuffling the same deliberately limited repertoire of stock gestures in each canvas. Hollingsworth?s current show at Chac Mool derives from his standard methodology ? oil paints in a might-as-well-be arbitrary range of colors, applied wet-on-wet in liberal doses using one of a handful of specific techniques ? squeegeed, hurled, troweled, carefully built into a prickly anemonelike forms, etc. Various other excavational procedures remodel the paintscape before it dries. But once it dries, that?s it. The painting is finished and there?s no going back.

The programmatic nature of Hollingsworth?s practice could be taken as a critique of decorative painting or a debunking of the mystique of beauty ? feed a set of parameters with enough varied material and voil?, pretty as a picture! The problem with this interpretation is that I?ve seen other painters try the same thing and consistently produce caca. I prefer to look at Hollingsworth?s process as a distillation of the conceptual filtering and vocabulary building with which all artists grapple. And the plain gorgeousness of the results suggests that Hollingsworth is simply possessed of a virtuosic visual talent, which he chooses to flaunt by combining improvisational immediacy with a structure as codified as a sonnet.

Posted by Dennis at 1:18 PM | Comments (1)

Back From NYC

New York is feeling pretty comfortable to me now. I remember when it was intimidating and suffused... drowned in a tough pop culture membrane: endless loops of Frank Sinatra "NY, NY" song going on in my head. That's all in the past as I amble easily thru the subways and streets. Of course, it helps to b e staying at a nice hotel...
The big score was not the gallery tours but seeing "Passion for the Mountains: 17th Century Landscape paintings from the Nanjing Museum" at the China Institute, followed by the "Dreams of Yellow Mountain: Landscapes of survival in 17th Century China" at the Metropolitain museum. More on this in the next post.

Also at the Met was the Greco show, an exhibition that I found surprising because of the color in his work. It was strange, at once seemingly amateur and sophisticated. Against backgrounds of grey to black, were puffy clouds of salmon and bleached yellows and emerald greens... alll this whilst figures agitated vertically, scribing the surface like a cardiograph. I say surprising because I visited Toledo when I was a kid. It was the same time I saw the Prado as my family was travelling through Europe and Asia enroute to Sydney. It was the week I stood before the Goya ("Saturn...") and had the epiphany that wouldn't become fufilled for another twenty five years. That week, I went to El Greco's town and saw the "Burial of Count Orgaz".
What was strong was the very image of Toledo, the one that Domenicos Theotocopoulo rendered so many times. What I saw was identical to the paintings still. But that was in 1969. Someday soon, I'll be back, bracing myself for the surround of suburbs and Starbucks.

Also, there was the exhibit: "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism" where the Met hung a reproduction of the "Raft of the Medusa". It's a giant work (Chris Jagers, if you're reading this... you have paint this large if you like the bigger scales).
You can read more at:

What I found interesting was the small scale paintings and the attendant focus on Edmund Burke's 1756 treatise: "Philosophicl Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful":
"Whatever is in any sort terrible or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime." The wall texts goes on to say: "...terror led to the sublime, which is superior to beauty..." On the walls were subjects of the depraved, of corpses and the beheaded, piles of limbs. Terrible stuff indeed, terrible times, the French Revolution and Goya's late paintings.

Terror then is not the same as terror today... even though Damian Hirst trades in the same territory and T.V. News trembles at scenes of horror with a cringing fascination. This is a big topic, but I've thought a bit about the transgressive in art, about the picaro or rogue in works like "Catcher in the Rye". This, in another post. I haven't yet read Burke's essay or other works in any kind of depth. I looks like this is a good time for it.

Posted by Dennis at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)