Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Carnage with Rhythm

As promised a long time ago, here are the final shots of my Piano pile. In my study of the pile, I wanted to achieve an overwhelm not without absurdist nods to rhythmic abstraction, jewel box miniature and egg tempera, and also the carnage and elegance of some of my heros including Goya and baroque still life master Jan Davidsz. de Heem. The cut up bodies at the left of the drawing are a kind of homage to Goya's Disasters of War series. Goya manages pathos and the grotesque in such a way as to will one to action, denunciation, or maybe even a brooding pacificsm. I am also captivated by Goya's Still Life with Three Salmon Steaks. These gut wrenching delicacies were emblems of decadence in destruction that only a master portraitist could bring to the inanimate, in my work they recur as a totemic restatement multiplied. I am interested in using such appropriations as building blocks for my conceptual and political piling exercise. Goya painted these bleeding fleshy fish cuts while working on the Disasters of War, which I believe were made during Napoleon's bloody trek through Spain. Something about the prints with their severity of line, paucity of rich color, and extreme subject matter (beheadings, cut bodies on trees) next to the fleshy lamentation of bleeding glaze in the Salmon still life triggered something in me that started this body of work. I want to paint body, animal, object, movement as inanimate, stilted, and repetitive and yet oddly convivial in its color and touch. There is a lack of bleeding and fleshy beauty to these works because I work in flat acrylic and gouache, mostly. This flatness may signal my remove, my glancing appropriations, or my academic perspective in encountering this kind of horror. I want a kind of damning but devotional touch to reinforce that. I find it an interesting endeavor to nest such loaded and loosely appropriated imagery (read: my torsos and body parts are weak echos of Goya's observations of war laid into print) within a ham-fisted and off-scale baroque still life that relies as much on the repetitive touch of a performance or wall drawing as it does seduction in paint. I choose to channel the weak echo, the dilettantish or mawkish painting hand, the privilege of this sort of cracked labor within the wonky procedure of sublime still life.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Alas Poor Baby Skull

Another 3" long x 2" wide miniature, this time of my plastic skull. I was gonna give her a tiara, but maybe that's tomorrow's baby. I'm working away on some larger drawings, so just little driblets right now. But it is nice to be playing with oil paint. Its been so long since I touched oil and didn't get sick. I've been careful with what I use and how long, and it seems that the smaller the paintings and the shorter the sessions, the more likely I am to not feel ill, get headaches etc. Oh and macabe or depressive subject matter doesn't hurt! To fully ivestigate cliche in all its forms, to go where all men have gone before, that is my charge. And maybe perhaps to vomit in the process, to expell cliche and to question it. But some of this study stuff looks pretty tame, I dunno. I just get involved in the lushness and luxuriating of it all. The brash luxury of making tiny tame little paintings.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Deer Miniatures

I had been teaching my first painting classes about portrait miniatures but I hadn't yet been engrossed by the idea of a portrait miniature, even though I had been engrossed by the idea of detail. Here's to a comedic portrait miniature, where line and mark are ham-fisted but delicate! I mean to do a large grid of these, is that silly? I thought it was kind of funny to have trophies that are usually so large sized down to around 3" tall by 2" long (yes these are really small - note the dust and cat hair).

A Poem for Dropped Things

A reference to the unswept floor? Maybe. I would hope this is not what I would wish for my ancestors, or what I think of them. Evidently the Romans believed leaving food on the floor, or tromp l'oeil versions of it would be nourishing for the dear departed. Yikes. And yet there is something wonderful about having a use for those dropped table scraps beyond feeding the cat or dog. I like to think of this one as a harmless cornucopia. Mostly harmless.