Friday, February 20, 2009
Thinking about Asia, as I prepare to leave for Australia next week. This is a six-foot tall ink portrait I made in Taichung, Taiwan, in 2004--my first trip. I prepared all day for the changeable experience of painting the dynamic city: lights switched on and off, the sky changed, and this is what Taichung finally looked like, late at night.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Painting is, I think, inevitably an archaic activity and one that depends on spiritual values. One of the big crises in painting--at least a century or two, maybe even three centuries old--was precipitated by the dropping away fo the support of a known spiritual context in which a creative impulse such as painting could find a place. This cannot be replaced by private worlds and reveries. As a painter today you have to work without that essential platform. But if one does not deceive oneself and accepts this lack of certainty, other things come into play--they may be the reverse of what one would expect. Rather like colour, whose instability can become another form of certainty. So the absence of something, especially something necessary but which cannot be easily identified or discovered, has sometimes led to a very exacting quest in modern art. At the end of his life, Monet painted his largest, grandest and in many ways greatest paintings about virtually nothing; about looking into a huge expanse of water set with a few lilies in which unexpected colours appear in the depths, or elusively in reflections. It is a most mysterious, extraordinary subject in which he invests all his experience and power. In the end there seems to be hardly any subject-matter left--only content.