Sunday, March 28, 2010
A view of Walkabout: Stadium on the left, Field Notes on the right.
Field Notes is an eight-panel painting in the dimensions of Huang Gongwang's 1347-50 scroll Dwelling in the Fu'ch'un Mountains. I schematized his composition in flourescent blocks of color, projected images from the scroll in segments on the canvas and added sketchbook drawings of the Fountainhead residency, Miami, where I was working when I began the painting. To this compendium of images, I added sketches from traveling I-95 between Tampa and Miami, a Tampa convenience store, and paint itself in order to collapse color, form and gesture.
Field Notes refers to Michael Taussig's book What Color is the Sacred? and Fred R. Myers' Painting Culture. Both use the example of the anthropologist as artist, which I adapt to my practice as a painter. Taussig speaks eloquently of how color becomes all encompassing, a force that intoxicates the eye and heart. I consider this in relation to painting formless sensations that occur in the immersion of travel. It also relates to the formlessness of non-ego. I aim for such formlessness when I am painting to more accurately convey perceptions unbridled by habit. This happens naturally in new situations and places.
So the metaphor of anthropologist as artist seems apt for transcribing the world experientially. Combining "found" landscapes such as Gongwang's scrolls, my sketches, photojournalism, etc. pictorial space becomes a version of wallpaper--a repeating pattern with sudden ruptures of heightened perception. In graduate school, I remember developing large scale, unstretched canvases with "holes' in them through which new spaces emerged. They felt and looked too raw at the time, but with hindsight, perhaps the first harbingers for work I am making now.