June 25, 2011

"Untitled (520)"

Untitled (520)
ink, graphite on clayboard
© 2011 Lumi 9

This was the 2nd or 3rd drawing that I started after Untitled (516). I can't remember which was first because I started one when the other was still in process. I tend to do 4-5 works at a time, with some pieces finishing much quicker than others. Right now, I have 5-6 surfaces stoking in the fire and I hope to have another 4-5 begun (maybe 3 finished) in the next week.

But this small scale group of work is very different than anything I've done before (considering my beginning point as Threshold Apprehension - the 1st piece I dedicated towards exploration of the mark last year in 2010). I think the most immediate thing that separates this new work from previous is the newly injected fantastical science-fiction-like nature of these pictures. The objects in the piece above have an obvious mechanical root in life. Combined with the superficially observed lack of gravity amongst the objects - the floating "confetti", the "tubing", the "panels" - one might walk away thinking I'm showing an image of jettisoned waste from the recently retired space shuttle. The second difference is the sizable expanses of color that seem to bubble amongst the detritus (using "sizable" to refer to the percentage of the surface the shape takes up - not how big the shape actually is).

This may be a bad way of starting a conversation where I don't want you consistently thinking of actual objects littering the images, but it at least gets your attention directed towards the correct objects in a more or less abstract picture. Yes, I may have used a reference image to jump off of like a diving board, but I clearly didn't describe it in all of it's literal glory for a reason. My art is not in competition with your phones and digital cameras.

But what I am seeking to capture and abuse by using pin-pointed techniques of drawing from life on micro and macro levels in my paintings is your mind's capacity for pattern recognition. This serves as the entry point for your eyes. The "look for what you know" tendency is intended to keep you searching, scanning for spaces of familiarity. As an artist, I make it my business to take this tendency and lead you to places you've never seen before. 

Fore example...

(detail 1)

...when you're drawn in towards a little section, like Detail 1, you can see how the dark protuberance leading out of the red shape, followed by a flurry of calligraphic marks and colors, are arranged in a believable, three-dimensional, object-like manner (darks are where the shadows belong, lights are where the fullest light has been exposed, etc.). For all intents and purposes, your brain is legitimized in asking the question, "What is it?" It may not be clear, but the above image definitely describes a thing.

(detail 2)

Now let's turn our attention to Detail 2 (and let's ignore the swooping blue and purple shapes in the lower portion of the picture). One might have difficulty making heads or tails of the "What is it?" question. The color areas seem to have no relation to each other (other than their unity in a "coolness" of temperature), and there are three very prominent curving lines, slicing through blues, greens, and purples as if their shape indicated no mass. So what are we looking at?

If you "stand back" and look at the full picture of Untitled (520), you can see Detail 2's original area. Even though the 3 "poles" do have have a steep value contrast (like looking at a window through the spokes of a staircase) you can't activate them as a layer superimposed on the color shapes behind them creating two distinct spacial planes because of the (1) former color's natural buoyancy by the lightness of their hue, bringing them to the surface of the drawing and (2) the obvious fact that the 3 lines were made after the color splotches were laid down, leaving them on the surface as well. This creates a tension in spacing that denies the viewer the traditional three-dimensional experience in which one enters a painting and "walks around." From my perspective, the desire to move behind the three lines to see the floating greens and purples unobstructed should be disappointed to find that no such space exists. You have just been confronted by a space that lives to emphasize its own surface; the actual clayboard along with the actual media used to draw on it.

It would be sensible to be comforted by entrance of Detail 1, but by the time one came to Detail 2, you should realize the inconsistency of spacing and been confronted with a "different" type of visual experience that holds both types of phenomena in the same hand.

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