Sunday, March 30, 2014

Organic Prefabrication

    I am fascinated by structures and textured  surfaces. In reality I couldn't build anything with refinement. My dad was a carpenter for good part of his working life and yet I never really was able to build things...however, I have a deep appreciation for carpentry and masonry (both the the process and result). I remember going with Pop on work-sites and marveling at how he and the crew sawed and nailed the wooded house frames, positioned and secured the walls, laid out Sheetrock and secured the roof shingles. It was back breaking dad would come home after a hot NC summer and have my mom peel away his shirt and he would lay in the floor to cool off.
     While at Pop's work-sites, I would play around with scraps...balance the pieces into lego-like configurations...hyperbolize chucks of wood and brick into imaginary palaces and surreal alien sets. I never lost that wonder...that curiosity for balance and isolation...for desolation and creation...for existence and etherealness. Perhaps that is why I love Edward Hopper's edifical paintings...Yves Tanguy's surreal otherworldly constructions/cognitions...and Roger Dean's profoundly iconic (and bong-worthy) album covers.
"Decay" 2014, ink on paper

"Awesome Ideals + Awful Results", 2014, ink

"Pi Plate", 2014, ink

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DaVinci's "Visi Monstruosi"

"There has never been an artist who was more fittingly , and without qualification, described as a genius. The shadow of a great genius is a peculiar thing...Leonardo's was a chilling shadow, too deep, too dark, too overpowering." ~Sister Wendy Beckett~ from Sister Wendy's Story of Painting

   Leonardo DaVinci's sublime ethereal genius has long fascinated me. But of all his magical conjurings...his brilliant art techniques...his mechanical workings, I am most enamored with his ongoing sketchbook studies. These visualizations + his methodical thought processes offer up his most personal meanderings...his questions of life...his pondering of possibilities...his imaginativenesses of what if! But to me some of his show stoppers are his wacky "grotesque" head studies!
DaVinci-3 Grotesque Heads in Profile (detail from a larger sheet) ask. Leonardo's "whimsical" caricatures are so fascinating to me because they demonstrate a satirical "Lowbrow" injection into the staunch conservatism of how we view Renaissance art. He had a curiosity about all things natural, and what could be more natural than the antithesis of "beauty". Despite his outward projection of portrait perfections like the Mona Lisa, Lady with an Ermine, or St. John the Baptist...where he catered to an obvious pursuit of aesthetic "beauty", he also appreciated that perfection is not always as interesting as "imperfection".
DaVinci-Visi Monstruosi Woman's Profile
   The age was awash in monstrous imagery...particularly the North (Netherlands) where Hieronymus Bosch put the sharpest spin on fantastical demons and the muck ridden populace. His shapely pious visions would have been polarized to DaVinci's more secular studies.Bosch's visions derived from his deeply religious inclinations was his personalized sermons...visual translations of biblical sermons and folklore. Like DaVinci, the meanings of Bosch's visual metaphors have been lost through the ages. The pair were contemporaries but I have never heard of them crossing paths. Ha! What a dazzling collaboration that would have been!!
Bosch- Studies of Monsters (front & back of same sheet)
   On a personal note, both of these artist's sketches have impacted my own work. I am profoundly inspired by both artists' counterbalanced perspectives...their echoing visions penetrate and resonate deep inside my psyche. Their surreal objectivity...their juxtaposed aesthetics...their perverse cognitive explorations, draw me...draw these "Monstruosi" in...make me ponder over good/evil...happy/sad...real/unreal.
Marx Myth- I Don't Know

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aesthetic Apparitions

     We have all experienced it. We see a work of art, or stumble upon a picture in a book or on-line, and an immediate perplexing fervor overtakes us. Oftentimes, it is indefinable...obtusely explicable...familiar yet baffling. This is the vibe I strive for in my paintings...sketches...sculptures. I am not sure why I endeavor to elicit that feeling, but my internal voice rattles off in an excitement when I tap into that vein. I float out of myself, become an imaginary fly-on-the-wall when my work falls into an observer's gaze. What do they see? what do they feel? Do they think the piece is odd...funny...daft? Are they engrossed in questions?
excerpt from The Cracker-Barrel Surrealist Sketchbook
     What do I like? As an audience member, what makes me linger...ogle...flinch...weep...scream?! Wow, that is a very broad question, but (cue music) "here are a few of my favorite things". 
  • could you not be enamored with his genius. 
  • Hieronymus Bosch...his tortured conflicted visions are brilliantly disturbing
  • Kale...I know, it's a plant/food, but I love the taste, love the nutrition
  • R. Crumb...his line work, his aesthetic pen work is mesmerizing...his wacky toon lifestyle fascinates me
  • Glenn, his retro-style and mastery of paint...awesomeness
  • The Wonders of the Universe...Brian Cox does a great job humanizing astronomy
  • The Golden Age of Illustrators...NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Edward Dulac, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover....
  • Children's artworks...from the early (and ongoing) work from my own kids to all others...their work exemplifies a cathartic honesty and integrity I covet 
  • Norman Rockwell...I feel his caricatures and painting style are brilliantly executed
  • "Alien"...they should have stopped with the 1st movie, but the others have merits...just not as significantly on an artistic level
  • Astronomical Art...I love the visionary concepts of other worlds
So, as a matter of aesthetic investigation...I will shift my discussions from my own work (although I might dredge them up along the way) to a broader commentary on the world as I see it. These topics/persons that I find fascinating will be my focus from here on out. The above list will get me started and I hope to push it as long and as far as I can. MM :)