I read the following post by Aaron Williams today. I met Aaron a couple of months ago and I saw his show in Boston and I liked it a lot. I have been chewing on his piece here about abstraction for the past couple of hours. I keep shaking his words like a snow globe to see how they fall. Reading this made me think I should try to write down my own thoughts on Why Abstraction.
For me, in my own work, abstraction is the culmination of concept and instinct living together. Passion without purpose is merely display of immature id. Purely rational work furthers academic understanding but says nothing of humanity. I am trying to make paintings that draw on my unique experience and education, but that also create common bonds and show parallels to to other times and peoples and places. Duality and balance have been the central themes of my life and work so far and I often hang these concepts on a landscape framework because I believe that the story, singly and collectively, is about man in nature. There is tension between simultaneously striving for outward experience while cultivating a deeper and more evolved self. I’m a Romantic, in the Germanic sense.
You have a genius you have a genius and a sex maniac
Living together taking lots of drugs and and
Fucking all day and as it’s just it’s just it’s just like
It’s like it’s like staying at home and risking your life
– Justice is Might, Sonic Youth
I engage my senses and experience the tactile and sensual qualities of real, physical stuff while engaging with intellectual stuff, that is, ideas. In terms of process, though, impulse proceeds. In the beginning, the years of knowledge accrued nap (though I’m sure it influences my waking dreams- how can we escape what we have internalized?) while I work, and emotive- maybe animalistic- impulses rule. Later on I cage those impulses and I think about what I have done. So painting is a two part process- the first part is primal engagement with material and the second part is the rational implementation of knowledge. The two dance back and forth , or sometimes converse in less pleasant ways, until all needs are met.
I think plenty of painters pursue abstraction as a vehicle for concepts. Expressionists, though, are moved to pursue paintings for other reasons, and formalism is the glue that keeps the images together.
Being Sentimental. Being Feminine. Being German. Being Latin. Being American. Being Intuitive. Being . These are some of my reasons for painting like I do. It’s in my DNA . It’s my belief system. I ache for primal goo- smearing mud on the cave walls- this is how we pray- and whatever I have learned only strengthens my ability to communicate this sentiment, this longing. I never get tired of it. It never feels like enough. I feel like a double agent sometimes; advocating for knowledge while pledging my fidelity to instinct.
I’m glad I happened upon Aaron’s writing today. It gave me occasion to think about why I am an abstract painter. I’m really glad for the opportunity to ponder my intentions here in the final weeks of 2013. It’s best to pursue 2014, I think, with a clear understanding of my purpose.