Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crossroads: Music and Painting

We find ourselves coming back to Sam Gilliam, without know to which of the loa we should make an offering to give him strength. Nevertheless, we kind quotes like this intriguing:

Yeah, but playing music in a certain sense that - we used to talk about Coltrane - that Coltrane worked at the whole sheet, he didn't bother to stop at bars and notes and clefs and various things, he just played the whole sheet at once. I think that's very important, because the spatial and the total attitude of the picture depends upon at least the feeling of planarity that is determined at least by the edge as a whole. Therefore, in a painter such as Gottlieb, the sense of the sheet of color operating with the canvas as the panel plane, and then the kind of markings or the addition of other sorts of color information opened up that plane, so there's a kind of instantaneous action of many factors acting as a whole but they were all very, very simply defined. One of the things that really was important with acrylics is that this sense of the control at the level of the whole stretched canvas was very difficult the more you had in a sense had to manipulate the brush, draw in extra things to make it work. It seemed that as a function it worked much better when in a very mass way things came together. Remember that many of the Abstract Expressionists experimented with big brushes, big brooms, mops. I've even heard of someone trying to paint in New York with a buffing machine. (both laugh heartily) If you heard this, you understood it. Literally I think that one of the things I first started to do was beginning to fold rice paper and open it up and letting the sort of striations and the folds actually develop and radiate and give the focus of the painting. And very interesting is that the crumpling turned color over, putting some color on top and there was color on the bottom, just like a sediment formed on top and that you could go through it and it was just like all at once; and then suddenly the desire was to try this with canvas, using roller tubes, and pouring paint out and rolling it together, and pressing it, and then unfolding it in a sense, you have all at once the myriad experiences of several surfaces coming, being focused in thin layers behind at least the white of the canvas, just waiting to be revealed by the light of the gallery. Even more fantastic is one of the things I heard a young man say, "I started to paint when I learned to kill my hands."

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