Sunday, May 17, 2015

Crux of the Whole

Friday I delivered a talk about my work. Not having been in the space for a few weeks, the work strangely appeared foreign. It interests me how a body of work consistently constructs a life of its own when installed in a new environment. Each intimate decision that was reached in the process of making, each mark that was mulled over defined and redefined over an extended period of time, now exhibits as one effortless entity.  This too is a form of transient alchemy: a love affair destined to soon be broken apart.

Judith Kruger, Hammond Museum, May 15, 2015, photo: Amber Maida

I can only wish that my students would acquire a sense of creative confidence to let a work just evolve and be, without excessive judgment or even attachments prior to its release towards an effortless state. A true master knows how to physically complete a work way prior to its apparent resolution. It's the unfinished business that elicits the most intrigue in the “finished” environment. It’s the imperfect business that elicits the most intrigue in the “perfect” environment. Time and time again, I find myself in a white cube admiring the beauty of effortless gesture, accidental marks and painting outside the lines.

This of course is easier said than done. It is forced perfection that embodies imperfection that cries out as bad art. We’ve all been there at one time. A painter friend recently reminded me that it takes a discerning eye to know when something is not working. Although, on the other hand, at times, it's just not complete and ready for the quiet after the storm.

I saw this in Bill Jensen’s works at Cheim and Reid. I can only speculate that some nights he goes to bed with enough unfinished business to feel out of control. The next day, the wind blows in the other direction and this continues like a pendulum until one day, when the wind is calm and the fear vanishes, the painting says leave me be. I’m ready to depart.

Bill Jensen, Tamascheck, 2013, oil on linen, 28.5" x 23"

Few people have the opportunity to see this surrender to process-the daily ebb and flow in our studios. I intend to share some of mine here: a space that is uncomfortable at times, and yet, the crux of the whole.

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