In this post I’d like to compare two very different examples of how an artist paints a space in comparison to the way I have for my recent work. The two painters I chose are Linden Frederick and David Salle.
Linden Frederick’s Tenant is almost photographic in the tranquil portrayal of a building that might exist anywhere in America. In a weird way, there’s no evidence that the subject matter even exists outside of its painted form. It sits outside of time and place, and outside of seeming ‘special’ because it is so mundane a subject. As in most of Frederick’s work the subject seems to exit everywhere and nowhere in the same space of thought. That aspect of his work is reminiscent of Marc Auge’s ‘non-places’.
David Salle’s Last Light uses elements painted as if collaged together. Although the individual pieces within the work are painted realistically enough that they are recognizable as objects, his combination of different color schemes, angles of view, and somewhat disjointed collections of people/objects remove a sense of place from his work. He doesn’t simply display a different type of non-place, but rather denies a sense of place ever existed in the realm of his work.
Although Salle’s work seems more contemporary and visually interesting, I prefer Frederick’s work in relation to the ideas of non-place I’m dealing with. Instead of distorting the visual until it seems to be without place, I’d rather embrace the placelessness that it already possesses and then amplify it.
*Two other works that would fit this similar comparison are Paul Winstanley’s TV Room V and Patrick Caulfield’s After Lunch.
I went to the museum intending to see the Peter Doig paintings recently on display, but I ended up spending more time engrossed by another piece of the collection. The ‘Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon’ or ‘frequency illusion’ is when you learn some obscure piece of information (like a new word or in this case a color) and it keeps popping up afterwards. That blue-green color I was staring to explore on my canvases after coming across some of Peter Doig’s work (not the same ones now in Cardiff Museum) held my attention longer than most artworks can. I journaled my thoughts about the painting. Here’s a section of that:
Right now I sit in front of Dexter Dalwood’s 2003 painting Oscar Wilde, entranced by the swirling night sky filling two-thirds of the canvas. Reds with hints of purple and brown, yellows and golden-oranges, soft greens and dark blues; these are what draw my eye. I know I should be asking questions of the piece to learn what it’s ‘about’, but with most paintingsI’m happy to witness them as a play in color (whether they are intended for that or not). Behind me sits a Francis Bacon with a similar greenish-blue: 1953, Portrait of a Man. To my right is R. B. Kitaj’s 1973, Still (The Other Woman) once again using these familiar hues. But even while surrounded by Francis Bacon’s and Lucian Freud’s, my attention keeps returning to this Dexter Dalwood. Why is that? It feels familiar to my own work, but also as to somewhere I’ve been. It exists as both dream and memory. The lamp’s bright glow is unnerving and the street signs are impossible to read. I think it is the combination of the color’s brightness and subtlety. It feels in the midst of movement, yet somehow silent…
The City & The City by China Miéville was suggested to me on the basis of my work a few weeks ago. Although I’ve not had the time to get more than a chapter or two into the book, the premise intrigues me. Playing with the idea from theoretical physics that more than one object can occupy the same physical space, the two cities of this book and their inhabitants occupy the same space physical space as each other.
My work in part entails the idea of multiple experiences occupying a single memory, similar to the cities occupying the same physical space. But within the book the inhabitants of each city are required to never the presence of one another. Should my work do the same? It is aloud to acknowledge that the singular moments are incomplete or that they are an amalgamation of pieces?
And why am I always left with more questions than answers?
Finished the book, and would highly recommend to to anyone who, like myself, enjoys Orwellian literature and the like. No additional revelations in relation to my work since only the mise-en-scène had any helpful insights. There was however the curious question about what exists between the two places, but to say more might spoil something for any potential readers, so I shall say no more on the subject.
In searching for the palette I’d use for some of my transitional images Peter Doig’s work was suggested to me by a few colleagues. Taking a closer look at his work I found a few of his paintings containing this strange bluey-green hue. The color itself is between alien and familiar, and between bright and muted. It was a perfect starting point for mixing my palette.
Memory always seems intertwined with dream in painting. I just want to briefly touch on a few paintings currently influencing my thought process in similar ways.
Daybreak Paco Pomet-
The colors in this one remind me of Giorgio de Chirico’s timeless and placeless skies, but with a more realist than surrealist attitude.
The Edge of Reality Eric Roux-Fontaine-
This one is defiantly on the more dream-like side of the spectrum. It’s delicate in use of color while maintaining a sense of timelessness and placelessness.
Migration, Mapping a Galaxy, and Memory Palace Joshua Flint-
I’m never sure where I stand with Flint’s work. It’s narrative but also wonderfully ambiguous as to each image’s origin. The statement on his website reflects some of the things I’ve been trying to achieve:
“The paintings fluctuate between the familiar and the unknown while simultaneously including the past and present…That ambiguity, between the seen and unseen, between the real and the imaginary, is where my paintings live.”- excerpt from the artist statement on Flint’s website
Oregon Ladder (study), Someday Again, and Library by the Sea Jeremy Miranda-
Similar to Flint, Jeremy Miranda’s work occupies very liminal spaces, between places of dream and memory.
One problem I have with art that deals with travel is it’s usually extremely idealized. Jim Darling’s series of paintings from the airplane window exemplifies this.
I love these paintings, I really do. From their style and color to the window built to frame them, I enjoy staring at them for long periods of time. But they are deceptive as to the true nature of travel. Of course his intent may be the utopia of plane travel, but I’m too much of a realist in art, politics, philosophy and etc. If I were making (or re-making) these the window would be less perfectly white and much more dingy. There would be clouds intruding on the nice views (especially flying over Chicago). Lastly the colors outside would hopefully reflect more of a desire to be off the crowded plane and down amongst the nice cityscape instead of content to sit above it all. But that’s just me.