Erasure as subharmony
Erasure as intellectual flexibility
…as chaff (Thanks, Shawna)
Erasure as the growing market for tattoo removal
Erasure as “just like starting over” or as “no such thing.”
Erasure as palimpsest
…as wrinkled nose and sweaty brow.
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Repost of this set of goals. The older post has gotten infected by some spam engine of doom.
Some more goals:
A drawing that throbs with its own reckoning, Tell-Tale-Heart-style.
A drawing that breathes through its teeth, makes bad jokes and laughs at itself. That apologizes too often and second-guesses its intentions. Its lines are halting and unsure. It smells like milk and garlic.
A drawing that chops the water into black diamonds edged in gray. The color only comes if coaxed. It slides in on glass-smooth chips and takes its place between austere facets. It is a stifled giggle, a shred of music escaping the window of a passing car.
A drawing that shops at thrift stores and wears pants that I’m pretty sure are out of style. It might have a hole in the big toe of its sock. It might have a stye in its eye.
A drawing that just sits on its ass in a museum.
A drawing that rumbles like thunder, rimmed with trembling light and shivering in the sudden cold. Rivulets, downpours, wash-outs, sinkholes.
A drawing that tries to keep what has been lost—a lock of hair flattened along with its ribbon in an old book. It is preciously sentimental and adoringly useless. A voiceless specimen for an unnamed audience.
A drawing that offers a nauseatingly off-kilter missed-beat, back-beat, back-alley, skip-time record scratch. All the weight is thrown into the wrong corners. The open space is begging for a mark of any kind, sighing in its blankness, aching for new language—a pale steady hum held against the scratchiness of static.
A drawing that gets swallowed up by the earth when it opens up, finally. Rich loam and dark fragrance. Unopened seeds and insect eggs. Wandering roots like hair.
A drawing that makes it all okay—modern lines and mechanical curves. Everything has a place and everything in its place. A yoga topknot. Clean sheets. The right wine. Cute kids. Health insurance. A kitchen garden and herbs in a window box.
A drawing that tastes infinity at the edge of restless sleep and dives under the deep water with abandon bordering on recklessness. Impossibly indigo, beautifully black, Solaris’ circular windows. A swan dive, a breaststroke, a cruciform opening out and in at once.
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What a fun experience it was to collaborate with Nicholas Strobelt a couple weeks ago at Strange Coupling– an annual collaborative project between University of Washington seniors and graduate students with local working artists. Nick is a senior in Photomedia, with boundless energy and smarts. He’s been making photos like this (these are from a series called Self-Tracing):
I love how his photos are both austere and playful, messing with perception and the thin line between flatness and a sense of depth. I especially enjoy his photos where the devices are laid bare (say, the threading at the end of the mop handle used as a leg of a trapezoid and an imagined triangle.) My current obsession, though it has been rolling out in folded paper, drawing and painting, has been geometry. For years, I’ve been using it, and now my mind is trained on it as a subject for more focused contemplation. I’ve been looking at and reading and thinking about the ways that geometry has been a philosophical and even theological/spiritual tool for centuries. Nick and I enfolded our mutual interest in geometry, and my current teaching in color theory, to make an interactive stage of slowly shifting color fields. People were invited to come aboard and watch their shadows shift from teal to magenta, from green to gray to white. One of my favorite sections of the piece was the “box of light” where we positioned a pedestal on a cinder block to catch in its void a shifting color field abstraction. It was an ideal abstraction until you moved a little closer and the shadows of flyaway hairs or the crescent of your ear would invade. To me, it became a picture of our modernist ideas of perfection being dirtied up by the less-than-ideal figures of life lived in real spaces. And, of course, I find those less-than-ideal parts the most compelling, when it comes down to it.
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The name of the show “The Ether and the Mantle,” my last solo show at G.Gibson Gallery, was an imagined love affair between elements of the air and elements of the earth, a picture of the magnetism and wooing and coupling that has everything and nothing to do with human lovemaking. Here is my short statement from the show:
The work in “The Ether and the Mantle” can be read as a series of love poems between elements in the earth and those in the air. The timely meetings of these elements on Earth is a crucial part of the story of our genesis as living creatures. Inspired by recent work with a biochemist, and in the spirit of previous bodies of work, in which I have anthropomorphized mountains, water, rocks and air, I have both seriously and playfully engaged with the tumultuous history of life on a chemical/geological level. It is a story of catastrophe and exchange, morphing structures and unlocking of elements in their time, repulsion, attraction and harmony.
This piece above, “Flowering Fossil Bed,” was the largest piece in the show, and I thought of it as a sort of honeymoon bed. Rocks bloom and flowers crystallize. Hope and future-love hold tenuous sway. Do you know the feeling of weddings? Joy and melancholy and hope and small talk. Awkward dancing, public cake shoving, lights and flowers and aisles and old friendships. Heartbreak and mourning and laughter and boredom. The earth is so full of all of it.
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Every artwork should have a certain “hand” that reaches out for the audience, but the physical experience is completely beyond what you can explain on the phone. You can almost explain Donald Judd or Bruce Nauman over the phone. But when you see the pieces, they work on you in a different way. I want there to be normal things in my paintings that everybody can pick up, but when you stand in front of them you get insecure about what you’re watching. It’s like getting the viewer to the dance floor with a very cheesy pop song. If you ask people, they won’t admit that they like the song, but when they hear it, they move. Or like when you put french fries on the table. People will say, “No, I don’t like french fries.” But then everybody’s picking at the french fries. That’s how the painting should work. –Tal R
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