james lavadour: it was all kinetic

"Flare" James Lavadour (images via PDX Contemporary)

I picked up the book James Lavadour: Landscapes from the library and was so struck by his description of his process that I’d just like to re-present it some of it here:

You see how round these hills around here are. I would walk down the canyon and out of the canyon and I would become aware of every step and every breath I made. I felt like I was walking on an egg– this huge, immense, evenly formed sphere. The first thing I realized is that the world is round, circular and that everything I do is circular– the way I move, the way my blood pumps, is a rhythmic pulse. ..[.]

I did the drawings because I could not take it all in. I could not look at the complexity of the world and discern a rock from a tree, when it came to drawing. But when I began to look at these things in elemental form, and realized that they’re all based on concentrated masses of organic movement, I began to break things down into elemental rhythms and patterns and motions.

It was all kinetic. I would learn these things not by looking at them but by walking. I began this whole process of extracting a certain kind of knowledge from nature just by engaging with nature. I tried to tell myself not to think– just walk, just see, just feel, just hear. So I went through a whole period where I did nothing but walk and collect elemental little bits and pieces. All of a sudden I realized that what I was looking at and what I was doing were the same thing. Whatever is out there is in her. Everything that I wanted to do as an artist I realized that I already possessed as a being, I was an event of nature myself. I could become a conduit for making art, a conduit of nature, a conduit of this extraordinary event.

[…] I had this movement going on, I had this paint erosion going on, and I couldn’t quite put them together. I was looking for something that had as much life as the nature I was experiencing. I did not want a representation, or a depiction, or a portrayal. I wanted something that was an actual event, that was as lifelike as the land that I was walking on.

James Lavadour "Red Face"

2 thoughts on “james lavadour: it was all kinetic”

  1. Thank you for sharing some of his thoughts in the book you picked up. I’ve been struck by his process (and his work) since he gave a talk at PNCA when I was a student there in the early 90’s, and I still think about it today. What he said was very much like this quote. He also said that everything you do, any job you take, everything you read, etc, informs your art – it ALL matters.

    Love YOUR work, BTW.

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