verbal versus visual

Tal R “Man with Pipe” 2008

I like to talk things out; evidence: this blawg. But there’s always been a very satisfying divide between what is visual and what can be described in words. I recently read a great interview with Tal R in Modern Painters and watched Gerhard Richter Painting. Both painters echo this tension/satisfaction.


To talk about painting is not only difficult but perhaps pointless, too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing, what language can communicate. Painting has nothing to do with that. That includes the question, “What were you thinking of?” You can’t think of anything; painting is another way of thinking.

(later in the film)

Each painting is an assertion that tolerates no company.

Tal R:

There is a clear progression to the images I pick up, but it is beyond my language. You invent something and afterward you talk about it. I think artists should watch out; they should admit that their work will always be faster than language. And I think art should be beyond language—otherwise go and write a story, go and be a poet.


here and gone

Odilon Redon

“Hey! Where’d that Christian van Minnen post go?”

“Oh… sometimes I let a post out of the gate, and then I realize I want to think about it some more. It’ll be back.”

more than

Christian Van Minnen “Great Western Buffet” 2012, oil on canvas

I found myself stunned and captivated by this new work by Christian van Minnen, a painter who I met a while back when he still lived in Seattle and was part of a drawing event with me. He was also included in the still life show that I gushed over a couple years ago. Maybe his work strikes you first as grotesque, maybe first as beautifully painted, but I wonder if, along with me, you are held in a delicate balance between being repulsed and attracted. I think CvM strikes that balance more successfully than most artists who tread this territory. And there are plenty of additional details to round out the mental landscape– flags and cartoonish beaks, the smoke that makes me simultaneously sigh with autumnal daydreams, marvel at the painter’s magic with texture, and become eerily aware of roasted meat’s living-animal precedent. (Click image for a larger view)