motionless motion

"Covering Her Eyes" Rick Beerhorst
“Covering Her Eyes” Rick Beerhorst

Imagination has the creative task of making symbols, joining things together in such a way that they throw new light on each other and on everything around them. The imagination is a discovering faculty, a faculty for seeing relationships, for seeing meanings that are special and even quite new.

So we must all move, even with motionless movement, even if we do not see clearly. A few little flames, yes. You can’t grasp them, but anyway we look at them obliquely. To look too directly at anything is to see something else because we force it to submit to the impertinence of our preconceptions. After a while though everything will speak to us if we let it and do not demand that it say what we dictate.”

Thomas Merton, 1964

I am a big fan of Rick Beerhorst’s seeing/not-seeing paintings. I want to repost them every time a new one comes up. I find this one mildly disconcerting because of the older children who have their eyes open, and in a sense are enforcing the blindness, setting a stage for an act of Not Seeing. One child stares directly at the viewer; we, of course, as viewers, are also, by default, in the looking/seeing camp, so we become complicit. Still, the smallest, “blinded” child is peacefully interior. Patient and relaxed. In motionless motion.

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Who’s in my studio?

Nicole Eisenman "The Drawing Class"
Nicole Eisenman “The Drawing Class”

“This painting is like a rodent-pet. It smells like poop nuggets and wood chips. Does this painting hold up to paintings made by your contemporaries in Brooklyn? Or Berlin?”

“Why do you always think of those two cities?”

“Because they stand for edgy success.”

“Ha. If I make work thinking of that, I’ll be pretending to be something I’m not.”

“What would such-and-such former-art-school-buddy/art-writer/gallerist/husband/admirer/dude-on-the-street think of this?”

“Oh, just be quiet and meditative. Let it be a prayer. A secret conversation.”

“Ugh. This one gets stuck in my throat. I don’t know where to look, or whether to look. Total mess.”

“Facile. Too pretty. Too traditional.”

“Too much of a repeat of what you’ve done before.”

“Too different. No one will follow. Lost in the woods.”

“Predictable. What’s the deal with rectangles?”

“Unclear. Referencing everything and nothing.”

“Brilliant!”

“You are deceiving yourself.”

“Shhhhhh sh. Just work and respond to the work.”

“Where does this belong? In a living room? A museum? Online?”

“It doesn’t matter. It just has to work.”

“It DOES matter. Art is a two-way street. Who are you talking to?”

“I don’t know. Who are YOU talking to?”

“This solitude is getting really crowded.”

On two legs

It is a curious and attractive thing to see something other than a straightforward human being perched on two legs. I immediately feel both familiar and alien toward the form– probably one of the reasons I love Nick Cave’s soundsuits so much. It’s also the reason that dance has inspired me as much as any other artform. (See past entries on performances by Ralph Lemon and Zoe|Juniper) There’s something about the embodiment of ideas that really entrances me. Being able to relate through the recognition of our always-shells, the body-houses where we all live, but also with the sense that our limits are perhaps not what they seem.

After designing a three-color poster for my brother, Josh, and having it screen printed, I started working with my own ideas in that medium, and came up with a series of two-legged amalgamations. The results can be seen (and purchased!) here.

all4

“As part of an ongoing, and often playful, study of the ways that we relate to our home planet, the prints cast a marriage of human and inhuman elements, so that waves and lumber and clouds and brambles balance (or tumble) on two legs. They are inspired by dance, comics, Chinese painters and plenty of time spent outside trying to understand the elements that make up our world.”