Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Favorite Painter

In every art form, style is recognized over substance. I guess it’s easier to jump on board when something is recognizable. Obviously there are as many different ways to experience art as there are people, but when art has the ring of truth, especially if it can reach a level of meaning that can’t be easily expressed, you have my attention. There’s nothing in the world as exciting to me as sharing an inner or even hidden truth.

An example is Endre Nemes painting Legend of a Mother. When I first saw it I thought, “that’s it,” “that’s all the pain, happiness and nostalgia I feel for my mother.” It almost brought me to tears.

In some ways it reminded me of a little drawing my friend Tony Patti used to work on. It was a little disjointed cowboy figure with an outsized misshapen sheriff’s badge. He called it the Multidiagonal Mighty. He did everything he could to lose his practiced drawing ability. He was after the honesty of a kid that couldn’t draw and man he got close. I think I still have a copy somewhere.

When I was a teenager I fell in love with Dali, Dada, and a lot of the Surrealists. That led me through a history of mostly western art.

I was fascinated with cave paintings that were thousands of years old, especially if they involved hallucinogenic drugs. These were happening all over the world at the same time.

An interest in Maxwell Parish led to the Renaissance and Northern Renaissance which led to Mannerism and Baroque art. I loved the Realists for their sympathetic look at human suffering. Especially Courbet, Millet and Van Gogh’s early Potato Eater works when he was still pursuing religion. Van Gogh always interested me because he made it from pre to post Impressionism while somehow skipping Impressionism altogether.

When photography made painting portraits unnecessary, art branched into several interesting tangents. Artists wanted to express their thoughts and convey their impressions about their subject matter.

Eventually, even the subject was given up on. The surface of the canvas became the subject for the Abstract Impressionists and Abstract Expressionists. Why did these guys all beat their women? David Smith’s and Jackson Pollack’s stuff even looks violent doesn’t it?

I loved it that Mondrian threw away representation but couldn’t give up composition and there have been so many new ideas since then.

We seem to live in an age when it’s taken for granted that it’s all been done. We find Ready-mades, use Collage, Photoshop, and sampled bits of music. Technique might be suffering but the depth of our thinking seems to be expanding.

Recently, my friend Sharon turned me onto the graffiti artist Banksy. If you don’t know who he is, Google him.

At the height of my passion for art I found a book filled with prints by Remedios Varo on a coffee table at my friend Sue Leonard’s house. I was totally bowled over. I must have been twenty years old and had never seen anything like it. She was a Mexican painter who had been born in Spain. Most of my favorite painters are Spanish. To this day, she's my fave.

It seems like Sue always took care of me. Her parents picked up the book in Mexico. She made them pick up a copy for me when they went back. They were impressed with my passion so much they also brought back a book of the art of Leonora Carrington to turn me on to. Carrington was one of their favorite painters. It was fantastic.

I’ve never been a great fan of superstition with one great exception, art. Superstitions seem to be symptoms of our subconscious. There are secret and wonderful things lurking in there.

Legend of a Mother by Endre Nemes-Composition 10 by Mondrian-Armonia by Remedios Varo-Anthony by Leonora Carrington-Banksy


Dominic said...

Great stuff, David...

Did you get a chance to see the recent Banksy Simpsons opening?

Doggie said...

Yeah, Dylan is a big fan of both Banksy and the Simpsons. He was so excited about this episode he called Sharon and me.

Tracy said...

Anonymous said...

Simpsons have done quite a few Banksy "sightings". I always knew Greoning was a genius. First Trout Mask and now this? I knew there was a reason he is one of my heroes.