Robert Wallace

Ephemera

 

 

Art Basel Miami Beach 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Notes

And then it all goes to shit.  Paintings that were "almost there" yesterday, have gone off the tracks.  Today they look like a backdrop for a Grateful Dead show.  I want to set them all on fire and just before they turn to carbon extinguish the flames.  This is in part to punish them for their ugliness, and also to hopefully improve their looks.

 

Studio Notes

Paintings are evolving.  Almost there.  At least beyond that ugly teenage stage.

They have movement.  There is action, rhythm, color - of course.  After hanging the "GHAM" show I realized/discovered I'm a colorist.  My work is bursting with color, which is contrary to my own perceptions.

 

 

Gallery 123 Opening Party (October 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Notes

Making art is a dirty business.  If it is going to look or sound or feel like anything, you've got to get dirty.  Unlike money, you need a little grime and filth to make art.  Oh wait...you need that to make money too.  Bankers and Wall Streeters in their crisp white shirts and spotless wool suits are counterfeits.  They are all dirty bastards.

 

Studio Notes

How quickly we lose our rhythm.  When you break too long from your art, it is a bit like starting over.  You have no idea where you left off.  The continuum is lost.  Take a large, wide brush and apply a single color generously; or take a spatula and attack the painting aggressively, destroying any evidence of earlier sessions.  Erase.  Begin again.  Trying to find that place in your head or on the canvas where you stopped two weeks ago is futile.  These paintings, like many teenagers, will be ugly and awkward for some time.  Don't worry.  Keep at them.  A new groove will appear.

It is funny how truly ugly some of my paintings are in their early stages.

 

 

Gallery 123 (Brooklyn)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Notes

On selling your work.  It is a strange feeling.  These things, these paintings that you have spent so much time with, weeks or months in the creation, then perhaps years as part of your "belongings", are suddenly gone.  In an instant they belong to somebody else, and it is likely you will never see them again.  Unlike say, a novel or music or even a photograph, you do not retain anything, no manuscript, no master recording, no negative.  Unlike a novel, a piece of music or photograph there is only one.  There is a strange, maybe unnatural attachment to a painting.  It sounds cliched, but they are like children.  But a child, even after they've grown, will still visit from time to time.  The bond is never completely severed.  It is strange and a little sad to sell a painting. 

 

Studio Notes

10 paintings in 3 months.  It seems like a good amount, but somehow not enough.  2 are masterpieces.  But somehow not enough.  Am I ready to show these?

Art Basel project...too much too soon?  Am I ready?  Am I faking it?  What the hell am I doing?

Breathe.

 

Studio Notes

In any other context outside these four walls that make up my studio, this debris would be considered garbage.  Yet here I am on my hands and knees sifting through the discarded remnants of my own paintings, trying to find bits that might work in another painting.  What a fucking ridiculous process!  How did I arrive here?  Why is this interesting or beautiful?  Maybe it isn't.  Maybe I am the only one who thinks so.  What is undeniably interesting is the connectivity.  Every painting is connected to every other painting, not in theme or style or color pallet, but in this debris.  What is torn and chipped out of one painting will later end up in another; then bits of that painting will end up in a subsequent piece, etc., etc.  It is like a baker with his "starter" dough.  Every loaf of bread ever made in his bakery is connected to every other loaf by way of that small piece of starter dough.

 

Studio Notes

It's good when going to and from the studio is routine.  It is the office now, and putting in the time there is obligatory.

I've produced some very good paintings in the 3 short months since I moved in.  What might I accomplish in 12?  It is a good space, if a little small and lacking natural light.  But I am comfortable, and the work is proof that the space suits me.

The paintings continue to evolve.  As I get frustrated or bored with one technique I try something else.  Sometimes it fails.  But when it succeeds - evolution.

 

Studio Notes

Do not stray from the jazz-zen approach to painting.  The most successful paintings happen by chance, without trying.  They arrive without thought or planning.  Be patient.

 

Studio Notes

Back into the ring after a two week sun-bleached and salty hiatus in southern California.  Head was burnt and longing for somewhere else.  I jumped in, attacked.  I decided I couldn't be too careful, too conservative.  I started in on one canvas that was nearly done before my sojourn.  It wasn't.  I was being timid.  It is now full of blood and guts, bones and black bile.  I like it.  It is good.  Medical, a dissection, an accident revealing what's inside, what we are made of.  It follows the little one that arrived in the hospital a few weeks ago.  A lovely abstract lungs, heart, rib cage.  A new series is born.  Funny how one leads to the next.  Japanese tomatoes to explosions in space to medical pictures.  Ha!  What the hell am I doing?

 

Studio Notes

No big happenings as I've run out of surfaces on which to paint.  The triptych came together last week when I attacked with a spatula.  I knew it was over, just a matter of filling in the perimeter with my favorite (new favorite) color alizarin red.  It is a Jedi painting now.  There are only a few that make it to that level.  So strong, so full of life and energy.  A real beauty.  The small canvas continues to frustrate me.  I want to bring it to the same place as the other "tomato" paintings, but it is resistant.  It lacks the size and spontaneity of its forefathers.  Should I settle for something inferior, or keep attacking?

 

 

The Studio

 

 

 

Studio Notes

Good day.  There's a feeling one gets when everything goes right in the studio.  You know what you are doing is good, and you almost can't believe you've done it.  You keep at it, hitting it week after week, like a boxer working a bag.  Eventually you break through.  It might not be finished, but the painting has succumbed; there is no more resistance.

The large triptych is there.  It was a mess, frustrating me.  It is fiery and full of movement, bordering on violence.  I may call it "A Season in Hell" after the book of poems by Rimbaud.  It seems appropriate.  There is a lot of red going on in the studio.  It feels a bit like hell.

 

Studio Notes

I'm not sure if I'm moving forward or regressing to my earliest look, style, process.  I knocked out two large pieces in two weeks.  The "Little Four" and the triptych are killing me, not cooperating at all.  This is really frustrating.  I keep going in, like a soldier on the front, pushing, pushing forward, sometimes only a foot at a time.  I approach them tentatively, then with a fury.  Either way I'm not happy with the results.  Am I over-thinking, trying too hard?  I had to turn the two large finished pieces to the wall; I kept referencing them, trying to replicate.  Ugh.  These pieces are stressing me out.  Fucking stupid paintings!  I guess if it were too easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.

 

Studio Notes

I'm working with an imaginary stopwatch.  I get nervous if I don't have a brush in my hand, as if I'm wasting time.  Less thinking, more painting.  I don't have the time.  It's all going to disappear soon.  Paint, paint, paint.  A strange approach I must say.  Speed painting.  Maybe it's all shit.  Painting requires time.  The pieces need to breathe, absorb, settle.  I'm rushing them, pushing them along.  Forcing them?  Hmm.

 

Studio Notes

The struggle.  Paintings resisting, me dancing away, unsure what move to make.  Sitting, thinking, scared.  I get an idea, go in again and bring the large pieces to the next level.  F. Kline seems to be coming through.  More work needed.

 

Studio Notes

Attacking the paintings in a surprisingly methodical way, considering my head.  There are interesting bits that appear, but they lack the guts and overall apocalyptic feeling I'm after.  It will take months to bring them there.

 

Studio Notes

Still uncomfortable, still anxious, like playing scales on a piano, just feeling it out, building surfaces without direction or purpose.  Up and down the scales.

 

Studio Notes

It was/is frightening being back after so long, like seeing an old girlfriend that you're still in love with; it's awkward, you don't know how to begin, how to move, you've lost your voice, your rhythm, your cool.  It took me ages to get started.  I painted out pieces that were unfinished white.  I scavenged some wood.  I painted that white with gesso too.  Then I stared at these white surfaces, unsure what my next move would/should be.  I imagine there will be several weeks (months?) of this.

 

 

 

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