I'm nervous because I know where I want these new four to go. This is somewhat contrary to my process. Maybe I always know where a painting is headed. Maybe I am always stearing it in one direction or another. Which then begs the question: does true improvisation exist? Can one create anything without some forethought?
The challenge now is to build up a surface - color, texture. Then strip it down, bring it back to nothing. Push the paintings. Find the negative space and simple, intentional gestures of a sumi-e painting. Away from the all-over attack.
The first stab at painting in the new digs. Space, or the lack thereof, will define all my work here. Small. Controlled gestures. I have to treat it as if I'm working en plein air, setting up, then packing everything away when I'm finished. I don't have the luxury of leaving a mess. Adjustment of habits. But I must continue to work. No excuses. Bukowski's "air and light and time and space".
Reata (Seika University), Kyoto
1. Time & space
2. A little more time, a little more money
3. Self-important cunts
4. Letters that were never sent
5. Wood for the fire
6. Kyoto blues
7. This is unreasonable
8. Considering criminal activity
10. Do no harm
11. Engagement with damage
13. Listen with your heart
14. Bathtub philosophizing
16. “My Favorite Things”
17. Black coffee
18. Three large sakes
19. Be mindful
20. The path of the butterfly
21. Wake me up
22. Postcards to the Dead-Letter-Office
23. I’m not here
24. Like a piece of fallen fruit
25. Le carré vert
26. It feels like a battle
27. Dystopian future
29. Saint Rita of Cascia
32. ends will not meet
1 minute and 38 seconds in Los Angeles.
1. A different cadence
3. Finding alone
4. Must keep trying
5. I don’t trust happiness
6. Well, yeah, of course
7. After a while the sun will shine
8. So much to do
9. Redoubled his efforts
10. Where are you going?
11. Le Peintre
12. Her walk, the way her hips swayed
13. Devising methods and routines
14. Bone-rattling cold
16. A portal for ghosts
17. Simmer down
18. He always liked her better from a distance
19. Tree trunk graffiti
20. Oh man, Nat King Cole
21. With art as their currency
23. “Waiting for the Moon”
24. Past tense
25. It smells old
26. I am unreasonably confident
27. Tulse Luper
28. Too fast for his old ears
29. Irons in the fire
31. Learning to count
32. “reduced to an artist”
Winter Garden is a short film by artist Robert Wallace inspired in part by the diaristic cinema of Jonas Mekas. It was shot from his bedroom window in Kyoto, Japan at the same time every morning over two months in the winter of 2014.
Finished. Three more paintings and another studio.
Maybe I say this a lot about new work, but these pieces are strange. I like them, but I'm not sure where they are coming from. Is it the melancholia or anxiety of leaving that spawns these odd paintings?
The last from 12-19 Shinkai Gokanosho.
I don't know if these three new pieces are good or bad, really good or really bad. They are definitely challenging. They feel like the last paintings from the old Red Hook studio: "Order Collapsing" and "French Lessons". There is that same feeling of things falling apart, a flower that has been trampled.
I think...these are done. We've stopped fighting. But I need to sit with them. Like a piece of meat from the grill, they need to rest.
There is a flatness to these pieces, which is odd because there are about 30 paintings buried in each one. There is real depth, but because they haven't that landscape feel of the autumn series they seem to exist only on the surface. There is something strangely regal, almost religious about them. It is the colors and the kimono fabric.
A series has to be built all at the same time. There is no catching up. There is a rhythm. Injecting a new canvas or panel into the group will upset that rhythm. Like a drummer missing a beat, the whole song falls apart.
The "kimono four" are somewhere now - finally. Only I'm not sure I like wherever that somewhere is. I don't know if we should stay, or continue on to somewhere else.
These are becoming those sort of paintings with a million lives. Each new layer is a total obliteration of the one beneath, the one that preceeded it. It is interesting sometimes to record the evolution in photos, to see all the earlier rejected incarnations. There is finally the first faint hint of a painting now. They could just as easily go off the tracks - again.
These four are still resisting. They won't move forward. I stare at them and I don't see anything, there is no hint of direction. Is it my head? Too much clutter.
I've got enough material here in this little studio for three months of painting. It's a shame I've got less than six weeks.
Maybe those paintings in the autumn were coming too easily. These new pieces are not budging. They aren't telling me anything; there is no dialogue.
Painting (art) is work, no matter what anyone says. Beware the artist that tells you otherwise.
Painting is an activity that invites self-doubt as often as it does confidence.
My efforts to reintroduce color into my work has so far resulted in some seriously ugly paintings. Perhaps it is too much all at once. Just a few months ago I was attacking the concept of a series. Now it seems I'm lost if I try to paint one-offs. Oh, the old familiar battle. Paintings being uncooperative. Ugh. Walk away. Let them have this one. Tomorrow is another day.
F#@%ing ugly! The cold must be affecting my brain. It's almost too cold to paint. A new viscosity to my paint and my thoughts.
I've been working in a limited color palette for so many months the introduction of new colors is shocking. I like the unity or cohesiveness of one color. I like moving around from piece to piece without changing or even rinsing the brush.
I was given some beautiful kimono fabric to work with. I am honestly a little afraid of it. It is so powerful, not just the colors and patterns, but the cultural references, the symbolism. I am not Japanese. I have no problem layering Japanese newspapers and other detritus including Buddhist scripture into my work. But I fear this may be viewed as false and contrived. If I lay it in and destroy it as I do with most everything that makes it into my paintings, might that be construed as disrespectful? Dilemma. Thinking too much. Just paint.
be-kyoto gallery (Kyoto)
1. Trying to think
2. The last
3. One-way ticket
4. What have I done?
5. This is where it’s at
6. Summer songs
7. Water from a garden hose
9. His involuntary vacation
10. Venomous tongues
12. Talking to the sky
13. Desperately unhappy
14. Movement has purchase
16. 20 Mule Team
17. Tokyo girls
18. Drink for a better tomorrow
19. You are here
20. Nothing matches
21. The sound of moving water
22. It will be a wildly romantic read
23. Memory of the world
24. Somewhere over the rainbow
25. Sans regret?
26. Elegant Saloon Series 8000
27. Talking to spiders
28. “Imaginary Dream Eater”
29. Train whistles
31. Remember when you told me to get a job?
32. “European Dogs”