Robert Wallace

Ephemera

 

 

Studio Notes

The paintings are smoke and fire now, clouds and a blazing sunset.  They're New Year's Eve at the Yasakajinja Shrine, fortunes written on sticks burning in the black night.  How and why?  One must push until something comes  out, break the skin and see the blood.

 

Studio Notes

The Checklist paintings no longer seem to be Checklist paintings.  The lists have been buried.  The restrictive black and white color palette has been subjugated.  Mostly these six little paintings are floundering, flopping around helplessly like caught fish before they meet the club.

 

Studio Notes

When I'm in the studio painting I'm often so deep in my own head I sometimes forget where I am.  I forget that I am in Japan.  The dialogue is between myself and my paintings.  It is slightly shocking when I open the door and step into Kyoto.

The Checklist paintings are just beginning to open up.  A whisper, "This way."  Not the path I expected, but I'll go along, see where it leads before I take the wheel.

 

Studio Notes

I've lost the connection to the brushes.  I feel a tourist visiting a strange land.  What am I doing here?  I must work hard to reestablish communication.

Restrictions are in place: A4-sized printed Checklists, black and gray washi, black and white paint.  Now what?

 

 

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This is a short film produced on the occasion of my exhibition Under the Influence: paintings and the collected ephemera of life at Foil Gallery in Kyoto, Japan 2015.

 

 

Checklist

 

1.   The flâneur vs. the salaryman

2.   Train station announcements

3.   For all we know

4.   Having outgrown their usefulness

5.   That didn’t pan out

6.   Existential forecast

7.   Drunk as a skunk

8.   jusqu’à la fin

9.   Painting at it

10.  Document the abrasions

11.  Don’t despair

12.  Up, down, across

13.  instant dream / dream instant

14.  Took it too far

15.  The greatest unknown

16.  Living like it’s 1915

17.  It’s been so long

18.  sunrise: 4:44AM; sunset: 7:08PM

19.  Like opening the wrong side of the milk carton

20.  Intellectual mumbo jumbo

21.  Am I repeating myself?

22.  (re)view

23.  Never bow to the Burning Sky

24a. confronting death

24b. investing in rain-checks

25.  Japonisme

26.  I’m tired of

27.  Throwaway 20/1

28.  When you ain’t got nothing to lose

29.  Round and round and round

30.  hors pistes

31.  Keep up the façade

32.  Numbered days

33.  Degrees

 

 

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Under the Influence: The Collective Ephemera Wall

Foil Gallery August 1 -16, 2015

 

 Under the Influence は日々私たちが集めている一見ランダムで関連のないもの全てを用い、私たちが誰であるかとうことを浮かび上がらせる試みです。この「日常の陽炎」は私たちの潜在意識に浸透し、しばしば他のものとして再浮上します。私にとってこれらは文字通り大小様々な影響を作品に及ぼし、テクスチャーと色をそこから受け取っています。

来場者それぞれが日々の「日常の陽炎」がどのように影響を与えているかを、考えるきっかけとし、ギャラリーの壁にそれらを展示してもらいます。ランチのレシート、誰かにもらった名刺、読みかけの雑誌のページ、スーパーのチラシ、電車の切符、壊れた傘、古い写真など、なんでも構いません。ピン、画鋲、テープ、ホッチキスなどを使用して壁に展示してください。

そしてこのコラージュの成長を見守るために、会期中は毎日フォイルHPとロバート・ウォレスHPにてにて壁の写真をアップします。

 

Under the Influence is my attempt to show how all the seemingly random and unrelated things that collect around us everyday actually shape who we are.  This ephemera penetrates our subconscious and often resurfaces as something else.  For me, these are the influences large and small that literally go into my paintings and give them form, texture and color.

 I invite the viewer to think about their own personal daily ephemera and what influence it has upon them, and to post something here on the gallery wall.  It could be anything: a receipt from lunch, a business card which someone gave you, a page from the magazine you’re reading, a grocery list, a train ticket, your broken umbrella, an old photograph.  Use the pins, thumbtacks, tape and stapler provided to stick these things on the wall.

Then watch the collage grow over the next two weeks.  I will photograph the ephemera that is put up here each day and post the photos on my website www.rscottwallace.com and the Foil Gallery website www.foilkyoto.com.

 

 

Studio Notes

The last push before the show.  Painting in the morning heat with the cicada.  Finally this large triptych looks like something.  Days doubting; you won't finish.  Then it reveals itself.  Confidence returns.

 

Studio Notes

Driven by fatigue.  Can't know if this piece is anywhere until my eyes are clear and bright.  Maybe just applying paint and paper simply to cover the large panels.  Wrongheaded approach.  Leave it open, let it breathe.  Pull back.  Anyway, there is perhaps too much pressure to finish for this ever to be good.

 

Studio Notes

Pushing, pushing because of the exhibition deadline, but is it any good?  I like working towards something, a show, but a painting mustn't be forced.  Uncertainty hangs over the work.  Tonight it is an I-don't-know.  We'll see what morning light brings.

 

Studio Notes

Chasing something.  A color, a feeling.  Hints of an earlier painting.  But the light is dim and the fatigue stains my eyes.  The pressure of the show looms large.  Best foot forward.  First and last chances.

This is coming from the kitchen uncooked, totally raw.  It is the result (perhaps) of 6+ months of stuttering.  This is where we were going.  This is where we were going?

 

Studio Notes

It's a battle.  So many years of attack, attack, attack.  Now, trying to hold back, simplify, make something light, open.  I must be careful not to eviscerate the painting.

 

Studio Notes

Too long idle brushes.  How to view it: a fresh start without baggage, or lost rhythm and direction.

Still chasing that restrained Japanese style.  Decent start.  Potential for something good or a derailment.  So it is with every painting.

 

 

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Studio Notes

It's getting good.  A lightness to these colors.  A new dialogue between paper and paint.

 

Studio Notes

Color palette defined by washi paper.  Rich earth tones.  It rips and bleeds beautifully.  Black and white paint over/under.  It's all somehow early 20th Century, a cup of coffee in Vienna before the Wars.

 

Studio Notes

Sometimes a painting won't speak to you until dusk.  The changing light.  Shadows grow.  Colors somehow become more lush.  I sit staring at the painting wondering where it came from.  60 minutes earlier we weren't speaking.  There was no dialogue.  Is this something?

 

Studio Notes

Another long pause.  Dull brushes.  Another eruption.  Action.  This piece is a loaded spring, rough, moving from left to right.  A mid-century color palette.

Still the Japanese sumi-e approach eludes me.  One can't force a painting to be something it is not.  Like John Lee Hooker said, "it's in you and it's got to come out."  The others will come when they come.

 

 

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Studio Notes

The little piece that pushes and pulls.  Uncertainty.  This one, despite its diminutive size, asks something.  It requires your time.  You're not going to get off easy. Troublesome.

 

Studio Notes

It was getting good.  Then...it went off the tracks.  Paintings are funny that way; they can sometimes be rather delicate creatures.  It is important to listen.  Don't be headstrong with your ideas about the direction they should go.  Push them, but recognize resistance.

And then it busts wide open.  Your patience is rewarded and you remember why you do this.

 

Studio Notes

Finally put hand to brush and brush to panel after a too-long hiatus.  Always difficult to return.  The relationship is severed.  You don't know the paintings, and they don't know you.  Basically starting over.

Working towards neutral.  Black and white.  Washi paper in earth tones.  Away from color riots.  A miniature "fusuma" is the direction.  Four panels that tell one story.

 

 

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Checklist

 

1.  Nobody else to blame

2.  The cricket’s chirp

3.  Remarkably ordinary lives

4.  Race 7 – Flat Gone

5.  art bilk

6.  I’m sure I’ve seen this movie before

7.  Everyday…still here

8.  Page not found

9.  Broke the skin

10. Unsolicited exclusion

11. Make it through to the other side

12. Like a gunfighter

13. When the money’s all gone

14. Voice control

15. Wary of one’s countrymen

16. Reading yesterday’s news

17. Sitting Japanese

18. Oh yeah, here I am

19. Assistance vs. assistants

20. A keen observer

21. The smell of earth

22. Someone I used to know

23. Don’t lose focus

24. Losing the point

25. Pigeonholed

26. Speaking to an audience of one

27. Between stations

28. A coquettish smile?

29. art gibberish

30. Feeling combative

31. It all adds up

32. This isn’t working

33. Degrees

 

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