Robert Wallace




Studio Notes

"Working hard" is an expression I don't really care for.  The opposite - "hardly working" - is equally bad.  But I have been clocking a lot of hours recently on this series.  It won't soon be finished.  So I keep at it.  But then, there is no "finished".  It is continuous, one piece growing into the next, like things in a garden that suddenly appear, connected to, but separate from that which was planted.  It's the going that interests me.  Where is it going?


Studio Notes

Sometimes painting is so strange and wonderful it makes me a little sick.  When a painting just goes offf in a direction you weren't expecting.  You're not sure if it is good or bad, but it's exciting.  It's taken you to somewhere new.  You're a little nervous.  Your shoulders tense, your stomach is full of mad butterflies.

I need a drink.


Studio Notes

A painting, if it's good, should take you on a ride.  There is no map for the artist.  You must go and go, letting the painting lead you.  You will know when it's done.  It is not a flight, with the destination predetermined.  If I travel 9,143km I will arrive in Los Angeles.  No!  There is no destination for a painting.  You must avoid trying to get anywhere.  It is folly.

That is why I believe in abstract painting.  Pure abstraction.  It is the most honest art.  There is no leading or manipulation.  All the conventional methods of communication are removed, broken down.  It is a sort of primal, visceral language, if it is anything at all.  Where nothing and something have equal value.  There is nothing clever about abstraction.  It succeeds or fails because of heart, not erudition.  The connection is natural, organic.


Studio Notes

I've begun a new painting whose scale is well beyond the parameters of my tiny studio.  It is perhaps a foolish undertaking, but painting is not a reasonable activity.  I've no idea what I'm doing or where this is going.  That's okay.  Painting should be a little bewildering.  If it's not, there's no point doing it.






This is Part 5 in the series of short films documenting the (four)est art project in the mountains of northern Kyoto (Japan).


March 2019









notes and impressions

part 5 (March 24 & 25, 2019)


Hide and seek sunshine, a brief hailstorm, sakura peaking out, rooftop snow melting. The battle between winter and spring. A certain tension.




 No. 4 Kameoka


亀岡 | Kameoka


Number four (四) in Kameoka has slid from its stone pedestal. Strange. It survived Typhoon 21 back in September, hadn’t moved an inch. Now it is living with the bugs in the leaves and twigs. It is beginning to suffer a bit. Darkening. The kimono fabric is threadbare in places, a slow disappearance. Insects?




No. 1 Miyama 


美山 | Miyama


Number one (一) in Miyama is clean. Perhaps it’s the steepness of the mountain. Leaves, twigs, dirt, can’t collect; they just drift right past, carried on down the mountain. Animal droppings suggest some nocturnal interest by deer.




No. 2 Keihoku 


京北 | Keihoku 


The narrow path along the bank of the little stream in Keihoku is muddy and a little treacherous. The painting is covered in the usual dirt and debris. It’s hard to tell if this is real, permanent change, or something a feather duster might easily remove. It does seem sort of superficial, a kind of conspicuous dress-up for the visiting artist.




No. 3 Kuta

久多 | Kuta 


It’s chilly in Kuta, spring clearly napping here. The white of number three (三) is finally, maybe showing some weathering. Close inspection reveals some slight discoloration, a subtle splotchiness, fading. Then again, that may be how it started.





Studio Notes

I think I say this often: a strange painting.  I never know where they come from, which, I suppose, is why I keep painting.  That discovery.  Pulling things out from deep inside.  That journey without destination.  Just go and see where you end up.


Studio Notes

When you ask questions and there is no real reply, just low-frequency murmurs, it is troubling.  Sometimes a painting has nothing to say.  You can play the tough guy and force it to speak.  Or you can wait.  With either approach there's no way to know if it has anything to say.  It could just be a bad painting.


Studio Notes

It's still difficult for me to accept that a painting can be complete, or near complete, in a few days.  In my Brooklyn studio paintings were something labored over for weeks and months.  A painter must labor.  It shows his or her sincerity.  I am confused by paintings that come together too easily.  I don't trust them.




Uji River (宇治川)


exterior interior


Sanjo Ohashi (三条大橋)


Gozen-dori (Saiin)





1.  The pursuit of beauty

2.  Just passing through

3.  devolution

4.  night creatures

5.  buttons, switches, levers

6.  umbrella skeletons

7.  gestation

8.  new cotton

9.  a stopped watch

10. in constant becoming

11. Picasso couldn't do this

12. Why, why, why?

13. cheated and defeated

14. I'm probably in love

15. rain birds

16. conversations with myself

17. I live on another planet

18. years and years

19a. Thinking of New York

19b. New York doesn't exist

20. one of these days

21. handsome devil

22. an aesthete

23. 心

24. listening to the music

25. "becoming and extinction"

26. for posterity

27. a sort of disguise

28. il est mort

29. a million love songs

30. I'm alive

31. the earth's eight corners

32. biding time

33. degrees

All content © 2011 by Robert Wallace
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