Saturday, September 23, 2006

An early morning meeting with Ken Moffett

A studio visit this morning with critic and friend Kenworth Moffett (that's him all stylish on the left, with Jules Olitski and Clement Greenberg). He had come to Montreal for Peter G. Ray's new exhibition in his studio/gallery space in Point St. Charles.
In the course of our discussion, he expressed a desire for stronger marks which assert themselves more, inflect more stability, and lend greater cohesion to the composition. I surprised myself by replying not only with my usual lines about going further and seeing what lies past strength and cohesion, but my eeking out something about not having found a method to make strong marks that don’t just feel like another painter’s strength borrowed. That I am finding a back door to strength, or maybe ignoring the door altogether.
After an hour he acknowledged that the paintings are a “long look”, and that they come together after some time in front of your eyes.
It was lovely to find our friendship had grown out of the hero-worship stage.
I love having Ken to the studio, the conversation travels so many places from loneliness of painting to new possibilities in Beijing to my job at the Laundromat to the joy of friendships forged in a shared of love of painting. The possibility of an east coast painting junket next spring was suggested.
The delight lies in a temporary relief from the terror of action through the love of growing friendship. Maybe a bit polyanna, but Ken makes me hopeful.
Now I’m off to the Guido Molinari retrospective at the Maison de la Culture de Maisonneuve, it is two blocks from my studio.

3 comments:

My Own Biggest Fan said...

I have no idea how to talk like an artist at most times, but this conversation I get. I think it is the reason I don't paint or sculpt yet. I don't understand what obstacles I need to overcome, even when I encounter them.

Huh? Did that make sense?

Wil Murray said...

Hmmm...I don't think i understand how it relates back to my conversation with Ken.

The beauty of having him to the studio is that it is not tied to some ends, the visits occurr randomly. This allows for discussions on my owrk and painting in which our agreement or disagreement do not affect some immediate future. While he makes many suggestions, these can be countered and his next visit won't be clouded by resentment if they are not followed...beyond this he's quite willing to acknowledge his inability to discuss the specific studio techniques, as he says "I'm no artist".
In this, his indicating potential obstacles isn't threatening or tied diectly to some clear ends(a show, an article, inclusion), and so I can consider them without attempting to justify myself(especially remarkable given the wide age gap between us, I am a terrific hero-worshipper sometimes).

Wil Murray said...

Yesterday in the bath I was, coincidentally thinking about the whole analogy of the boulder in one's path. In my steamy haze I thought that art making was less like finding a way around or over, but rather figuring out how to launch as much of oneself over the boulder so that in the eventuality of someone on the other side finding your suff, they could do what they will with the information your ejected stuff provides. Clothes, hair, fingernail clippings, a drawing of the boulder from your side....hell, a leg if you're really a tough ass.