Sunday, September 24, 2006

What Came Before After

The summer heat and my working 60 hours a week meant that I spent three months working almost exclusively on one painting. Entitled “The Profit I Raise Out Of This Boy Will Burn Your Eyes Clean”(studio photo above, 84” X 48”), it was the impetus to dig a little deeper into an ongoing discussion I have had with friends over the years about how the possibility of narrative in my painting, and how it differs significantly from music, literature or film. Thanks to Gavin, Justin, Jesse and Heather for their patience on this subject.

Music, literature and film are each contained by a beginning and an end. Each of these forms bring their audience along through time, their form predetermines a clear beginning and end point. A book is opened and begun from the first page, and read to the last. Even if you open the book to the middle and read backwards to the beginning and stop three pages from it, you are playing along a linear line.

In my paintings, the sole comparable narrative is the one that the painting tells of its own creation. The narrative of creation is seen in the singular image of the painting. You look down time, through the last marks made. The linear representation of the narrative is foreshortened and flattened into the single image.
Until now, the solely additive process of layering of paint meant that any mark would have to b protected through until the end if they were to be seen at all in the final image. Switching to acrylics last year, I began to remove sections to reveal older sections underneath. Compositionally this meant uncovering elements from which the subsequent marks had drawn their position, form, colour etc. and worked not as a replacement for the protection of marks(it would be impossible for me to hold in my head what each layer held underneath the visible), but a new way to include older marks later on. Even, in the case of “Making Love To His Eagle”(photo below), finish a painting by revealing the very first layer of paint.

Working on “The Profit I Raise Out Of This Boy Will Burn Your Eyes Clean” this summer a further and more elaborate confusion to the narrative the viewer would look down presented itself. The final mark made on the painting was re-applying a very central section from the first weeks of the painting in exactly the same spot it had originally appeared.

I can’t tell if this destroys the simile between the narratives of different forms or how it elaborates the one I am working with.

This post represents the beginning of what eventually led to the following posts:
Painting As Obituary
Mark Making and Prayer
Thanks To Flannery O'Connor: A Redemption Song

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