In last month's feature, I introduced a different species of my painting – a dense, color-soaked, highly textural cycle of work ("And Now for Something Completely Different"). This variety of abstraction, as is generally acknowledged, was given
permission to exist by the Action Painting precedent within the American Abstract Expressionist movement. By now, one needs no further permission to 'stand on the shoulders' of
those giants and to expand further upon their experimentation.
Personally, I came to abstraction in what I imagine is the best (logical & harmonious) way possible: by abstracting things/objects in my figural and especially my landscape painting attempts. After years of doubts and experiments, I gave myself full permission to paint in several modes ("styles") of abstraction at the same time.
In this I am, increasingly, far from alone. More artists are utilizing this 'multi-modal' option, no matter how heavily discouraged it has been among the galleries and art museums
and by generations of art critics. In this new millennium of universal internet availability, such strictures no longer make creative sense, even when they still tend to make
mercantile sense. Clearly, it's way easier to be able to pigeon-hole an artist in order to promote and sell their work. Will then the integrity to one's creative drive win out in
the end, choosing a longer but perhaps a more authentic path? In a Post-Newtonian truism, the certainty of a straight line is no longer the shortest distance between two points.
The painting I want you to consider here, features nary a straight line, and is barely contained by the strict rectangle that is its wood panel
"Find Your Passion", 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.),
Oil stick, acrylic, and mixed media on wood panel, 2016
Layers of paint and translucent medium add up to high texture, while deliberately matte finish scatters the light, enhancing further the painting's
considerable physical presence (as seen in a detail of its upper left corner).
"Find Your Passion", Detail 1
I recall it took some courage to stop and to decide this painting was finished. Here I was assisted by precedent. Some time during the many
months of working on this painting, I saw an exhibition of late period works of Jules Olitski (an exceptionally gifted 2nd generation Abstract
Expressionist painter), at a South End Boston gallery fresh from a New York show. Their compositional arrangement acknowledged the picture
rectangle prominently amidst the heavy textures, and their palette was shocking, almost a full step brighter than the currently prevailing mode.
When I finally considered my nearly finished painting, I noticed that its upper right corner (in Detail 2 below) could almost pass for one of those
late Olitskis!.. and thus given permission by the late master himself, I proceeded to retain this corner and complete this long-in-the-making, patient and passionate work… .
"Find Your Passion", Detail 2