February 2023

Stories from the Studio (#2)

Philip Gerstein



"The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can...

...And whither then? I cannot say."

~JRR Tolkien  


The Painting Center in Chelsea, New York City, has put one of my smaller size paintings into its benefit online show (at ARTSY here).

This painting, "Unusual Suspect", was not one of my 'longer' paintings: it was arrived at quickly; in fact its very presence depends on this quick kinetic gesture. The color interplay prolongs and enriches the experience, completing the painting.



 "Unusual Suspect",  20 x 16 in. (51 x 41 cm),
 Flashe & acrylic on wood panel,  2022


Creating a painting, making it appear seemingly "out of the thin air", is actually not all fun and games and quick certainties... . Sometimes, the joy of watching them emerge  -- all a-promise with something new and heretofore unseen -- is followed by periods of doubt, searching, listlessness, even despair. Perhaps the ultimate key here is to find joy in the search itself, while the process comes to a resting point in the fullness of time. The result then is only occasionally one final exclamation mark, a penultimate gesture -- a hosanna from the heavens bursting open into a revelation. More often this creation process is a series / a string of balancing points, each requiring a decision, a determination of whether to proceed, to alter or keep the balance already achieved. And any mark beyond that, oh so fragile balancing point, leads to the next series of call-and-response decisions of unknown magnitude... this world's uncertainty principle asserting itself at the usual irregular intervals.


To give an example:

My recent November 2022 feature on Scene4, " Esprit Rude / Esprit Doux" , was dedicated to the long journey of one of my paintings. From winter beginnings to summer completion, it kept improving, ever lighter in joyous spirit, while more complex in color relationships. Even its changed name, "Blue Happiness", was to reflect its newfound optimism. And so, at the very least, another large painting completed  -- or so I thought... . Not so fast!.. said the painting.



 In progress --"Blue Happiness ?", 36 x 48 in. (122 x 91 cm),

 Oil stick, acrylic & flashe on wood panel


Now, yet again, it's a painting in progress; orientation changed, colors added, final destination unknown... but hope springs internal -- and I shall keep you posted on the journey!..


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Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Philip Gerstein began exhibiting his work in the 1980's, while pursuing a PhD in Art History at Harvard University. He studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Japanese calligraphy with Toshu Ogawa. Gerstein exhibits in NYC, Provincetown MA, and extensively in the Boston area, as well as organizing and curating painting and photography shows. His work has been reviewed, reproduced and praised in many publications, including The Boston Globe, ArtScope Magazine, and Art New England. For his other work in Scene4, check the Archives

©2023 Philip Gerstein
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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