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Posts Tagged ‘Abstract Expressionism’

OrangeBlue
If you want to paint fast and in layers, acrylic is your best medium. One layer of gestural splashes, as in this painting by Keren Vishny, can dry in about ten minutes. This is quite an exciting way to paint. Though it may seem careless and easy, it is neither. Working like this takes a lot of concentration. It’s like doing a dance step with the same expression but allowing slight variations as long as they fit into the expressive range. Theme and variation.
BlueOrangeAbove is the finished painting. Here on the right, the almost finished painting, where the vertical drips in the middle were felt to be too insistent, too demanding on the eye because they were uninterrupted. (Enlarge and compare to the finished work.)
The painting can fall into the category “Abstract Expressionism” and also in “All-Over Painting.” When working in this “all-over” mode, patters tend to emerge with one element assuming a starring role. As soon as one element stands out, the all-over feeling is destroyed. The artist must always stand back and see the whole.  It’s  not easy to paint this way.
Painting by Keren Vishny, acrylic on canvas, 40”x30”
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14Subway
What about that deep red disc in the upper right? Would the painting be better without? Should it go? Should it be in another part of the painting? Does it need a companion, another disc somewhere, at least one? These are the questions that came up as the rest of the class looked at Maria Palacios’ painting. One person said, “It’s disturbing.” And so it is. Your eye keeps moving up there to the right, wondering, what’s that doing there. You can’t quite answer the question, but you know, that without the disks (see it photoshopped out, below), the painting might slide into the decorative category.

14SubwayNoDiskWithout the disc the painting still holds my attention, with its rhythms and progressions. What’s foreground, what’s background? What’s moving, what feels stable?  Fascinating. The painting came about after the artist had made a personal study of Hans Hofmann, the German-American abstract expressionist, 1880-1966. 

Yes, the disc is disturbing, and that’s good. Makes you think. I don’t think it needs a companion because another disk would merely add balance. It could be in another corner, but anywhere else, it would lack weight, would be tame.  Keep it there, in the upper right, where it puzzles and provokes you.
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 In the 50’s a New York postal clerk named Herbert Vogel (1922-2012) hung out with Abstract Expressionists in the Cedar Street Tavern.  He tried painting himself, but felt he wasn’t any good.  He gave up painting and became a collector.  After he married Dorothy, a librarian, they lived on her salary—in a one bedroom apartment–and spent his on contemporary art, primarily emerging conceptual and minimalist artists. They got to know the young artists and closely studied their working methods and thought processes.  In 1992 they donated their collection of 4782 pieces, by then worth millions, to the National Gallery and galleries in all fifty states.

In 2008 Megumi Sasaki documented their obsession in “Herb and Dorothy”.   Did someone say “obsession”?  Maybe it wasn’t an obsession or an addiction.  Maybe it was love.  Meditation?  Wisdom?  Greed? Quest for fame?   Watch the movie, highly recommended.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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