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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Boyer’

17march

Your first impression may be that something’s exploding here.  But notice that in an explosion there would be a center and you can’t find one of those here.  Once you’re used to the chaos, you follow the blue lines and, oops, where do they lead you?  Back in! There you may not find an epicenter, but you do find chaos, a popping chaos. Now you’re out again only to be led in again by the blue lines.  At some point during this back and forth, you notice the white disc.  So discreet, against a light background, off center and not at all commanding.  But once you see it, you realize that there was a subtle mind at play here.

I only wish it were huge, 8 feet high, big enough to fill a wall.

Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

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

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17feb

Just try!  Look at this and try being bored.  Try harder.

Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

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

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16sept1

The “Mondrian Class” once again filled up this fall. After three weeks it feels like a running start and I’m trying to keep up with the blog posts about the work. Here’s the first painting this term by Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” 24.”  Makes perfect sense. Now, how can we articulate that?

For more by Bruce Boyer, see links listed at

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/untitled-xii/

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

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2Untitled16April28Sunspots

The previous post’s painting might have been titled “Untitled I.”  I think all abstract paintings are best left untitled, but we have to catalog them and for that purpose they need an ID.  Notice how lame the title “Stretch” is for this painting. Why not “Two Kites” or “Yellow and Blue” or “Two White Lines and Three Black Lines” or “Some Orange Fireworks?”  All equally lame.  Attempts at metaphysics would lead to titles like “Inner Conflict” or “Revelations” or “Finding My Way.”  Even worse!

The reason titles that try to be descriptive are so bad is that the painting is not descriptive of anything.  The painter is not trying to describe or illustrate anything.

In naming my own paintings I have taken an absurd route, determined to avoid descriptive lameness.

http://katherinehilden.com.  In a section called Notes, I explain how I arrived at those forgettable titles:

http://katherinehilden.com/notes.html.   The result is that I cannot remember the titles of my own paintings, which is what I want.  I have to remember them visually.

This is the second of twelve consecutive posts featuring the work of Bruce Boyer.  I want everyone to be able to scroll down and see this work as uninterrupted by verbiage as possible.  I’ll comment occasionally, but sometimes not at all.  Let this simulate a gallery experience.

All paintings are 30”x40” and were produced earlier this year, from January to May, but will not be posted in the order of their production.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/black-dot-anthropocentrism/

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

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MunchAnalysis1This is the first stage of a painting.  Notice that it repeats the same V-shape over and over.

In the next stage, a black shape was added (1). For now, ignore  (2) and (3), which were put in  at the very end of the work process.

Munch copy

Notice that (1) repeats that V-shape.  When I saw the painting at this stage,  I said to the artist, “looks a little like a tree.”  A strange little tree, to be sure, with its sinuous trunk and just two short branches, but still, the shape says “treeness.”  Maybe a tree with its branches “reaching” up.  The word “reach” suggests a personification of the tree.

Personification is very tempting. The artist dipped his brush into the black paint again and deftly placed a dot between the “branches.”

MunchFinal

That small dot radically changed the game.  Try seeing that black shape as a tree now.  Impossible.  Try seeing it as something other than a woman with her arms raised.  Try harder.  Can’t be done.

Not only are you seeing a woman with her arms raised, but this shape and association now dominate the painting to such a degree that you feel compelled to interpret everything else in the painting in relation to it.  The tree dominated over all the other shapes and the puzzle at that stage  was how to fit it into the rest of the painting. But thanks to this little dot the black shape’s humanoid association will not allow your mind to wander away.  It’s absolute and absolutely uncanny.

This is what we do in art.  We look at how our mind and imagination work.

After this jaw-dropping black dot appeared, the artist tried to subvert the tyranny of that black humanoid shape by painting in a large yellow disk and a little white rectangle.  What does that do?  Well, now we have to acknowledge these also and fit them into some interpretation.  (1), (2) and (3) are now competing for our attention.   The humanoid can now more easily be seen as a shape among other shapes.  It’s a relief, isn’t it.  But the humanoid still dominates.  No way around it.  Were wired to zoom in on hints of our human shape, however sketchy, distorted or bizarre.

Painting by Bruce Boyer. Oil on Canvas, 30”x40”

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

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Jan2015

You saw this painting (30” x 40”) in a gallery. You stood in front of it so long that you thought you might as well buy it if it’s going to hold your attention like that. You take it home. You hang it in your dining room and start preparing for your dinner party that night. You have just four people over, people you’ve known forever, who sometimes get rowdy and other times yawn without apologizing. But this evening you notice that they’re exceptionally witty and imaginative. You credit the painting for this lively upswing in your social life. Over the weekend your retired uncle Bert is dropping by on his way to the hardware store. Because of his back, he prefers to sit in the dining room chairs and he says, “what in the sweet-baby-jesus name is that supposed to be.” He’s trying to describe to you how he’s planning to rig the back gate so the kids won’t cut through his yard on their way to school, but he can’t seem to keep his bolts, wires and springs straight. He keeps repeating what he just said, going in circles, and relating things that aren’t mechanically connected in his invention. He mumbles something about getting older and he’s got to be going and would you happen to have a couple of aspirin.

You’re determined to get to the bottom of this. You take down your heirloom oil painting of the Spanish galleon from over the mantel in your living room along with the carved candelabra and you hang this new painting there. You plunk down on the couch in front of it, determined to enjoy an afternoon of peaceful art contemplation. Two hours later you’re in the kitchen pouring yourself a double Black Label. You stagger to your computer and write angry letters to congressmen about global warming and to the New Yorker about the use of the word “iconic.” You go on Facebook and unfriend anybody who’s ever posted a cat video or that thing where the elephant and the dog become best friends forever. You email your ex to say, the arrangement with the kids is not working, we have to do better. You suddenly realize that your mom doesn’t want another frog broach for her birthday, what she would really enjoy is a plate of little sandwiches you made and sit in the backyard with you one afternoon. You pick up that library book, the one that needs to be renewed again soon, about genocide in the 20th century that you’ve been mostly not reading because it’s so awful to think about that. It must be getting late, you guess, you go back to the living room, reach up to grab the painting with one hand, you unhook it and take it upstairs to your bedroom. Tomorrow you’ll hang it. For now you lean it against the dresser and you throw a sheet over it so you won’t accidentally catch sight of it and be drawn into its vortex.

In the morning you hang it properly and you start a new early-rise meditation. You stand in front of it for five minutes, a to-do list racing through your mind. Can do! You drape the sheet over it for the rest of the day because you have no time to look. Too much to do, to fix, to learn, to experience!

Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

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

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15Jan1

Look at this. What a mess, you say. One color blotch after another, no repetition of forms, no pattern, no order of any kind.
15Jan1GoldenSecLook again. There’s a black vertical line right in the middle(yellow arrows) If you draw a horizontal line through its top end, you get a golden section (green). If you draw a line through the bottom end point of the black line, you get a golden section (purple). You have to be pretty desperate to find some structure here to do this exercise and you have to be fond of the golden section. I happen to enjoy looking for structure and I’m besotted with the golden section. But that’s all I can come up with here.
Now, aside from the hunt for the golden section, reconsider the mess. Look yet again. If you look closely, if you zoom in, you can find exquisite passages. Here are some. Imagine each as a new painting.——————————————————————————

15Jan1B15Jan1C

 

 

 

 

15Jan1E15Jan1F

 

 

 

 

 

——–
The painting as a whole was incomprehensible and hard to look at—as a whole. But it consists of potential paintings that are quite dynamic and, at the same time, orderly.
Painting by Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 40” x 30”
15Jan1GAll contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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