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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

My painting class is called “Impressions of Landscape.”   The recurring question is:  what is a landscape?  To make a landscape do you need a tree, a house, a mountain, clouds, a path leading somewhere? What?

You need a horizon line.  That’s not an aesthetic decision.  It’s not a matter of taste or personal preference.  It’s what your brain demands.  The horizon line is how it orients itself and it’s how it knows that the body it’s in charge of is standing up.

Once you accept that bare essential, you are free to play and goof off and be whimsical and testy.   I mentioned the work of John Baldessari in class and how his work subverts assumptions about language and frames of reference.

Sometimes goofing off, being whimsical and testy involves a lot of work.  One of my students, an architect, took up the dual challenge of paring down a landscape to the horizon line and subverting assumptions about frames.  His piece, measuring over one hundred horizontal inches, consists of three canvases of equal size, precisely spaced, and arranged in a descending arc.

The viewer is likely to question whether this is a landscape and feel, vaguely at first, that something is moving and then feel that he is moving.  He will go back and forth between the disorienting, sinking feeling and the assurance of the horizon line.  Creating this effect is a major accomplishment.  The photo at the top of this text does not do justice to the work because of the studio clutter around it.  This highly original triptych by Peter Brinckerhoff deserves to be shown on a white gallery wall all by itself.  It requires space and time for contemplation.  John Baldessari and fans of conceptual art would like this, I think.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Baldessari

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The filmmaker Raúl Ruiz says that in telling a story, the story doesn’t come first.  Nor the concept.  What comes first is an image and then another image and another and out of these images a narrative emerges.  He adds that this is not a principle for everyone but this is his working theory.  (If you haven’t seen any of Ruiz’s films, you may want to start with Klimt, 2006.)

The English philosopher Roger Scruton, whose conservatism is as unappealing to me as his name, has a worthwhile insight into the process of art making:  “Expression is not so much a matter of finding the symbol for a subjective feeling, as of coming to know, through the act of expression, just what the feeling is.  Expression is part of the realization of the inner life, the making intelligible what is otherwise ineffable and confused.  An artist who could already identify the feeling which he sought to express might indeed approach his work in the spirit of a craftsman, applying some body of techniques which tell him what he must do to express that particular feeling.  But then he would not need those techniques, for if he can identify the feeling it is because he has already expressed it. Expression is not, therefore, an activity whose goal can be defined prior to its achievement. “  (The Aesthetics of Architecture, p.7)

Above, a large painting in progress in my Impressions of Landscape class, by Peter H.

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

www.khilden.com

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