PAINTING 2: Mixed MediaMIXED MEDIA
Part I TACTILE AND MULTIPLE SURFACES
Project: Physical Texture of Paint - Research
Rather than compare just two artists I wanted to explore those artist whom I have been inspired by because of their ‘voluptuous’ and dynamic use of paint.
I am effectively following a route from Van Gogh whose work, though not appreciated at the time, caused artists to realize the potential of the painting media in ways that had never been anticipated before. Van Gogh, using brushes of various sizes - usually larger coarser hogss hair brushes, invented a world that explored the sensuous charm of nature. His brush strokes gave life to what he painted through texture. The thickness of the paint enabled him to express his emotional feel for the object before him. His series of sunflowers, the over exposure of which has caused the image to become somewhat hackneyed, use a variety of mark making to convey the petals, leaves and central seed head. His style did not only apply to objects he was able to give movement to the skies he produced, particularly with his Starry Night:
“The meaning lies inside the paint” is what Van Gogh said of his work, it wasn’t just the meaning is was the quality of the brush strokes which helped to determine the value of his work.
Van Gogh therefore uses texture to reinforce his emotional reaction to the natural world. Interestingly he is a precursor to many styles, pointillism, abstraction, futurism.
Another artist whose work incorporates texture in a similar way is indeed the Futurist Umberto Boccioni. He effectively follows on from Van Gogh’s idea of using sweeping and swirling strokes to indicate movement, speed and also chaos and noise. Boccioni is quoted as saying, similar to Van Gogh, “…to let the viewer live in the midst of the picture…” is what he wanted to achieve.
Both artists used traditional canvas boards but hogshair larger brushes, were probably included in their equipment.
Whereas Van Gogh was exploring the natural world, Boccioni, who had been influenced by Munch, as well as Cubmism and Expressionism was using texture as a dynamic tool to establish a concept, the concept of movement and speed. He was particularly interested in the movement of the horse, it is therefore ironic that he fell from his horse and subsequently died at only 33 years of age, Another of those artists of whom we say, I wonder what else he would have produced had he lived.
Moving into the 20th Century the next artist I want to include is Jackson Pollock. He is renowned for his drip paintings but before that he explored mystical works, sometimes influenced by Indian culture. His use of tools and materials broadened the approach of artists to the availability of items which might be used in the production of works of art: house enamel, syringes, sticks, house paint brushes, palette knife and so on. He used large canvases on the floor for his drip paintings but otherwise used conventional stretchers.
For Pollock the expression of mystical and psychological ideas were partly achieved by his use of paint which was tactile by way of an extension of himself. He too, talked about wanting to actually be ‘ in the painting’
We can give these movements whatever titles we like Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism, Futurism, but I think with all three of these artists they are trying to bring something out of themselves and into the canvas they work on, the paint acts as an extension from themselves, a conduit if you like from the idea in their minds to the support, it is almost as though their very blood issues from their fingertips in the form of paint to produce the creative energy and dynamism they so want to achieve.
Moving on to contemporary artists, I want to include Gerhard Richter
One cannot but be impressed by the work of Richter, particularly his abstract paintings which use texture in an unusual way. Effectively as an overpainting technique on large scale canvases using rollers, scrapers, trowels, brushes, palette knives and various other tools to produce these fascinating works. He uses paint almost in an automatist way to convey images which project the internal, unpredetermined ideas which develop to a point which satisfies the artist, and fulfils some potential reality. “Art is the highest form of hope” Richter says. As a concept it is difficult to understand Richter’s rationale, suffice to say there are many different realities some of which we cannot know and I think Richter is attempting to materialize or hint at unknown potential realities, transcendentallly in the same way that Pollock was exploring those ideas, but with his feet on the ground. Richter seems to want to reach out beyond knowledge to the realities that may or may not exist and which are intrinsically within his work, as he says “the secret is in the painting”, and it is realized through the painting method.
One of Richter’s pupils, Pia Fries is my next choice. An emerging artist of the 21st century, Fries negates the idea of painting being dead and interred during the 1960s and 1970s by Conceptual, Performance, Installation arts. Artists like Fries have invalidated this idea. Painting on a wooden board with multi layers of primer Fries paints with palette knives, spatulas, syringes, industrial instruments and application objects she makes herself. Much of the pristine white of the canvas is left, sometimes she silkscreens images on to the canvas then overpaints them with textures which form abstract piles of paint twisting, interweaving smudging and folding one colour into another almost like ethnic jewellery. Her work is said to explore the musical harmonies of musique concrete. It will be interesting to see her work develop.
Futurism - Sylvia Martin, published by Tasken 2006, Modern Art, David Britt published by Thames & Hudson 1974, Van Gogh by Brian Petrie, published by Phaidon Press 1974, Wickipedia, Vitamin P, Phaidon Press 2002, Gerhard Richter Large Abstracts by Ulrich Wilmes, Hatie Cantz 2008