MM I was looking at Gorky's late work and thought of
the importance of symbol
and how he got this from the surrealists, Andre Breton... Miro.
I thought how we
as Americans, you influenced by Smith and me by Held, are more
paint and if there are symbols they aren't all that obvious and
transcendent. What was this symbolism about where did it come
from? Late 19th
c was pretty materialistic with realists, impressionists; the
first half of
the 19th c was political: Delacroix, David, Courbet. I was thinking
that I am
interested in painting as language... nouns, verbs, objects,
phrases, sentences, and
if there is going to be any meaning it will be in the emotional
of the paint. But I can't conjure up any symbols. Forms with
heavy meanings I
can convey, yearning, desire, will ,all sorts of primary processes.
strong ideational forms. I like where I'm at. But every once
in a while it
hits me what I am not.
experience with symbols has been as abstract shapes that act
in a certain
way, but are free from the prejudice of "symbolism,"
at least in my own mind.
The shape has been something like a lighthouse in the fog, something
me, something to go to, something which will help me when I find
it. It is not
something prescribed for me at all. If it was I couldn't bother.
Once I get
there I don't stay, it's on we go. Instead I find that this shape
lens through which my inquiry takes place. The paint is the process.
stripe/band paintings I am doing right now. They are not something
rationalize to keep them around. They kept coming up in the work,
you don't know but you keep bumping into: you're getting a message
there is a reason for this. One day I gave way to the stripes
and there was a
big yes in me. At last, I had listened. This was some place I
needed to go,
regardless of whether anyone else liked them. I've been learning
a lot from
these paintings, not just about myself, but other things as well.
about the way things are, the way we want them to be, and what
between. If you go back twenty years in my work this business
of the in between
has been there.
symbols for the sake of meaning are naturally meaningless. If
have appropriated a symbol it was either as a question or a gesture
The cross for example. I wanted to see what it would mean for
me. I found out
it had meaning, although not the one people normally take. For
me the cross
became that thing in between again. In between crucifixion and
arms outstretched, open and alive. For some reason I always see
the cross as
Christ alive on the cross, not dead. Dead it has no meaning.
Alive it is the
choice we make and accepting the consequences; living with them.
The cross is
very much alive and a part of the stripes. It is a personal affirmation:
martyrdom. Choices. He didn't cry about it; he knew it was part
of his choice.
When I stop
learning from these stripes I will move on. Something else will
call me, catch my eye. This is the balance between the "paint"
"meaning." The poetry of abstraction.