Today I am looking at my art.


First draft - Saturday, November 29, 2003
Updated Sunday, November 30, 2003
Updated Thursday, January 15, 2004

Today (actually this weekend) I have been adding artists to my NETART2 directory…. mostly looking at (and about) artists (sculptors and painters) involved in the minimalist persuasion. I am continuing my research into the current nagging interest to simplify my image structure…. more or less… to move away from the gesture oriented 2002 painting [even though the image structure for most of 2002 didn't focus on the gesture????]. [For that matter, most of my work uses gesture as point/counterpoint -- an accent] Hmmmm? Does line = gesture? Or does line = line? What is gesture? Have I lost sight of the meaning of this term? Judging from the two definitions I have selected below, I believe gesture turns out to be an abstraction (leaving out detail). It can be part of the making process. Actually gesture has nothing to do with line specifically. Line, in a gesture sense, is part of the making process if an artist chooses to use line to make a composition. Lack of linear structure can also create a gesture. Rothko used color areas as gesture to create his compositions. In the end, for me, gesture is a confusing term.
Quick definitions (gesture)
noun: motion of hands or body to emphasize or help to express a thought or feeling
noun: something done as an indication of intention (Example: "A political gesture")
noun: the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals
verb: show, express or direct through movement (Example: "He gestured his desire to leave")
gesture drawing -The act of making a sketch with relatively loose arm movements (gestures) -- with the large muscles of the arm, rather than with the small muscles of the hand and wrist of the artist. Or a drawing made this way. Gesture drawing is both widely considered an important exercise in art education, and a common practise artists use in "warming up" at the start of any new work. A gesture drawing is typically the first sort of drawing done to begin a more finished drawing or painting. It is used to block in the layout of the largest shapes in a composition. There are compelling reasons too for artists to make gesture drawings simply for the sake of making them. The act of gesture drawing trains the simultaneous workings of the eyes, the brain, and the hand, especially in the act of drawing from life -- from direct observation of a subject. Intensifying this learning experience is the practise of gesture drawing at great speeds -- drawings made in as long as five minutes, and as short as a few seconds. Gesture drawing is likely to increase awareness of underlying structures, both in the subject of the work and in the work itself. The subject of a gesture drawing can be any at all, although the artists who made each of the following examples chose to make life drawings -- of human models.

Anyway, I have looked at Hans Breder (why, I don't know…. just curious) and the references from the Breder search to Ana Mendieta (very strange erotic narrative body art sort of stuff - very hermetic (to me)) [maybe minimalized to "0"?????] Also looking at reference that Mendieta had married Carl Andre (minimalist sculptor - copper plates on floor????) and that he was accused of pushing her out their 34th floor apt window to her death in 1985 (he was acquitted of murder in 1988). So I decided to give studying Carl Andre a serious mind on the problem/s of minimalism and its art politic. Eh! Its Ok?!?!? Sometimes I don't connect to the nothingness of its premise. What-You-See-is-What-You-Get Duchampian rhetoric (this weekend seems very weak to me as a premise to make art). When all is said and done, and everything is stripped away, nothing is still nothing. All of this minimalism stuff seems very angry too. More angry in many ways than the so called anger related to AE (that I have been accused of engaging in from time to time over the years…. oftened call ROBUST art that is VERY COLORFULL). For me Minimalism is reactionary. It is political at its base. It seems to be a reaction (against) the press and success (you define success here) of AE… maybe its [AE] humanity. So the action of minimalism was to move in the opposite direction of AE… to remove everything from a painting that has been traditional to painting for the last three centuries.

I don't think that AE removed anything from painting. It placed the maker at the center of the operation and also placed the viewer at the center of the esthetic experience. At least for me, there is something very human about AE that is lacking in Minimalist doctrinaire art - which to me is cold, inhuman, electronic and mechanical. Statements made by minimalist practitioners, both in the work itself and verbal uttering, reflect this positon. This preciseness and mechanization bothers me. I like some of it. However, I am troubled that minimalist simplicity doesn't speak to anything within me except to an intellectual association. It seems to leave human resources and soul out of the equation. To the minimalists, all practice of painting before them is dead. Hmmmmmm! Very Duchampian? During 1965, 66 and 67 - Hans Breder kept screaming at me that PAINTING IS DEAD! We didn't really see eye-to-eye [ I-to-I ]

I decided today that NETART2 directory on my computer hard drive needed an update. I looked down the artist's list and started with an update to Antoni Tapies. Wow! I found a bunch of stuff to update here. As I added new images to the Tapies directory, I re-discovered how I respond to Tapies' art --from the gut; receiving a joyful feeling like listening to music. I didn't need any outside directives to engage in these images. My mind could wander, create feelings, build ideas/visions, and roam wherever it wanted. Looking at Andre's work… my mind didn't go very far before I ran out of real estate. I grew jaded with what was in front of me. Andre and the minimalists fit the "soundbite" mentality of today (that was new in the 60's!). There seems to be nothing there for a long term engagement in the esthetic experience, or of self. Minimalist work does not succeed at being a mirror. It does not speak to me about a human condition. It is just there. It is. It is elevator music. This is the program. This is what these artists want/ed to accomplish -- make an art that has the same properties as a rock. I prefer the rock.

I also updated Motherwell, Frankenthaller, Miro, Gerhard Richter and found a new painter Jonna Brinkman from Wisconsin on the internet; just go to the google search engine - cut-n-paste the artist's name to see images. Looking at the work of these artists excited me more than looking at the minimalists? Looking at Zen and/or Ch'an art --even though on the surface this art too is minimal in appearance at times (sometimes to the point of being invisible)-- Zen and Ch'an philosophy and art was not invented from a nihilist position (one of destruction and removal). I will not piece together (here at this time) a digest on the virtues of Zen and non-Zen oppositions in thought and life. This is far to complex an issue. Without further detail, I think you get the drift with my pointers to Minimalism vs Zen imaging. One is spiritual and human and the other is not.

Now? Is exploring minimalism where I want to work for the next few months? Do I really want to give up what I have been developing? What have I been developing? Is there another way to reduce/simply my image? Do I want to simplify? Interesting questions. Continuing. I think the operative question is-- Why do I want to include minimalism in my work? Is this necessary for my work to progress? Is this interest an infatuation? Am I looking at the wrong model by studying minimalism? Should I continue to visit Zen and Ch'an reductivism and apply these conventions instead? My god! I have been at this mental game for over a year now!!?? I need to get back to work! But I also need to keep asking the damn questions??..!! How schizophrenic this all is. This is the excitement. This is the magic of art. This is what makes me want to be a plumber. No offense to plumbers intended.

David Novak January 15, 2004
Matthews, NC