Guston on Painting

art

A few years ago a friend mentioned the artist Philip Guston.  Go check out his images on google.  I personally like his black and white line drawings or markings like this one.

Philip Guston - 1966 Faith hope and impossibility

Philip Guston – 1966 Faith hope and impossibility

But lets not talk about like or not like. I read a book of his collected writings and interviews about art. What is art these days? Who is entitled to make art? Why make a painting?  I was drawn to a few of Guston’s ideas (and then of course rejected others).

  1. The plane – the plane is not the plane of the canvas but the imaginary plane. This is where you create an illusion. You put two lines together or two colors, and something happens. It is like alchemy (my analogy not his).  I love this idea that the plane of the canvas is the imaginary plane, or maybe like Jung, the imaginal plane… the starting off point for active imagining.
  2. The first civilized man – or the first civilized man in eden. This is related to the idea in the image at the top of this blog post. That the artist is at the vanguard. Art is tied with a transformation of consciousness, or spirit.  The artist is the next step in the evolution, she is creating the next ‘reality’ or maybe we should call it the environment or milieu. I used to think that the artist was creating a new way of perceiving the world. But this is reductive. In the above quotation, the artist is re-enchanting the world. The artist is worlding within the world. Not creating an adjacent world but rebirthing the world.  (Also what would it be like to be the first painter, how do you paint without knowing what a painting is, what is painting from first principles).
  3. Diagram vs life- Lets move beyond a diagram (representation) to something that is vitally alive – that has its own life.
  4. I disagree with the critique of Duchamp and Cage. These figures to me are the star children of art. What is the artist when she moves beyond mediums or through mediums? This is the digitization of everything that brings in the recombination or fluidity of representation. Otherwise we fetishize a particular medium, becoming locked in it rather than transforming ourselves. (Again this leads to Guston’s meditation on Kafka and superconsciousness, the ability for the eye to see itself, for consciousness to observe itself. How can painting paint itself? How can art art itself?

I have been painting this winter at the art students league. I general procedure is that I sketch the sitter, sometimes with charcoal, sometimes with a blue acrylic wash. Then I will over draw a diagram, or glyph or sigil. Finally I will color in with solid (or as solid as I can get) colors. I have stuck with monochrome or one color in some instances. I try not to think, I try to surprise myself with my paintings,  They are not precious. I paint them on newsprint with cheap student acrylic and sometimes the paintings stick together if I am hasty and they have not finished drying.  Am I getting beyond myself? Am I super conscious? Am I creating something that is alive? Am I creating something that is between human and divine, beyond both or a child of both?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.