THE SHORT TAKE: The twenty-one double-sided WORLD AS COLLAGE pieces made in March of 2022 were packed up and taken to Budapest that following September, to be both the basis of further unrealized work and part of a new exhibition at the FERENCVÁROS HISTORICAL MUSEUM in the 9th District of Budapest. Invited to a solo residency there, I would work in the same large hall of the Museum which would house the exhibit. Submerged in work during an intense, productive three weeks, seventeen double-sided acrylic, mixed-media paintings emerged.
A new series presents itself. These EXTRAPOLATIONS represent an act – the continued pursuit of a thread and a concept. Something about one resolved group of work suggests a next step; forms demand further investigation; variants of structure, color, medium, or scale ensue. Why not stay with these elements, digging deeper rather than moving on? After all, isn’t one subject as good as another for this act of visual anaylsis? (Continued in THE LONG READ below images)
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So why abandon these forms when they are still suggestive and stimulating, when they still beg questions? Why not take a next step rather than starting anew and reinventing the wheel? Is this way of working out of the ordinary? After all, following creative threads is the essence of any real artistic work, yet often a different paradigm takes precedence: making art instead of focusing on the act of artistic discovery. Rather than getting too didactic, here’s where my work has taken me over the past eleven months.
The twenty-one double-sided WORLD AS COLLAGE pieces made in March of 2022 were packed up and taken to Budapest that following September, to be both the basis of further unrealized work and part of a new exhibition at the FERENCVÁROS HISTORICAL MUSEUM in the 9th District of Budapest. Invited to a solo residency there, I would work in the same large hall of the Museum which would house the exhibit.
After getting my bearings, a set of tracings was made of each collage, recto and verso sides. Next, tracings and collage pieces were laid out on the long work tables, and as if by their own design, they grouped or propelled themselves into figural assemblages, each collage pairing up with its corresponding tracings – all temporarily fixed in place with tiny slivers of masking tape. After documenting these temporary assemblages photographically, the new full forms were then traced onto long thin papers.
Next began the preparation of the painting surfaces; first gluing and taping together three raw sheets of thin, cotton paper, then repeatedly priming these joined, longer pieces with acrylic gesso on both sides.
The initial impulse had been to work spontaneously from the collage pieces in some undefined medium, but after searching for that first hook, what asserted itself was anything but spontaneous! The emergent working process quickly developed rhythm and structure. It was both swift yet time-consuming, as I moved back and forth between steps; preparing paper, tracing, and transferring the drawings. Each full tracing was transferred by re-drawing the lines on the flip side of the thin paper, pressing the graphite into the prepared gessoed pages.
A word about the hand-drawn tracing process – it was both meditative and transcendent yet mindless, even tedious; I experienced a heightened perceptivity but also an increased sense of impatience to the realization of the work in paint.
The last stage to be folded into the process was the painting of the seventeen double-sided pieces. A bit of additional conceptual structure asserted itself as part of the game; the recto side of the painting came from the corresponding recto side of the tracing, while the painted verso utilized the tracing’s flipped side. One painted side had the form painted as a darker value and the surrounding space lighter, while the value relationship between form and space on the flip side was reversed. This consistency conveys an almost poetic sense of rhythm, harmony and balance.
The painting process itself was similar to what I’d been doing for some time – utilizing a very thin application of acrylic on wetted paper, using brushes, rags, pressure on both sides. The painting went rapidly, much more so than creating the skeleton of each piece – a familiar rhythm to that as well.
And so it went. Sixteen pieces done for the exhibition space, one more given in thanks to Sinkó Istvan, president of the Association of Hungarian Painters, in return for his excellent comments presented at the exhibition opening. The sixteen paintings are now in the permanent collection of the Museum, while the seventeenth hangs on Sinkó Istvan’s wall.