Deborah Barkun

Bridget Costello

Elizabeth Damore

Andrea DeGiorgi

Molly Finnigan

Zlatan Gruborovic

Mariana Martin

Michael J. McClure

Sara Morasch


Jeanne-Marie Musto

Daria Ovide

Abigail Perkiss


Kim Peters

Lauren Rosenblum

Debbie Wang

 
Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramped into a Planisphere.
—Andrew Marvell, from "The Definition of Love"


It seems that Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Ryman, Jasper Johns, and Cy Twombly, all nearly perfect contemporaries, made their strongest artistic statements in the sixties and seventies. In these decades they seemed to at once continue and profoundly misread the gestures of Jackson Pollack and Franz Kline (say) and to employ to excess the liquid and staining layers of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko (for another example). It is their excessive, troubled surfaces that I seek to research and explore.


One can describe these surfaces as radical build-up: waxy, caked with varying layerings of paint, globbed on or dripped on, in dimension, down the surface. In Twombly, Johns, and Rauschenberg, canvases are further littered with words, symbol, and notation. The latter two artists project furthest—their canvases are often hung with ornaments, lit up, spliced into and cantilevered off of. In Ryman, the mechanics of the painting itself are turned inside out, and we often see, "coming toward us," that which was inside, part of the hanging apparatus. And, yet, too, there is, almost always, across these works, a great deal of bare canvas. (Although I should acknowledge canvas isn’t always the material for the painted plane.) In fact, it might be these bare patches which, by contrast, highlights those "moments" where the paint literally projects.

The interpretative questions that this work engenders center, for me, around what these layered, projecting, slowed down, built-up, yet, simultaneously bare and exiguous surfaces can signify.

Beyond the obvious (and perhaps weary-making) questions of queerness and gender, what is it about the gummed up painting plane that can be called an expression; specifically, what part of the gelid, dried liquid of paint is theoretically linked to an idea of subversion and protest? And, moreover, where does projection become a site of difference? Does dried paint metaphorically "equal" dried blood, womb issue, and the watery-yet-solid inner workings of a human? And what about dimension itself: do these paintings evince an interlocution between a wholly dimensional, enveloping space and the flat, inevitably planispherical property of a painted surface?

I want to focus these questions of material and projection through the work of Georges Bataille, Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixcous and their varying ideas of an un-enunciated, corrosive, & abject substance. There is also some work to be done with signification: for instance the difference between paint as a signifier and paint that depicts other systems of signification (such as language, figures, and symbol).

Finally, there are (at least) two moments of execution here. The first is the moment that the painting was being painted, but was still unfinished. In these moments the work was neither dry nor formally determined, its definition was fluid. Those moments are truly corporeal and expressive, the "abject" substance can be literally touched and formed by the painting body. However, a viewing moment is different—the form has been set, the painting is determined, unless the painting "itself," formally, keeps its viewer somehow ensnared. It is that optical (psychological?) possibility, which we can call the possibility to re-view, which might be paramount to the exploration of these simultaneously not quite atmospheric nor absolutely flat paintings.



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