Cloistertime

I’ve been spending much of this year sequestered in my studio , focusing upon work at hand and engaging with the actual world far less . My desire to work has compromised my ability to attend openings, pay studio visits , basic human time . I have ambivalent regret about that , but the time spent at the cloister of my making is so fleeting , my life so short that I feel compelled.

Although I spend less and less actual time with friends , many talented and exciting artists, company I treasure, I do stay engaged, at least superficially. Social media keeps me in the proverbial loop , for that I am grateful .

Work in progress : The Herakles Tapestry

And through social media I am offered moments of reflection . I recently saw a post from an artist I admire very much , this post was hash tagged with “#f@ckoverthinking” ( without my censor ; it increasingly seems the “f” word is the go-to descriptor for almost anything : “f-ing brilliant “, “f-ing amazing “, etc. ).

This admonition to not overthink one’s process and by extension work , inspired thinking about my own process and the work itself . The taste for seemingly spontaneous, emotive work , where the process is an existential eruption feeds a narrative very much in fashion . Hollywood for decades has promoted the mythology of a feverish genius , blind with passion , communicating madly with their unrelenting muse ( the new film concerning Picasso has a cover image that depicts this archetype very well – handsome , paint-bespecked , exhausted ).

I confess my studio time has never been a cardio workout . In fact , contrary to my friends admonition to “f” overthinking, I think a great deal. I think, I write , I connect the dots . And while my work isn’t aesthetically feverish , it is dense with layers , perhaps too many for some, I do not know. But it is the work I find interesting , the work I want to look at and the work I want to bring into the world .

I’ve never been interested in work that doesn’t call me back for another visit . Work that makes too direct a point . The works I most admire puzzle me , tease me with elusive symbols , require my attention  and my engagement. Directness is not my nature , not in life , or conversation, or even in my writing ; I am furtive , and in my studio work I would rather slip in a sly informed allegory than confront an issue directly . A flourish of meaning easily overlooked.

But I do think my approach is at odds with contemporary expectations of what art (or being) is or should be ( my calling my work “art” is an indulgence I allow myself when speaking of it , generally I refer to it as “stuff I make ” ). Street art has in a great way set this expectation : deft, ecstatic , exuberant, and most importantly, accessible. Marx would have been pleased.

My own work tends to be more obscure, more measured , the process at times almost plodding , but a joyous plodding , because the dedication to minute brushstrokes, to innumerable pencil markings or whip stitches is not unlike a prayer .

I had a wise teacher , a Russian iconographer , who insisted that every brush stroke when painting (an icon) is a prayer of gratitude. This deliberate , exacting mindfulness, the antipodes to “overthinking” , is what I seek in my cloister .

Which is where I will spend my day . Have a great one .

(I am inspired by medieval illumination, , the measured , concise focus upon marginalia . This ornamental border , my take on Marginalia, is on a much larger scale , but when finished will, I hope, convey the same spirit . I’m looking to go larger and also to employ fiber art.)

Validation

After a dreary period of seemingly endless rejection letters from galleries and exhibitors, it is validating to have had the last few submissions accepted. Yesterday I received word that the Brand Library , for their annual Works on Paper exhibition (this is their 43rd year ) had accepted my Temptation of Saint Anthony in the Desert. It was particularly thrilling to read:

“Juror Kent Twitchell reviewed 890 submitted works, of which 70 were selected for the exhibition”.

Kent Twitchell is an icon here (and elsewhere)  known for his  photo-realistic monumental murals; I admire him a great deal, hence the validation. Funny things is he paints such spectacularly colossal, hyper realistic works and chose my teeny bit of fantasy. Catholic tastes I guess .

Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert, 2015, acrylic on Yupo paper, 11 by 14"
Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert, 2015, acrylic on Yupo paper, 11 by 14″

I have the happy task of framing this little painting, a pleasant break from the mad dash of setting up a new home, packing up an old, securing a new studio (about to sign the lease), and perhaps buying a car(YIKES), THEN fly out to Philadelphia for the six week critique course. I’m spinning about in space.

I think for the program at PAFA I am going to translate this drawing The Goblin Market into a much larger painting, size to be determined- essentially as big as I can ship back.

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The Goblin Market

When I arrive in Philadelphia, after a red eye flight, I am pretty much just jumping the deep end at PAFA  on Monday the 6th. I will post regularly from my phone.

To be continued…LG

 

A Valentine for David

I won’t see David until quite late, after St.Valentine’s Day, so I  thought I would post this online so he would  receive it on the train ride down from LA.

Happy Valentines Day bubala.IMG_3733

This drawing is part of my ongoing infatuation with Achilles and Patroclus, something I share with David.

My inspiration for this sketch is a wall fragment from Pompeii, that of Mars and Venus. As a young boy I felt it to be the sexiest image imaginable; now at midlife I have refashioned the image in a bit of homo-revisionism. I still find the hand gesture of Venus(Patroclus) to be deeply touching and tender.

ares:aphrodite:pompeii,napoli museo archeologico copy

Just one final image, a very contemporary Achilles and Patroclus, again very tender and sweet.

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Wishing all, but most especially David, a very happy  St.Valentine’s Day.

LG

From today’s sketchbook :Fallen Patroclus

Actually yesterday’s, but I was too groggy to post. Working on other drawings today. This Patroclus is just a result of my continuing fascination with the heroic (and doomed ) archetype.

Once again my handy-dandy maquette came in handy-thank you Clive!

IMG_3640Fallen Patroclus

charcoal on colored paper

18 by 24 inches

Take care and be well,

LG

From today’s notebook: The Shades of Achilles and Patroclus

I recently finished Madeline Miller’s very excellent The Song of Achilles, Clive Hicks-Jenkins had suggested I read it, so I was quick to order a copy for myself.  I had heard of the novel, I had read a scathing review of it in the New York Times and foolishly I held back from reading it.  The reviewer, Daniel Mendelsohn , was ruthless (from my persective) in his criticism of the novel.  Most of his harsh judgment seemed aimed at the unabashedly romantic depiction of Achilles and Patroclus, comparing it to Dawson’s Creek – about as a cruel a comparison I can think of.

Mendelsohn takes Miller to task  for stating the obvious (to him at least) – the romantic nature of their relationship .

The truth is their relationship while implied,  is not a given fact to the population at large as Mendelsohn asserts. There is a sacredness to their narrative,  a romance held dear by a great many gay folks through time, that was secret and coded.  It is no small matter that Alexander and Hephaestion made a pilgrimage to their tomb. If Miller’s prose  was too purple for Mendelsohn then frankly that  is too bad; I for one relished the evocative images she created.  It is high time for some frank, direct depictions of gay love, culturally  we have settled for the implied. Miller gave us a sweeping romance, I thank Miller for that, florid or not.  In response I created an equally purple image of the two re-united for eternity in the Underworld.

Mendelsohn and his ilk will just hate it.

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The Shades of Achilles and Patroclus

graphite, watercolor,pastel on paper

Take care, be well,

LG