EOS Aug 08 352

untitled, 11 March, 2000, acrylic on paper, 38″ x 50″

This is my first blog post on my first blog, and I have to say, Seth Godin is right: It’s scary to just get out there. I’ve had gallery shows and published in magazines, but this makes me realize that in those circumstances there were other people who gave permission, other people to share the opprobrium. Having decided to actually move forward, I had to choose something for my first post. My initial thought was something about Susan Sontag, Rosalind Krauss and Agnes Martin but that will come later. I have decided to start with this painting, I suppose mostly because that would make this post about me and this is, after all, my blog.

It’s been almost thirteen years since I made this painting, and my assessment of it has vacillated over all that time. I’ve made things that I love unconditionally without wavering, and I’ve made things that I despise. It was a liberating moment when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to keep failed works around polluting my studio. If they can’t be fixed, destroy them and throw them away. But I’ve never decided whether this planet painting succeeds or fails, but what I wrote in pencil at the bottom is kind of interesting:

“There is a way of painting that is conceptual. I have decided that painting is tedious, or to be more precise, I have discovered that the paintings I find tedious are the same ones that I now recognize as conceptual. By conceptual painting I mean a) painting that isn’t motivated by painting; b) painting that presents itself as painting instead of just being painting; and c) painting that has content more alienated than even traditional subject matter. In other words, painting that presents itself as painting about something so that it can be about something else entirely. People trying to be that smart are just plain tedious. Prefixes such as meta and post are often used to talk about conceptual painting as if it were an epiphany”.

I still agree with all that. Point a) stands – interesting painters love paint, they love working with it and they love looking at it. Points b) and c) I now see as a single point and I don’t have a problem with them either. Damien Hirst’s spot paintings are a perfect example of painting that presents itself as painting instead of just being painting, or in other words has very alienated subject matter. His work doesn’t seem to be terribly engaged with any of its precursors – dots or spots from Seurat to Robert Fones. Hirst seems to be doing a Warhol on painting – repetition as a kind of disrespect. Hirst exhibits paintings as the product of his being an artist, not as an artist who paints. Not interesting.

At any rate, my painting seems to be a cartoon version of a Hans Hofmann. That’s just me engaging with my tradition