Friday, December 19, 2008

the muck

I've always been struck by the muck of the Auerbach studio. The horror of ever advancing paint droppings and dust. When you look at his process you see the endeavor of persistence and the growing density of failure. The record lays bare the accumulation of the years marking, scraping, poking, smudging, groping through the gray light where the act never changes. It's good to see examples of this kind of activity as a reminder to guard against the external pressures of an accelerated world of information. Such work addresses physical reality, the tension between process and intention.

Increasingly I'm experiencing a need for painters who have a permanent sense of the tangible. Making work that doesn't simply mirror our times or arranging signs/symbols but making work that is an independent entity in itself. Works that grow through a process which are still vitally indebted to their sources, but ultimately veer towards an independence from those sources. A separate existence from the artist - palpable, fully intact and ready to demand a response by the very nature of that existence.

image: Frank Auerbach studio circa 1984.


CAP said...

Then again, for the flipside check out de Kooning's studio and work practices.

Does the muck really influence the work?

I say the difference is as much down to DeK's trade background as a sign writer. Having worked for several years myself in a sign shop (without being a signwriter exactly) one of the things that always impressed me was the strict organisation and method to painting all manner of jobs.

It's not just a question of speed and economy. When you organise your work-space properly it's that much easier to move around in, find things and try things.

I remember reading much the same things from Rosenquist, less surprisingly, although it turns out JR was also a huge fan of DeK. Infact a lot of the 50s painters admired DeK for his order and discipline.

I also admire Bacon for his more chaotic approach to studio practice, although I suspect a lot of that was his theatrical taste for an arty ambience.

In my own practice, working on very large works, commercial and fine art, I've found, like DeK, that it pays to be organised, to be clean - even when the work will be about 'messy'.

highlowbetween said...

You're speaking to someone who more or less has to clean his studio almost daily :) Some of that is the lack of size, some of it my own neurotic need for order, so I hear you loud and clear. Nothing wreaks my mind more than an unintended breach from one work to another. If wet paint gets on something finished it can cause a serious meltdown! There is also a need to guard against "overcrowding" as well that seems to help me keep perspective from work to the next.

I have been genuinely fascinated though by the Auerbach and Bacon studios for years. But with Auerbach the messy seems more macabre and I am amazed and drawn to it. It's almost a separate body of work in and of itself.