21 July 2019

Rothko and me


Several people have recently remarked that my pictures resemble those of Mark Rothko. I was a bit surprised as he has never figured into my educational sensibilities. So I went to look at his work on Google. Of course, I was familiar with some of work over so many visits to museums around the world but I have never been so attracted to it. Online however, I found several images which I liked very much, but maybe that is because they felt to me like landscapes with a discernible horizon. These pictures of mine were made from a motif in front of Nature. I believe that Rothko’s were done in a studio in New York. So, I am now interested in what he was thinking about, what moved him; what inspired him to paint his pictures? I ordered this book with a sexy cover (below), in hopes that it will answer some of these questions. All I know about this poor guy is that he killed himself. Most original artists are to a great degree un-conformist, and sometimes just plain weird. I know, because I have been told the latter about myself. More to be revealed.

18 July 2019

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 17 July, 2019

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 17 July, 2019, oil on canvas board, 30 X 40

After two years of working from this twilight motif I begin to know it, feel it, and worship it. It is is not curse like Ahab's pursuit for his white whale, but a kind of divine, benign, and sensual puzzle. It beckons me further and further into its secret labyrinth  of misty colours each night. Will I ever arrive? Certainly not, but I am getting closer, somewhere.

I often wonder to myself that I just might be the wealthiest soul on earth. For each night, as I set up a palette to work, I am given another chance to paint this gift, this perfect horizon which has been offered up to everyone on the beach here. But I, like Prometheus, get to steal it from the Gods each night. 

17 July 2019

Truth in Nature

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 27 May, 2019, oil on canvas board, 30 X 40 cm

"Truth is in Nature, and I shall prove it."
Paul Cézanne 

16 July 2019

Morrandi defies chaos

In this time of worldly angst it is reassuring to me that Giorgio Morrandi painted this picture in 1942 in his home town of Bologna Italy.

19 December 2017

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 15 December 2017

Continuing these small studies from a little rise in the dunes most nights brings one the a great sense of pleasure. Even if the entire day has felt wasted, or irrelevant, by making a small painting gives me satisfaction. 

30 November 2017

Evening Prayer, 24 November 2017

After a long hiatus, I am back to working from the motif most nights. As what Walter Pater sought in Art; experiences of brilliant intensity that promise "nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments' sake"*

Whether one is painting (or taking in a picture), it is thus.

So, an otherwise banal horizon is at the mercy of how the sun and the clouds dance over the sea. These are prayers and small meditations at twilight.

*Taken from that great book by Stanley Fish entitled How to Write a Sentence.

Evening Prayer, Brunswick Heads, 24 November 2017, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

06 May 2017

Richard Tuttle revisited

I confess that when I first encountered the work of Richard Tuttle I was aghast. And even the second time I encountered it in New York at the Whitney sometime in the 90's I was even more aghast. It went against everything I thought I understood about Art up until then. 

A few years later however, after a subtle immersion into the ideas surrounding Art and Nature in Japanese thinking, I awakened to the beauty of expressed minimalism, if I can call it that. Then I came across Richard Tuttle's work again, and I kind of fell in love for the first time. 

Looking backward barely 40 years it is hard to imagine that his works could have provoked such an outrage, but then his influence was a tsunami of sorts for young art students everywhere. In fact, I cannot think of an artist who has been such a driving force of influence in art schools, and in academic thinking generally than Tuttle. He has merged the Personal with the Academic, and not always for the better I think.

It is a minimalism which made meaty and materialistic America uncomfortable.  

30 March 2017

dusk at sea

This was done last week, very small at 25 X 25 cm. It is just a study of the mind, an excuse to mix the delicate colours of twilight when everything goes to the grey tones.
I read recently that painting could be really 'important' (meaning, I suppose of a political or socio-ethnic kind of statement)
Or, it it was referred to as a 'pastime' which was pejorative. I rather liked it; Pastime, even better, maybe; Past times in painting.
It is after all a kind of meditation one can make before Nature. 

24 March 2017

Twilight series at the beach in Australia.

What can seem like a banal beach scene often turns into something magical just after the sun sets behind me. These are studies of just the sea and sky. Whatever happens, in any weather I try to interrupt it with paint.

22 March 2017

a sad day for artistic and intellectual freedom....

White Artist’s Painting of Emmett Till at Whitney Biennial Draws Protests

Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket,” a 2016 painting in the Whitney Biennial. Collection of the artist 
The open-coffin photographs of the mutilated body of Emmett Till, the teenager who was lynched by two white men in Mississippi in 1955, served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement and have remained an open wound in American society since they were first published in Jet magazine and The Chicago Defender at the urging of Till’s mother.
The images’ continuing power, more than 60 years later, to speak about race and violence is being demonstrated once again in protests that have arisen online and at the newly opened Whitney Biennial over the decision of a white artist, Dana Schutz, to make a painting based on the photographs.
An African-American artist, Parker Bright, has conducted peaceful protests in front of the painting since Friday, positioning himself, sometimes with a few other protesters, in front of the work to partly block its view. He has engaged museum visitors in discussions about the painting while wearing a T-shirt with the words “Black Death Spectacle” on the back. Another protester, Hannah Black, a British-born black artist and writer working in Berlin, has written a letter to the biennial’s curators, Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, urging that the painting be not only removed from the show but also destroyed.
“The subject matter is not Schutz’s,” Ms. Black wrote in a Facebook message that has been signed by more than 30 other artists she identifies as nonwhite. “White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.” She added that “contemporary art is a fundamentally white supremacist institution despite all our nice friends.”
The protest has found traction on Twitter, where some commenters have called for destruction of the painting and others have focused on what they view as an ill-conceived attempt by Ms. Schutz to aestheticize an atrocity.
10m: Dana Schutz should have read Saidiya Hartman before she turned Emmett Till into a bad Francis Bacon painting. 
— cathy park hong (@cathyparkhong) 
@whitneymuseum I think it's mighty disrespectful for you all to display Dana Schutz' photo of Emmet Till. You should really remove this
— Mahdi 陈 🌹 (@My_D_) 
Mr. Bright, in a Facebook Live video of his protest, makes some of the same points in objecting to the painting’s inclusion in the show. The biennial is an unusually diverse exhibition of work by 63 artists and collectives; nearly half the artists are female and half are nonwhite. Calling the painting “a mockery” and “an injustice to the black community,” Mr. Bright adds that he believes the work perpetuates “the same kind of violence that was enacted” on Till “just to make a painting move.”
“I feel like she doesn’t have the privilege to speak for black people as a whole or for Emmett Till’s family,” Mr. Bright says in the video. He also objects to the thought that the painting could be sold and make Ms. Schutz, whose work is highly sought after, a significant amount of money.
Ms. Schutz, who first exhibited the painting last year in a gallery in Berlin, has stated that she intends never to sell the work. In a statement on Tuesday, Ms. Schutz said: “I don’t know what it is like to be black in America but I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till’s only son. The thought of anything happening to your child is beyond comprehension. Their pain is your pain. My engagement with this image was through empathy with his mother.” She added: “Art can be a space for empathy, a vehicle for connection. I don’t believe that people can ever really know what it is like to be someone else (I will never know the fear that black parents may have) but neither are we all completely unknowable.”
The curators said that they wanted to include the painting because many of the exhibition’s artists focus on violence — racial, economic, cultural — and they felt that the work raised important questions, especially now, in a political climate in which race, power and privilege have become ever more urgent issues.
“For us it was so much about an issue that extends across race,” said Mr. Lew, who along with his co-curator, Ms. Locks, met with Mr. Bright on Tuesday to discuss his protest. “Yes, it’s mostly black men who are being killed, but in a larger sense this is an American problem.”
Ms. Locks said: “Right now I think there are a lot of sensitivities not just to race but to questions of identities in general. We welcome these responses. We invited these conversations intentionally in the way that we thought about the show.” She added that she felt the painting was a means of “not letting Till’s death be forgotten, as Mamie, his mother so wanted.”
The story of Till’s murder has begun to resonate loudly again in recent months. News recently emerged that the Mississippi woman who said that the 14-year-old Till whistled at her and was verbally and physically aggressive — an account that led to Till’s abduction, torture and killing — told a historian in 2007 that she had made up the most sensational part of her account.
The Black Lives Matter movement and greater awareness of the killing of black men by the police have led to efforts to film the Till story, with at least three screen adaptations in production.


22 February 2017

The green sea

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 15 February 2017, oil on canvas, 21 X 26 cm

From about a week ago comes this study from a dune at the beach where I work most nights. Its a very banal beach scene until the sun begins to set, then, all hell breaks loose.
And it's a great meditation on the sea and clouds.

20 February 2017


  Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 5 February, 2017, oil on canvas board, 21 X 26 cm

I am woefully negligent in keeping up this blog.
Hopefully I will get back to it on a regular basis.

I have been back working from Nature, specifically at the beach in front of an immense sky and not largely thick band of sea. It is a 'banal' vision of unordinary beauty. A beach and sky is all it is. And I use the word beauty with care because it is such an emotionally charged idea for so many post-modernists. However, beauty is a deeply personal concept, if one can call it that. It is certainly more than just a word even as highly over-used as it is. It is right up there with genius in its overuse. After all, John Keats did say in Ode to a Grecian Urn 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'.
Obviously, being a romantic, I am from another planet when it comes to all this. But, I am a painter who, in front of Nature simply wishes to transmit an emotional feeling to another human being. But this is not the reason I paint. I paint because it makes life more real for me, and I live better each day as a result.

About a month ago I began a series of small studies done just as the sun has dropped back behind the earth's horizon. It is that time of day when Nature prepares for sleep commonly know as Twilight, or Dusk; both equally sensual in meaning and in sound. It's a time of day when I finally awaken. The French call it 'l'heure entre le chien et le loup' The hour between the dog and the wolf, otherwise known simply as 'the hour of the wolf'. But I am not really comfortable with this. For me it is a time when everything moves with delicious speed. The colours in Nature prepare for death it could be said, and felt. At the sea, with my back to the setting sun, I witness this moment when all colours in the sky correlate chromatically with those of the sea below. One has such a small window within which to operate. And, indeed I often feel like a kind of solitary surgeon desperately trying to keep a small painting alive as all hell break loose in front of me. It is for this reason that one works. Turner, for whom I have always felt an affinity, loved the wild and destructive force of the sea, and it is known that he had himself even attached to the mast of a ship during a storm at sea. 

In any case, at the end of a long day, painting these small things is a ritual of great importance for me.

More to be revealed.

28 January 2017

Nadal, and the art of photography!

Such a marvelous photograph! If I knew the artist's name I would credit him or her.

09 October 2016

Rodin's hands

From Conversations with Stravinsky

"I made his (Rodin's) acquaintance in the Grand Hotel in Rome shortly after the beginning of the First World War. Diaghilev had organized a benefit concert there in which I conducted the Suite from Petrouschka.
I confess I was more interested in him because of his fame than because of his art for I did not share the enthusiasm of his numerous and serious admirers. I met him again, some time later at one of our ballet performances in Paris. He greeted me kindly, as though I were an old acquaintance, and at that moment I remembered the impression his fingers had made on me at our first handshaking. They were soft, quite the contrary of what I had expected, they did not seem to belong to a male hand. He had a long white beard that reached down to the navel of his long, buttoned-up surtout, and white hair covered his entire face. He sat reading a Ballet Russe programme though a pince-nez while people waited patiently for the great old artist to stand up as they passed in his row..."

26 September 2016

Stravinsky on Dylan Thomas, with whom he had hoped to work


I don't think you can say that the project ever got as far as having a subject, but Dylan had a very beautiful idea.

I first heard of Dylan Thomas from Auden, in New York, in February or March of 1950. Coming late to an appointment one day Auden excused himself saying that he had been busy helping to extricate an English poet from some sort of difficulty.

Then in May 1953, Boston University proposed to commission me to write an opera with Dylan. I was in Boston at the time and Dylan who was in New York or New Haven came to see me...  he was nervous, chain smoking the whole time, and he complained of severe gout pains...

His face and skin had the color and swelling of too much drinking. He was a shorter man than I expected, from his portraits, not more than five feet five or three, with a large protuberant behind and belly. His nose was a red bulb, and his eyes were glazed. He drank a glass of whisky with me and it seemed to put him at ease.

...As soon as I saw him I knew that the only thing to do was to love him...

23 September 2016

Igor Stravinsky on Eric Satie

He was certainly the oddest person I have ever known, but the most rare and consistently witty person, too. I had a great liking for him and he appreciated my friendliness, I think, and liked me in return. With his piece-nez, umbrella, and galoshes he looked a perfect schoolmaster, but he looked just as much like one without theses accoutrements. He spoke very softly, hardly opening his mouth, but he delivered each word in an inimitable, precise way. His handwriting recalls his speech to me: it is exact, drawn. His manuscripts were like him also, which is to say as the French say 'fin'. No one ever saw him wash, he had a horror of soap. Instead he was forever rubbing his fingers with pumice. He was always very poor, poor by conviction, I think. He lived in a poor section and his neighborhood seemed to appreciate his coming among them: He was greatly respected by them. His apartment was also very poor. It did not have a bed but only a hammock. In winter Satie would fill bottles of hot water and put them flat in a row underneath his hammock. It looked like some strange kind of Marimba I 
remember once when someone had promised him somme money he replied:
"Monsieur, what you have said did not fall a deaf". His sarcasm depended on French classic  usages. The first time I heard Socrate, at a séance where he played it for a few of us, he turned around at the end and said in perfect bourgeosie: "Voila, messieurs, dames."

15 April 2016

Oscar Murillo and the passport!


Oscar Murillo CreditGerard Julien/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

Was it art, protest — or both?
It’s still not entirely clear just what the Colombian artist Oscar Murillo was thinking last month when he flushed his British passport down a toilet, midflight to Sydney, as he headed toward an art biennale there.
Instead, he was detained for two days in Sydney — after which he was deported to Singapore and eventually returned to Britain. (Mr. Murillo also holds a Colombian passport.) On Monday, these events were confirmed by his gallery, David Zwirner. Now the artist is being asked to explain them.
On Tuesday in London, Mr. Murillo released a statement through Zwirner to The New York Times and acknowledged that he had not originally intended to stage a protest but that his action had become one. “Destroying my passport was a way of challenging the conditions in which I have the privilege of moving through the world, as a citizen,” he said in his statement. “The act creates a disruptive situation that has the real potential to engage different power structures in a complex society — my status as an artist, the state as an arbiter, and the question of mobility in general.”
According to ArtNews, Mr. Murillo decided four hours before landing in Sydney that the work he was taking to the Biennale of Sydney was not sufficient and destroyed the documentation that would have allowed him to enter Australia easily, creating a situation that may have been a comment “on his own geopolitical identity,” that publication wrote.
Subsequently, Judith Benhamou-Huet, a French journalist and curator, said on her blog that she ran into Mr. Murillo at Hong Kong Art Basel, where he talked further about his concerns with the Sydney Biennale.
Mr. Murillo, in one of the iPhone videos uploaded to Ms. Benhamou-Huet’s blog, said: “I gave a proposal, I went and made a proposal with a curator, and we were both really happy with it.” At the same time, he said, “there seemed to be a lot of conservative attitudes toward allowing an artist to be really freely expressive.”
In his statement on Tuesday, he noted that “a lot of curation today leads to the homogenization of emerging cultures — emerging from the perspective of the West — instead of forming collaborative exchanges with people that fall outside the dominant art world.” He added, “I was also trying to address the commodification of race and social practice in art.”
Called by his fans “the 21st-century Basquiat,” Mr. Murillo quickly went from cleaning office buildings to cover his expenses at the Royal College of Art in London to seeing his canvases sell at auction for more than $400,000.
More recently, however, his prices may have lost steam. Three Murillo works failed to sell over the last year at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.

18 March 2016

polka dots in the church

I cannot remember where I found this, probably the NYT. But in any even I liked it immediately. Its a church somewhere in Italy, certainly.

17 March 2016

Sara Bright, (ceramic and wash)

I fell upon these images while reading about Art in California. They are quite intriguing.

16 March 2016

"only the rich buy this"

David Hammons, at the Mnuchin Gallery

Reading about this new exhibit currently showing in New York, I couldn't help but wonder if it was not meant to mock the rich, effete and powerful white collecting class? Or, is it just effete itself? 

  1. affected, over-refined, and ineffectual.
    "effete trendies from art college"
    synonyms:affected, over-refined, ineffectualartificialstudiedpretentiouspreciouschichiflowerymanneredMore
    • no longer capable of effective action.
      "the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle"
      synonyms:weakened, enfeebled, enervated, worn outexhaustedfinished, burnt out, played out, drained, spentpowerless
      "the whole fabric of society is becoming effete"
    • (of a man) weak or effeminate.
      "he chatted away, exercising his rather effete charm"