12 June 2015

Sarah Manguso

I picked up a small book the other day by Sarah Manguso entitled Ongoingness. I had seen a review of it in the NYT, and it looked very interesting because it concerns her diary-keeping. Being a diarist myself since 1986, I was immediately sucked into it. It is tiny book of short entrees on each page in which she reflects upon her feelings about keeping a diary. For anyone interested in this personal form of narcism I highly recommend it.

But I mention it because I fell on an entry which speaks so clearly about what painting means to me in this period of my life. As these poor pages can attest I have tried to articulate this ephemeral idea. Ms Manguso expresses it perfectly.

"I often prefer writers' diaries to their work written intentionally for publication. It's as if I want the information without obstacles of style or form. But of course all writing possesses style and form, and in good writing they aren't obstacles.

Another friend said, 
'I want to write sentences that seem as if no one wrote them.'
The goal being the creation of a pure delivery system, without the distraction of a style. The goal being a form no one notices, the creation of what seems like pure feeling, not of what seems like a vehicle for a feeling. Language as pure experience, pure memory. I too wanted to achieve that impossible effect."

This is most interesting for me. In Painting over the past 60 years there have been several waves in art which have come so close to this idea. (And of course, the Japanese!) Trying to achieve a painting which has no hand, in fact. Artists like Rauschenberg simply showed found objects rather dryly in the gallery space. Today, it is a generally accepted method of working (and exhibiting).

But what interests me is to hot-wire the system using paint to arrive at a feeling in a painting without that constraint of a stylistic form. (imagine details of a Van Gogh picture) Here (below) is an example of what I am after, although, it too, falls short. In the end, I do not want to imitate Nature so much as perhaps mimic it using a method of building up and destroying back down some ephemeral feeling. It is a process of editing; but also layering until that secret intuitive pool of meaning is pulled up  from deep inside one. A writer might describe it as playing with the unconscious, manipulating it, and with discipline shaping  it into something of form. And the choices involved in this process create the idea of the work in question unbeknownst to the maker.

more will be revealed.

160 X 120 cm

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