Come Hell or High Water

Waking up this morning in country Connecticut. A torrential heavy, heavy downpour, cats and dogs do not apply here. This was tropical, Shakespearean, nearly biblical, in its thrust and manner. The rain so heavy and steady kept the puppies sleeping and me awake. The internet is down, the TV is down, the iPhone does not work. Luckily the coffee machine does and did, and the lights most important. What to do now I thought? I grabbed an umbrella and marched up the green slope of a hill to my studio where, no matter what the wreckage of the night has been, dreams tossing pillows all over the bed, I could find my sanctuary, my place of calm and contemplation. So I began without much ado to put together a checkerboard like cake painting on paper. Stacked cakes I have been calling them. This one a pale yellow in some quadrants and a creme white in others, alternating pale yellow with creme, back and forth and back and forth, curiously the pale yellow was very close in color to the Alfa Romeo that I own, as the story ties together a trade we made for a painting with a collector on the lake who loved my work. The stacked cake painting, yellow and creme with white, now waits for me, not me for it, but it for me. Up in the studio as the rain finishes what it does, what it is meant to do and the TV still sleeps as do the puppies. Shortly I will get up, grab my coffee and march up the hill and paint this...

Cakes & Drips / Drips & Cakes

I have been painting cakes in one format or another, on paper and canvas, tall and lean, square or rotund, light or dark since the mid-90’s when I was invited to show with jean Michel- Basquiat, Phillip Guston and Bill Traylor in New York. The question of drips or no drips in the cakes comes up quite often more often than you might suspect. The curious thing is that whether doing an abstraction of a cake, which in effect all of the Komarin cakes are large, small or lean and tall: some cakes have more drips, some have few and several have nearly none at all. A drip can mean many things to many people and there is something odd or wonderful in human nature that some see a drip as positive, a good thing, and others the opposite. Not just cakes, but in real life or daily life, that drip that occurs when the icing is perhaps too thin or too hot when applied, but when you think about it, all liquids drips, whether water, blood, milk or wine. A drip can be watched or recorded nowadays as it moves along a flat plane of a painting or a woman’s dress as a glass of wine tumbles about at a boisterous dinner party or a rocky ship. Humans weep and those tears are drips and water flows over steep rocks and those are drips too. Are they beautiful, ugly or somewhere in between? Deliberate or not, they have energy, they move, and they are unpredictable. A brand new Mercedes fresh from the factory does not want to have...

Cakes Stacked / Stacked Cakes

I am quite thrilled to be doing an exhibition by invitation for the first time in my career of the cakes. This exhibition to open January 13, 2018 was curated by James Salomon in New York. I have been doing cake paintings on paper and canvas since 1996 when I first showed with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York. This exhibition is titled: Cakes Stacked / Stacked Cakes: From 24 Cakes at Kit Mandor. The cakes developed organically over time and were never ‘directed’ or intentionally or theoretically developed. It happens that my father was an architect who trained in Europe and worked in New York, while my mother, who was a Viennese writer, baked a good many taste cakes while we were kids growing up in New York. The cakes therefore are a marriage of sorts between the architectural and the domestic. Barry Schwabsky, a New York based writer and art critic had written that the he felt that the cakes were more architectural than they were about something ‘sweet’ and that the armature of the cake, in a similar fashion to Josef Alber’s squares and Mark Rothko’s floating cloud shapes, allowed me to play with color and space, and the tension and/or harmony between the two; i.e. the armature of the cakes and the variations on color of armature and ground was what kept the cakes alive and intriguing. For me, the rather amazing aspect to the cakes is how very much ‘variety’ I manage to squeeze out of a format that I have done many, many times. One writer in New York termed this – “the solace...

Large & Small

I have long wondered why some artists -whether they be painters, sculptors, photographers, or conceptual artists- choose to work large or small or perhaps somewhere in between. Some of the considerations for working large have to do with physical mechanics and how one navigates the space of a painting. Some artists use ladders or long handled brushes to make the painting itself. There are also issues of moving large artworks around from one corner of the studio to another or storing large scale works. Painting a large painting can be terrifically liberating. It might allow the artist to open up the space of a painting in a way that a small scale piece might not. Working large could encourage a wider arc, a bigger brushstroke or greater stretches of colour. On the other hand, a large painting could be intimidating and can start to feel like being swallowed up by the enormous and cavernous space. Painting a large painting can be terrifically liberating. It might allow the artist to open up the space of a painting in a way that a small scale piece might not. Working large could encourage a wider arc, a bigger brushstroke or greater stretches of colour. On the other hand, a large painting could be intimidating and can start to feel like being swallowed up by the enormous and cavernous space. Working small scale for a painter could allow for great intimacy. One can see the entire canvas in one breath and navigate the surface in minutes rather than hours. A smaller scale canvas can allow for the artist to see the whole and...
Have Your Cake And Eat It Too: Happiness & Komarin Cakes

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too: Happiness & Komarin Cakes

The concept of Happiness, or the desire to seek Happiness, is a relatively new construct in human development.  All people want to be Happy but few understand what it means to be Happy and how Happiness, or the idea of seeking Happiness, has changed over time. Few people in the Modern Age realize (or appreciate) how very difficult the simple act of survival was in a world without fire, where Humans either ate food they could forage or food of larger, sharper-toothed creatures. Humans, of course, also ate each other; early forms of Cannibalism were more widely practiced around the world than many realize. The Buddhists focus more on a life of peace and simplicity and harmony than they do on seeking Happiness. To quote an expression that I have long liked: Hope for the best, expect the worst. In more recent times Thomas Jefferson, when writing the Declaration of Independence, was very influenced by the writings of John Locke and by the Greek philosopher Epicurus. In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote of the individuals right to: Life, liberty and the pursuit of property. The terms property was changed last minute to the pursuit of happiness, which was a newer term in the lexicon of the time, and one that was not as widely considered, recognized or appreciated. Owning property in the 18th century, to an aristocrat like Jefferson, was extremely important. Jefferson, as well as many of his comrades who were forming this new nation, owned a great deal of property (which was not necessarily theirs to own, as it was already owned by Native Americans, but...
Writing About The Painting vs. Writing in The Painting

Writing About The Painting vs. Writing in The Painting

Many art collectors and viewers are quite familiar with the concept of writing about a painting in terms of analysis, and fitting a certain painting into an art historical context. Writing in the painting is an entirely different modality and not often fully appreciated outside art circles, poets and writers in general, and those who are text heavy in their overall thinking. The use of writing or text in painting goes back to at least Egyptian and Sumerian and Greek works of 5,000 years ago and those writings were often used to help tell the story of a particular battle, to praise a fallen leader…or discuss the death of a dynasty. Picasso began to pick up on text and the use of words in his paintings in the early part of the twentieth century as a way to bring the outside world inside to the world of art making. In truth, there really is no Inside and Outside. There is only continuously flowing space. This space is separated through architecture and engineering into seeming “inside and outside“ spaces but space is continuous. You only need to leave our little blue spinning planet for a few minutes to realize this. Space goes on forever and then some. When Picasso introduced words into his paintings, often through clipping sections of French journals and periodicals and pasting them into his early cubist works, he was quite physically bringing the outside world into his work, shocking the viewer into an awareness of the connectedness between inside and outside. Picasso used the text in a nearly abstract fashion. The content of the words introduced was of less importance than the visual cacophony...