Tennis and Contemporary Abstract Painting

Tennis and Contemporary Abstract Painting

There is a very curious parallel between Tennis and Contemporary Abstract Painting. As an Abstract Painter who plays tennis nearly daily, I have noticed certain correspondences that neither Tennis Players nor Abstract Painters put into position, but nevertheless are present in both. A tennis court is a specified rectangle of a certain size with clearly remarked end points. Most abstract paintings are done on rectangular formats and not dizzy edged canvases or flobby pillow like surfaces. A Tennis Player is very aware of the edges of the court, just as an Abstract Painter is aware of the edges of the canvas. A Tennis Player is aware of the space between things: the space between ball and net, the ball and player, ball and Self and, particularly, if a ball is rocketing toward their head at 150 mph. An Abstract Painter is very aware of the space between things: aware of the center of the canvas, the edges of the canvas and the two and three-dimensional aspects of forms moving through space. Tennis players are forms who move through space; they know not where they may next move, though sometimes there is a several second awareness of where they should move if they can get there. An Abstract Painter has a similar built-in system of awareness of where they should move, or rather: where a form painted in free space should move and where the space around a form should move and shift in some fashion. Tennis is, in many ways, a very abstract set of agreements and circumstances. Players agree to abide by a set of rules. The court has...
Art Historical Resonance and Komarin Exhibition in The Hamptons

Art Historical Resonance and Komarin Exhibition in The Hamptons

As an abstract painter painting in 2015, it is a very curiously emotional experience to show my new paintings in Bridgehampton, New York. Many do not realize that some of the greatest American Painters of the past century settled in The Hamptons in the late 40’s and 50’s, having moved out of the barren, cold, and gritty loft spaces of lower New York. Two of the most famous of these individuals were Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. While Willem de Kooning had emigrated from Holland to New York, and Jackson Pollock from Wyoming to New York, both had lived and worked in the lower reaches of Manhattan. Life for an abstract painter in the 30’s and 40’s was a very tough experience indeed. Painters tended to live in cold water flats – toilets and sinks down the hall – and very little money coming up the pipeline. The mindset and expectation of making money was very, very low. There was no place to go, so why not pour everything into the ‘work.’ Painters at this time were drawn to painting like moths to a flame. It was not the career that well-positioned parents and teachers encouraged their talented children to pursue. Picasso was the God that was worshipped from across the big and tumbling ocean…and both Pollock and de Kooning struggled to keep alive, make the rent and still paint their hearts out during the daylight hours. Both were heavy drinkers and smokers, but this came very much with the territory. It wasn’t so much an attempt to be ‘romantic,’ the act of painting. Rather, these individuals were hard-core devoted artists and the drinking and smoking...
The Drip in Abstract Painting: To Drip Or Not To Drip?

The Drip in Abstract Painting: To Drip Or Not To Drip?

The Drip or the use of the Drip in Contemporary Abstraction is a complicated subject. It is natural for paint to drip. It is a liquid material, or can be made liquid to varying degrees and for anyone who has attempted to paint a house they will soon realize Paint will by its very nature drip. Throughout the world, in past cultures, the drip was not encouraged. It made little sense for a painter in prehistoric times, or the time of Christ or the Pre Renaissance or Post Renaissance to allow for drips in painting or a fresco or a mural. This diametric changed considerably with the beginnings of Abstract Painting in the early part of the 20th century. Painters began to see the drip as something with a certain ‘aliveness’ that might help to enhance the energy of a painting and this awareness of the drip came to center stage with Jackson Pollock in the later 40’s in New York, particularly when he moved from the warehouses of lower New York to the more open spaces of The Springs in East Hampton. Pollock had moved from painting with a brush to dripping the liquefied paint with sticks and brushes. He would lay the canvas flat on the floor and walk around the painting, losing track of inside and outside, top and bottom, east and west. There had been precedent for dripping paint amongst the Native American Indian sand painters earlier in the century, but Pollock took this dripping to new heights, in terms of complexity and scale, that had not been achieved before. The drip replaced the brushstroke:...
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...
Painting on the Edge vs Edges of the Painting

Painting on the Edge vs Edges of the Painting

For a Painter — whether abstract or figurative or somewhere in between — the edges of the painting are a very important thing. The average viewer may not consider the edges of the painting, may never think at all in fact about the edges of the painting as they are primarily concerned with what is going on inside the painting. Before the 20th century most paintings in the West provided a picture window through which one looked into the painting to see the unfolding drama, whether figures acting out some sort of scene on the battlefield or an interior drama in a Venetian ballroom. The point is that one looked into the picture and did not consider the physicality of the canvas or the nature of the edges of the painting. A viewer of an 18th century Dutch landscape painting with cows grazing on rolling green hills and a hawk flying above a dark and cloudy sky would scarcely be aware of the edges of that painting. In contrast, if someone were to graze that viewer with the edges of a sharp knife they would very quickly be aware of the edges of that knife. The point being that when working on a rectangular canvas, which was the accepted structure and format in western painting for hundreds of years, the painter had to be concerned with the edges of the painting as paint was certainly applied to those four edges but also because the edges of the painting helped to define and focus on the drama occurring in the rest of the canvas. In other words, the subject of...