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: it was that simple. But, for anyone who paints, it was not simple at all.

Pollock had to know when to drip heavily, when to drip lightly…when to change color modalities and when to leave the weave of the canvas open and exposed.

Gary Komarin Drip Painting

When Komarin paints a Painting, he too puts the canvas on the studio floor, especially in the early stages. Whereas Pollock only dripped, Komarin works the brush with liquefied paint and drips here and there as needed.

The painting is, after some time, finally hung on the wall where drips are allowed to do what they do. Sometimes, Komarin will hang a painting that has dripped from north to south – horizontally – so that the drips move sideways.

This creates unexpected freedom and allows for a certain free floating quality.

The Painting floats, freed from the burdens of gravity and all that goes with that inevitable weight.


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