better light to continue work on gaze 34 / by Philip Tarlow

3:55 PM: we were in school all morning, where I video taped some extraordinary presentations by the local high school kids on the school of the future. more about that another time. 

by the time i arrived at the studio, it was 2pm & i wasn't sure whether or not i could get any work done. but i did.

i think gaze 34 has improved from where it was at yesterday, but i can never tell till the next day. below is yesterdays iteration on the left and todays on the right. a collages map was added on the right side and her face was worked on, as well as an overall light scrumble.

10:35am: we completely forgot that we have to be in school this morning! I'll be videotaping the kids presenting their projects. May not get to the studio. Might have 1-2 hours to work; stay tuned.

8:47 am: in about an hour, i'll walk 500 ft. through the fresh snow to my studio and have that all important first glance at the revised gaze 34. i riffed yesterday on a quote taken from a recent new yorker review of an exhibition: "identity and abstraction inform rather than oppose each other." lets take this a bit further.  

over the years i've experimented with pure abstraction in my work, specifically in 2013-14, when i executed a series of collages. while they contain representational elements, such as the one you see here, containing a variety of maps, they can be identified as non-representational. their identity consists of colors & forms in space. while aesthetically pleasing, this just does not do it for me. i need an identity. on the other hand, identity without the visual prompts indicating my awareness of the abstraction of a specific identity as all important is also unsatisfying for me. it delineates the boundary between illustration and painting.

sometimes, as in this detail from gaze 34 as it looked yesterday, that awareness of abstraction manifests in what is termed painterliness; an interruption of the literal which, aside from the sheer delight of gestural marks on a surface of the kind we often find in the drawings and paintings made by young children, serves as a reminder that the goal is not literal, photographic representation. rather, it is juicy, sexy, marks on a two dimensional surface that conjure the entire history  of art as it evolved from cave art all the way to the present moment. these marks ALSO translate as identity. in this detail, they are lips, eyes, cheeks, etc. ideally, that identity is enriched and gains a certain mystery in the process. it triggers memories of important moments in ones own personal visual history as well as the entire history, past and present, of mark making. in that sense, it can be deeply rewarding and merits revisiting. can we ever tire of taking in picasso's demoiselles d'avignon at MOMA? not to compare myself to the master; i'm using this as an example of my own personal visual history. that painting will never get old, never lose it's mystery; it's excitement; it's moments of obvious discovery; it's sexuality. that is the goal.