study #1 for the scroll project / by Philip Tarlow

2:51 PM: today i began making studies for my scroll project. it will consist of four 84x18” scrolls on unprimed linen, which will hang next to one another, about 4” apart, forming an 84x84” composition once they are hung. each 84x18 painting will be able to stand alone, or can be hung, as they will be in the may exhibition at space gallery in denver, together. together they will form one unified composition.

this first study was painted on a surface i just happened to have available, so it doesn’t conform to the 84 x 18 dimensions; it should be narrower, like 10” instead of 18. but it’s what was handy in the moment and has at least allowed me to feel that i’ve launched into this project, which i’ve been thinking about for the past few months.

in part, the inspiration was sparked by looking at and studying ike taiga and tokuyama gyokuran, both 18th c. japanese masters of the brush.

much of what they did was in the form of scrolls. i found one, which you see BELOW on the left, roughly the size of each of the four scroll paintings i’m planning: 77 3/4 x 15 1/2” . in western art, of course, these dimensions are rarely found, if at the four fold screen BELOW right, ike has created a single landscape composition. i am deeply drawn to how the chinese and japanese masters of this period and earlier, going back to the 10th c. chinese masters, have created a language of marks and forms that could be called abstracted landscapes. with that language they have, in the best cases, managed to convey the feeling of place without describing place. and the best of them did this consciously, feeling that mere description was a lesser form.