The Card Game is what I have chosen to call a portion of my current painting practice. This work revolves around strategies I employ to bring narrative and imagery to an otherwise purely abstract painting. I have taken my cues from many sources but most singularly from Fernand Léger and particularly his drawing study “The Card Game’ (1917). I create dynamic pictorial abstract spaces, where battling forms and suggestions of imagery and narrative interplay. It is in this shared contemplative space, that allows me freedom and autonomy. This in turn, is why I choose to call this body of work ‘The Card Game’.
Fernand Léger, The Card Game, (1917)
These new paintings are part of the series I call Bitter Rice. They have been produced after revisiting the painting ‘Excavation’ (1950) by Willem deKooning.
In my research I found that deKooning credited the 1949 Italian neorealist film Bitter Rice as having given him the idea for his widely regarded painting. I was curious to see if I could decipher how this film was inspirational to him, and could now be a well-spring from which this work would flow. The idea of going back to the cinematographic source, rather than deKooning’s painting itself for my inspiration sets the tone for me in pursuing these paintings.
The film is somewhat of a muddled mix of ambitions, part social commentary, part crime drama. Scenes depict workers, who are planting rice seedlings in flooded fields, and are involved in a labor dispute. The scene, as shot from above, devolves into fighting and wrestling in the churning ground, all sharp elbows and thrashing limbs. Similar shapes and contortions are a driving force in this work.
Equally interesting to me is Fernand Legér’s ‘Contrast of Form' series, (1914) which can be described as a battle of volumes. The rigor of deKooning’s merging of cubist and surrealist space with the movement and implied volume of Legèr are both part of the dialogue now in my studio.
It is in these areas that I seek to create new logical systems of defining form in abstraction. This is not just a formal examination, but my desire to speak to forces that propel us forward and to reflect on our place in the cosmos.
Willem deKooning, Excavation, (1950)
Most of my sculptural work done mostly prior to 2000 fits into a tradition best labeled as post minimalist. These works vary in intent and materials but are often paying homage to Marcel Duchamp in subtle ways. There is a dialogue between materials and their function but, not seeking to be too clever, are usually done in some opposing logical fashion. Some examples of earlier work, use classical architecture as a departure point, but the structures and proportions are authored with a surrealist narrative.
The sculptures I made in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s had been informed by an examination of the work of Vladimir Tatlin, and Kurt Schwitters, specificaly his site specific work ' Mertzbau' whose disparate elements, that seem chaotic but reveal the inherent dynamic logic of a living form. The ‘constructivist’ wood sculpture Ice 9, !979, pays tribute to both Caspar David Friedrich’s painting, The Sea of Ice, 1824, and a nod to Kurt Vonnegut, and concept of Ice 9, from his book 'Cat's Cradle'.
Caspar David Friedrich, The sea of Ice, (1824)