Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ahab, the Pequod and Frank Stella at the Whitney

Frank Stella
It is interesting that Stella has a retrospective at the same time that  Zombie Formalism is reigning supreme in the contemporary art scene. The shadow of Stella’s early painting haunts their work and functions as a ground upon which these artists build their imagery. But it is not a ground with which they engage in a dialogue or agonic surpassing but a blatant copying. Whereas Stella’s work cut itself away from the Cartesian doubt of most Modernism and cut out for itself a role of being emblematic of the modernist and positivistic hegemony of America triumphant, the Zombie Formalists express a sort of redundancy where the present keeps repeating itself in a circular loop: Stella ad infinitum.
Sarah Morris
Mark Grotjahn

Stella makes it easy for abstractionistas to fall back on his work as a formula for “abstraction making”, in that he already excised color and form from their grounding in the perception of reality. Instead of a panoply of color that works dynamically out of the complexity of color perception, he uses a rules based strategy limiting their number and form as though pre-selected from a color-aid pack. This simplicity of color choice goes hand in glove with a simplicity of form. Moreover, his self-consciousness early on about the shape of the rectilinear canvasses’ relationship to the forms conveyed within, leads easily to taking the form making from the canvasses shape. Again,, it is his ignorance, willed or otherwise, about how colors interact with each other that frees him up to deal with the canvas as abstract form. I recall years ago meditating on his black canvases and realized that this absence of any activity of push and pull between colors resulted in the objectification of the canvas leading to the canvas beings perceived as a shape on a white wall. Object among other objects, including the humidity meter.  An absence of a metaphysical pointing out from the canvas to another realm keeps the canvas in a pragmatic world of just being a physical shape on the wall.  You can see this same strategy pursued by Ellsworth Kelley, who eventually deconstructs the support reinforcing its materiality, which is not the road Stella goes down. He could have gone there but for the haunting of the majesty of Baroque painting that turns him toward a pursuit of complexity and expansion off the wall out into space. He identified more with the overweening confidence of those Baroque artists than with the self-reflexive doubt that motivated the early Modernists. The artists of Rome had the majesty and power of the Church to buoy them up. Stella had the absolute domination of a positivist scientific world view promulgated by the most powerful nation in the world to launch him into an enormous expending of materiel.…
Frank Stella

An understanding of the relationship of Stella to his own antecedents is clarified by studying his influence on his descendants, the Zombie Formalists. Stella and the Zombie Formalists ignore core aspects of their sources. Stella abandons the optical self-reflection that formed the core of Mondrian’s artistic progress in order to use color as just shapes to play with. Within the paintings of the Zombie Formalists any notion of play found in Stella is abandoned so as to foreground a ghostly use of Stella as commodity. Interestingly enough, working backward hermeneutically from the dry commodification of the Zombies, the playful aspect of Stella in contrast seems to become a more salient aspect of his work. It is as a whole the product of "homo ludens" and is therefore more optimistic and out of sorts with the cold cynicism of the zombie zeitgeist. The retrospective seemed out of sync on so many levels with our times and lead me to understand why even the goofy playfulness of  Koons has to be couched in postmodern cynicism to be successfully marketed in this day and age.

Frank Stella
Derrida coined the term hauntology (a play on ontology) to express how the past informs the present in a post-ideological world. The enormous crucial battles of civil and individual liberation are over; there is just the road of ever more efficient technological functioning and communication. Heroic notions of humanity or the working class fade away as an ever more wired society keeps mankind integrated into the mechanism of the industrial state. Since the priority of this state of being is ever more efficient functioning, it is in its interest to obliterate any connection to the past that could slow it down. Although other modes of being that once existed come back to “haunt” the present, and we can try them on or play around with them, they do not define our essential mode of being in the world. Or maybe they can only be recycled in the current cynical mood as Stella has been by the zombie formalists or as John Currin does with the style of the populist Thomas Hart Benton.  The goal is to empty them of meaning so that ultimately private domains once explored in painting cannot escape being mechanized or function ever again as possible sources of individual self-realization.
"The Pequod Meets the Jeroboam" Frank Stella 1993

Melville’s story of the great white whale is often seen as a study and critique of capitalism. Ahab is only interested in his private quest and is clever and manipulative enough to convince his crew to go along with him. Melville is somewhat ambivalent about the morality of this exploitation as he feels we all exploit someone below us even as we are exploited. In my reacquaintance with the book several years ago what struck me was that the crew and Ahab are two different species of mankind. The crew is close to its surroundings ever ready so as to react to changing circumstances. When a sailor is knocked overboard on the shuttle out to Nantucket, Queequeg without prompting jumps into the icy November waters to save him. The crew creates bonds among each other instinctively knowing that their survival depends on being a band of brothers. They feel the palpability of the world as much as Ahab ignores it. For him everything is metaphysically abstract and involves goals that move the crew toward a denouement far from the practical goals of whaling.

There is an analogy I would like to attempt between Ahab's distance from the real and Stella's ignorance of any relationship to the long optical tradition of Western painting. The world is experienced by the crew of the Peqoud with a hands on feel for the things and events around them. For Ahab the world is not experienced in its praxis but is manipulated and ignored in the way Stella’s colors are abstract in the worst sense, derived from color-aid packs, not the way color is experienced in the eye as in Bonnard, Matisse or Cezanne. Stella has left artistically the sensuality of being in the world behind in order to fulfill what he sees as his manifest destiny to occupy more and more space. His formal affects are not achieved as for example in the work of Al Held, but imposed as he piles patterns on top of patterns. This  analogy of Ahab's delirium to Stella’s lack of grounding in the sensual is weak in only one sense: Stella does not live up to the the degree of Ahab's ascetic delirium. The journey he takes us on is neither majestic nor exhilarating. There is no hint at the void that lies under all of his exploits. At most Stella is a good engineer. Ben Davis in his spot on review of the show mentions a thesis Stella wrote at Princeton. Its bearing on his achievement is interesting to mention:

In that long-ago Princeton theses on Pollock and Celtic ornament, Stella claimed that the formula for "art" was pushing decoration to the point where it transcended itself. The knotted pyrotechnics of these final pieces certainly do that—it's actually hard to think of a space where they would work as passive d├ęcor. It's just that the direction they transcend decoration towards is the domain of theme parks and Broadway bombast. That is, spectacles built not to savor but to stun, not for connoisseurs but for visitors passing through.

The title of Davis’ essay is “All Style no Substance”. It raises questions about what is substance, what is substantial. The word can be better understood if broken down into “what stands under”. A meditation on what is substantiality and its relation to Stella’s work would be of interest to the connoisseurs and would make an engagement with the work of Stella worth their while if his work were at all engaged in that questioning itself. To savor such a discussion would be to linger, not to pass through.

* an interesting discussion is taking place here: on Henri Art Mag

strange article from 1964 in the New York Times seeing the Nihilism of Stella https://www.nytimes.com/1964/02/16/archives/the-new-nihilism-art-versus-feeling.html

Monday, August 24, 2015

William Bailey and Donald Judd

            I have written about almost all my teachers from college: Al Held on on my blog and "Artdeal", Lester Johnson on “Berkshire Fine Arts”, Bernie Chaet in an essay to a show I curated and Erwin Hauer in my book on drawing, but have neglected to write about the work of William Bailey. Odd since he had the most impact on my sense of what it means to be an artist. I still recall fondly his support of my work when he was my “Scholar of the House” advisor as a senior. Although I have quoted his insights throughout my blogging, his work presents itself to me as a conundrum and resists easy description. It is realist but does not partake of the history of realism from Caravaggio on, since it is not grounded in an exploration of the perceptual base of most realism. It therefore does not have the sort of optical impact of something freshly seen as in Lennart Anderson’s or Al Leslie’s work. It partakes of the figuration of the early Renaissance, that is typified by Perugino, which was still imbued with notions of metaphysics and correspondences between the earthly and the higher realms. where ideality dictated reality. There is a will to make the figures of his paintings real, but it is achieved through a meticulous working of the surface not through any analysis of how things are seen through the eye's optical structure. Like so much avant-garde American art of the last fifty years they jump out of the subject/object dichotomy and move into a neutral world of pragmatically made things following simple rules. There is neither a trope toward endless reduction in a search for underpinnings nor a move into the optical ambiguity of figure/ground that Held explores in his “Big N”. It is as though the object is already reduced in the way that cubes in a Judd installation are, not subject to further questioning as to what stands under them. Both Midwesterners they share a workmanlike practicality, which posits pragmatically things as made and space as just the opportunity for placement.

William Bailey

This interpretation flies in the face of  Bailey as a Romantic, who has turned his back on Modernity to flee into a world of numinous objects. He is closer to Malevich, the father of Minimalism, whose abstraction is created ex nihilo than to Mondrian, whose search for essences involved a painstaking reduction of the visual world. Although, I do recall his admiration for Mondrian’s surfaces, where the remnants of physicality still survived. Maybe it could be said about Bailey’s surfaces that they are the sole event in his work where the optical remains.

His followers have latched onto the myth of the anti-modern Bailey with his philo-Italian lifestyle and love of the pre-modern. When I knew him early on, his somewhat revisionist opinions did give me permission to look at whatever art period interested and inspired me without feeling compelled to follow the style du jour. But I now see Bailey as very modern, more modern than Held who presented himself as more cutting edge than everyone else at Yale. Bailey and Judd represent the rejection of the optical tradition of the West from Caravaggio's chiaroscuro to Cubism, a rejection that has defined the last 40 years of art more than any other idea. Culturally, it puts him in the anti-representational domain of Samuel Beckett whose characters in “Endgame” are reduced to a bare minimum and resist further reduction. The perspectival approach in the end always atomizes and relativizes what it sees: Bailey, Beckett and Judd put a stop to this endless dissolution with a harsh notion of a pragmatic reality beyond which one cannot go.

Bailey is Judd and Judd is Bailey 

Donald Judd

Judd presents the irreducibility of the human/made with his boxes.  Bailey is doing the same with his eggs, bottles and figures. Bailey’s message is that the world of the human is self-constructed, yet once constructed it envelopes us; we surround and are surrounded by the human. We are always arranging our objects on the table or putting them away in the cupboard. Inevitably, the human presence stands out there beyond us without the ambiguity of being subjected to our gaze as in Giacometti. It is an eternal realm that will outlive the abstract constructs of engineering and science. In the end Bailey’s is a rhetorical painting, which insists adamantly on an idealized notion of being in the world.
Donald Judd
Although putting him in the Minimalist camp probably creates some confusion in the reader’s mind when you consider the multiple objects and “realism” of his work(Judd didn't like the term as it applied to him), I think the confusion is obviated if you see Judd et alia as the “Irreducibles”. Then, Bailey fits right in with this notion of the artist’s vision that puts a stop to endless analysis. Notions of autonomy and authority of High Modernism have come up recently via comments by Carl Belz on my writing about Provisional Painting and Zombie Formalism. Intentionally or otherwise, the practitioners of  Provisionalism (often called Casualism)deconstruct the authoritative stance of artists like Stella, Judd or Kelly by abandoning Minimalism’s self -referential  autonomy. In a post-modern way everything is couched in irony and incompleteness. Their approach is seen as the necessary abandonment of the self-sufficient world of scientific certainty. Bailey is clearly on the other side of the divide. There is neither irony nor incompleteness. He is an autonomous modernist side by side with Stella, Kelley and Judd.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Topoi of Contemporary Culture: Thomas Kinkade, McDonalds and MoMA's "Forever Now"

For a recently curated show I attempted to write an essay about the paintings in terms of topology. I came across the more than geographic use of it in a book by Jeff Malpas, which deals with its role in understanding Heidegger’s philosophy. I didn’t want to give the impression of co-opting the artist's work for my own intellectual purposes, so I wrote about the work in the context of contemporary art. However, not a day goes by without experiencing astonishment at the power of the word topos to unlock the mysteries of how the world functions. With the show over, I will  now explore the tropic of topos in terms of the society as a whole.

Leibniz asked:” Why is there something rather than nothing?” Which was similar to Heidegger marveling that “things function”. Both express awe in the face of the amazing phenomena of life on earth. And both are questions meant to generate a meditation on our being in the world. Heidegger prefaced any understanding of functioning by insisting we are already in a world shared with other people and any functioning takes place within a certain economy (Reiner Schurmann’s word for topos) i.e. there is an overall shape to how we interact in the world and with people, an ongoing back and forth and a moving forward. Most often that configuration is given or imposed on us. For example we work in a certain place where our activities are highly structured. It has its hierarchy, its obligations: it may be funded by state taxes or it may be capitalist and depend on profits. The shock of the unforeseen may be softened by the purchase of insurance. All this gives a workplace a certain appearance and predictability over time. The way things look is the purview of art and each economy will have a certain appearance. The Soviet Union for example looked a certain way that perfectly reflected its top down management of the economy.  I read recently how the dour feel of Moscow during the Soviet Era that I witnessed in the early Seventies while touring Eastern Europe, quickly became energized with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the concurrent influx of western capital. I recall during that tour through the Soviet Bloc how the absence of a market economy resulted in strange local markets such as one that only sold locally produced cherries. Tasty and fresh but I was not interested in having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In a search for the use of the term Zombie Formalism on the Internet, I came across a site that rambled on about what they thought was the capitalist origin of the white cube, i.e. the typical gallery space. The Marxist tilt of the language implied that galleries provide a certain topos of indifference so as to let the object appear to be more valuable and significant as a commodity than it really is. I wrote a comment on the site invoking another Heideggerian concept of “letting be”. How far do we have to deconstruct things? Does every capitalist structure have to be analyzed as a power game that reduces everything to commodification? I recalled the efforts of a Marxist friend to do his own dental work with store bought epoxy so as to avoid participating in the Capitalist system by going to a dentist. However, this article nonetheless helped me understand the topos of the gallery, when it became an issue in the show at Kimball Jenkins whose exhibition space was funky to say the least. Some viewers complained about its lack of neutrality and the compromising of the work of several artists, whose work would have been better showcased by white walls. Whether it is a capitalist conspiracy or not the topography of a gallery does have a say in how we interact with the exhibited object.
“Hyperallergic” recently published a review of a book on Thomas Kinkade and his demise. It appears that he was a simple sort of guy who tried to peddle his work at country art fairs until he fell into the hands of shysters who turned him into a nationwide purveyor of schlock. Sort of like Koons’s kitsch but without the irony. (Koons has yet to open up franchises selling his work or put little koonsies in a McDonald Happy Meal).  I started thinking of his scenery of quaint country cottages as a notion of the topos of family and security. The smoke rising from the chimney, the calm of a setting sun bathing the scene in a warmish light. This was a mood that mattered to him. And those who bought the work needed that story and sentiment as well. When I drive to Concord NH from Portsmouth on Route 4 there is a stretch of road midway that goes through a state forest. A mountain stream and white pines and hemlocks sidle up to the road to create a very bucolic setting. Just before this environment comes to an end and the commercial sprawl that typifies the rest of the road recommences there is the view of a lone antique farmhouse across the river. It is as idyllic as a Thomas Kinkade or a Claude Lorrain for that matter. For a moment it seems that to live there would be to live happily ever after.
Thomas Kinkade
The topoi of our modern world have long left that sentiment far behind, ever since the Enclosure Acts abolished the yeomanry of England sending the poor to work in “the dark satanic mills”. The appearance of the past lingers on in New England where you can jump back several centuries surrounded by the rural past of countless New England villages. I once worked on a conservation commission with a woman who bemoaned the disintegration of the Maine town where we lived into urban sprawl using the word yeomanry to describe the people who lived in those majestic Maine farmhouses that still dotted the landscape. Even a place as close to Boston as Marblehead is a time warp of epoch proportions where the rest of the world could easily drop away as you lose yourself in the time of Nathanael Hawthorne. To continue my thesis, these topologies are the remnants of once lived realities that historically minded people have succeeded in preserving. But the topoi of the present awaits us on the highways engineered to allow cars to drive at incredible speeds and surrounded by malls and fast food outlets. 

The first job I had teaching was at a private prep school where I taught among other classes a course on architecture. I had no training at all in the subject but my interest in perceptual issues allowed me to discuss reasonably well how architecture constructed space and time. It helped that the textbook we used by Charles Moore discussed those issues as well. Once I took the students on a field trip to Boston to visit several buildings of interest to the course. The students seemed intent on making a pit stop at McDonald’s. I agreed to do it only if they did a space/time analysis of the experience. In our discussion we observed that the reality of Mac Do’s was totally dependent on the car and a notion of time, which engaged a rapid turnover of customers. Lots of customers out on errands in their cars with no time to sit down for a meal consuming factory produced food that could be prepared and consumed in the twinkling of an eye. It is a very tight feedback loop. The goal was to squeeze as many customers into the shortest time span possible. The interaction of parts created a topology that went far beyond the moment of the purchase of the food. Factory farms for the sandwich contents, factory production to process it and factory distribution within the restaurant. All consumed sitting in your factory made car. Here again Heidegger provides the wonderful notion of enframement, i.e. you are trapped!

I was perusing the catalog of the “Forever Now” (Painting in an atemporal world) show at MoMA at a bookstore in New York on a Sunday before I had to head home to the New Hampshire woods. The first thought that came to my mind upon reading it was something that Peter Schjeldahl picked up on in his “New Yorker “ article on the show: much of the work is derivative of the Neo-Expressionism of the 80’s. There is a shallow attempt in the catalog article to put the burden of the work’s meaning on the influence of the internet and its sense of the atemporal by resurrecting the writer William Gibson who wrote about the early days of the web, when the novelty of cyberspace still reigned. Putting aside the references to the internet, I tried to get my head around the notion of almost forty years of painting stylistically the same. For me the title and the work evoked existential nausea as it proclaims: there is no escape from this art (to use the title of Sartre’s play) which will linger on forever and ever. Amen! The notion of the atemporal once evoked a sense of eternal values worthy of surviving the flux of the human condition. The strategy of these artists is to engage in a notion of time that is eternally uniform. It reminds me of something I recall in philosophy of a negative notion of time made up of a repetition of “nows”. Lived time is full of tragic reversals and magical overcomings. In this work there is no agonic attempt to surpass the masters: just abstract gesture that is endlessly deconstructed tongue in cheek.  
"Carlotta" Charlene von Heyl 2013

Sharon Butler once quoted Beckett to me after a lecture she gave at MECA: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better” in order to explain the intellectual underpinnings of Provisional/Casualist painting. From Beckett’s point of view the self that imagines that its constructs of reality can shape the real is a false self. An authentic self is one that accepts the distance between self-construct and the real. One that is set up for failure a priori. The romantic whose self -image expands to engulf the real is embodied in the sadist Pozzo in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” who tortures the not so lucky, Lucky. Pozzo is the image of Western man created in the Baroque that imposed an economy of slavery and exploitation upon the world based on a metaphysical confidence grounded in an eternal God. Didi and Gogo are the embodiment of contemporary man who is not sure of his goals and bereft of the metaphysical underpinnings of the past. We are always going to fall short or fall bad.  But it is one thing to attempt meaning and fail; it is totally different to assume failure and couch your work in a feigned sense of futility. Or not to allow any meaning at all as the Zombie Formalists assert. But what kind of meaning do you want? The work of the modernist has a positive meaning with its faith in science and a clear sense of the subject/self or its reversion to the chthonic symbolism of the pagan. But isn’t the irony of this irony that somewhere once upon a time there was a kind of painting that was too authoritative for this new eternity of weak painting to exist at all. In its insistence on irony it keeps blocking any chance of a new language of time and space. It is a kind of negative religion, a negative eternity from which we can’t escape with its own rituals that any good MFA student can learn.

It seems that history is divided into periods that are transformative of human nature and those where the transformations are digested or put in question. Without a doubt the 20thc was an era where the Human was transformed into a rational animal disabused of any notion of the individual as a separate entity with his or her own space and time. So what are we to do with it? I know the post-modernist goal is to abandon the scientific/rational self that creates experimental events on canvas that reveal the mechanical shape of reality as a tight part/whole rule based relationship. Its practice can be seen in the work of Mondrian, Stella, Judd and Serra among others that populate the modernist pantheon. As its rules penetrate deeper and deeper into the fabric of society it is no longer the hard nuts and bolts of the factory that Chaplin mocked in Modern Times but the technological precision of the Internet that infiltrates our very reality. Maybe this is the domain of the Zombie Formalists. It is no longer an issue of creating the rational man but of dissolving mankind altogether into rationality. The Provisional painters try to humanize abstraction, make it vulnerable therefore corroborating Butler’s contention of having its roots in Beckett.
Lucian Smith 2012 "Two Sides of the Same Coin"

It is no surprise to me that abstraction has had a revival. The avant-garde seems ever confident that every new critique of society will have a welcoming audience. The latest Koons’ extravaganza I believe left a bad taste in the collective unconscious of the public. My response was pretty much: So what! Warhol already covered that territory with sharper nihilistic wit. The need to jump over years of pop, concept and installation art back to abstraction seems akin to someone who has had a schizophrenic break and tries desperately to regain the world before the split, when things were whole. Is the attempt to return to the garden also generated by a fear of the unknown, which is now so great that we feel apprehensive about turning our back on the pinnacle of American art (AbEx promoted by the CIA as the best America had to offer during the Cold War) lest we no longer recognize who we are? But we can’t recreate its greatness, just as we no longer have our parent’s self-assuredness. We are neither the mothers nor fathers who built the modern industrial state for which modernism was the topos. Either we use abstraction ironically or pathetically (with pathos), or expunge any remnant of the self and let art blend into technology by destroying the boundaries of the human and the machine. Any hermeneutic to go back is doomed to miss the essence of the past. Contemporary abstraction is caught in a twisted embrace with Modernism which ever escapes its hold and retreats further and further into the past. How much longer will we  limp along in this contorted topology, that knows vaguely where it came from but for sure does not know where it is going. 

Martin Mugar

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Autonomy and Hypertext" A report from "Lighting out for the Territory" based on seeing the paintings up close and real

I am currently showing my work art Belmont Hill School in the Landau Gallery until the 28th of September 2017. The opening is from 11 to 2 pm on the 23rd of September.The address is 350 Prospect St, Belmont,MA.  I think that this essay may also be helpful in understanding my work.

#81 2017 48"x42"

My blog post on ”Lighting out for Territory “ was written based on images sent me by the participating artists. Since seeing the work all together and sharing discussions with the artists at the opening, I feel compelled to rethink what I wrote. My thesis was to see the artists acknowledging Minimalism but taking it to a new spot colored by a more complex notion of humanity. I think that I have been beating this drum in previous blogs so that the cumulative effect is both tedious and distracting from exactly what these artist’s are doing.

shift in opinion started when Paul Pollaro told me that he observed a certain will to autonomy in my work. It was evidenced by how I assume control at all levels of my painting of what the paint does, which to his eye, seemed to push aside any lingering attachment to the object. He said, most artists leave the static object somewhere in their work. It lingers there as the remnant of the real, the world of the sitcom that I referred to in the "ConcordMonitor" piece. Probably why I always liked sailing. Reality is a nexus of force and resistance and constant reconsideration of how to balance them, not a stationary thing. The self is always in the middle of things. There is no object/subject split.

#92 2020

The truth of that idea seemed reinforced by emails I received from two artists in New York about my work, one a former student.(Ellie Pyle) Both responded enthusiastically to the introduction of empty space in my work. One thought it came from a sense of what lived beyond the object. She (Mary
Salstrom)said it could be the void or what she said the Chinese call Ma. I recall discovering that as a revelation when I observed a Southern Sung painting at the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas City use of the blank paper. I marveled at how the reality of a lake was created by the placement of a boat. Or fog in the trees was created by the manipulation of values in the trees. In both cases this resulted in the expanded notion of the object after it engaged the void. The boat created the water and the trees create the mist. The one engages the whole. There are no isolated objects.

Jason’s work close up required adjustments in my understanding of his work. There was one work that played romanticism off of minimalism. But in “Flotsam” the minimalist part of the painting was of such a pitch of darkness and off-putting texture to convey an emotion akin to anxiety. It brought to mind what Heidegger thought about moods in general and the mood of anxiety in particular.

Simon Critchley says the following about how Heidegger considers anxiety ;

“Anxiety is the first experience of our freedom, as a freedom from things and other people. It is a freedom to begin to become myself. Anxiety is the philosophical mood par excellence; it is the experience of detachment from things and from others where I can begin to think freely for myself.”

Anxiety is a precursor to autonomy.On the other hand there is also a sort of negative dialectic that Adorno postulated, where opposites sit side by side without being subsumed into a whole.There is an anti-Hegelian trope in Jason's work.An autonomy that leaves things linked like hypertext without imposing a resolution.If there is a resolution it exists outside of the canvas.

Addison Parks

This will to autonomy asserts itself in Addison’s placement of the bold gestures in front of the square shapes. A statement about the self-in-the-world being more important than the products of the mind.

Susan’s heightened brush movement reworks the gestures as though she wishes to remove any remnant of the recognizable even the memory of the stroke. Her thrust seems to be captured in the phrase from the Prajnaparamita:”Gone, Gone, Gone, utterly beyond.”

Pollaro’s latest work considers autonomy as existing in the world of hypertext, a world that is created by putting different definitions side by side. On the one hand for Paul reality is functioning in the chthonic world of  time before the advent of the Gods of Olympus, which introduced the clarity of laws and science. On the other hand his painting acknowledges the significance of that new world which does not supplant the titans so much as function in a sort of symbiosis. As in Jason's work the solution of these two worlds exists beyond the painting.


The more I delve into these issues, the notion of time and its relation to the canvas begin to perplex me. Instead of the harsh self-referentiality of Modernism, the paintings in this show seem to imply a synthesis somewhere other than in the works themselves.In the beyond in time or the utterly beyond of the prajna paramita.

Link to a blog that addresses notions of time in the "Forever Now" at MoMA