Follow by Email

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


  1. Garnered this from a nice conversation with Carl Belz on FB.

    "Newman doesn't seem to be in favor in the climate of provisional abstraction. I saw recently, I can't remember where, a reference to current art as post-utopian--so, good by to the high road and all that. I get annoyed by the misconception of modernism that it's based upon progress, particularly when it comes from a hipster voice that presumptuously tosses around terms like post-utopian in the process of promoting a more "advanced" art."

  2. I think that this show would compare favorably with the MOMA show,written evocatively about in the New Yorker:

  3. The role of an idea that shapes the work whether a positivist/scientistic view or that of the void is lacking everywhere in the art world. I noticed an artist whose work is being shown in the NE area in various venues that involves the slathering of murky paint on the gallery walls. It may be all the millennials are capable of is derived from heavy metal over the top notions of self expression.Ideas involve a stepping back to let something other than the will of raw self expression take the the lead. It implies a humility in the face of something other than the ego in society.