Friday, November 5, 2010

Thesis Exhibition Proposal/Angry Rant

I intend to have a series of related paintings.  This seems rather obvious as I am a painting major.  My focus and my desire have been to paint glass for the past several years.  I think it’s fitting that my senior thesis culminates in paintings of glass.  For four years the reception of this idea has been both poor and good.  There always seems to be some question as to why anyone would want to paint still life. Nearly every time, when given the option I will paint glass. And very often this has been dismissed. My final projects have been assumed to be some kind of introductory class assignment. I am constantly pushed in one direction or another to paint what others conceive as a path with more options.  I enjoy painting landscapes. I enjoy painting figuratively.  I have even enjoyed painting abstractly. I have. But still life is the only thing I’ve painted that I feel like I have to keep defending.  It’s not merely defense of a painting, but defense of an entire genre. Am I honestly expected to meet this challenge? My first oil painting was seven years ago. For the last five years of that time I have met with only occasional encouragement for the path that I want to pursue. My work cannot defend itself.  I have only just begun my exploration. At every step I am tempted to say “Morandi did it!” and lock myself away. But I yield to comments. I explore other options. I try to placate. I paint abstractly. I look for ways to relate painting to my study of physics. I try to find other elements of interest for people. I’ll modify my style and see where that takes me. I’ll paint something different and see where that takes me. Time after time I abandon what I really want to do because the grass may be greener. And time after time I return to glass.  Perhaps I’ll have expanded my technique. Perhaps I’ll see something different. But nearly every time my return is a quest for salvation, for a return to peace, for something that I understand and can explore happily.  But that is not the case. I am forced to look at my work with new eyes and question “why this, why that?” I return cynical and discouraged.        Eventually I remember that the whole point is that I enjoy looking. I like imagining the light curving until it meets my eye. When light hits glass it interacts with the particles that make up the glass. The light bounces back and forth between the particles, being absorbed and released. On the visible level this results in the path the light bending. When it finally reaches my eyes it is focused onto cells which have evolved to stop sending signals to my brain should they bit hit by certain wavelengths. These certain wavelengths are of course determined by the microscopic structure of these cells and their ability to absorb light is done is created by the same mechanism of the glass. When these cells stop signaling my brain my brain is given a lot of information. The wavelengths are translated into colors. The intensity is translated into brightness. This forms an image. This image is processed into things I recognize or things I don’t recognize. All of these processes are transmitted by the same mechanism as the light through the glass. Of course this is a simplification. One cannot say what happens during any of these interactions. One can only see the results. One cannot be sure if the particles one is referring to are “real” or if they’re just useful tools for guessing what will happen on an observable level. No one truly understands how or why anything we see can be seen or perceived. Should I paint abstractly?   Nothing that humans have ever imagined is stranger than nature. Should I relate my paintings to physics?  I paint as part of an exploration of the natural world. My current area of focus is glass. To exhibit anything else for my final thesis would be untrue to myself. I intend to fill the space provided to me with paintings of glass. I don’t know why I needed to write so much explain that.
Morandi did it.

1 comment:

RavenQ42 said...

I love the structure of your written rants. They lack the theatrics and gestures of your rants in person, but are beautiful in their own right. :)

I gotta say, I gather that the painter you mentioned must be of some serious fame and talent for you to call to him as your justification, but from your strike me as a better painter :) Perhaps its just a layman's eye can't appreciate his work, but conversely, yours is completely accessible, as far as I can tell.
Upon viewing it, the beauty you encountered when you saw that reflection on a piece of glass, copper, or whatever else you found becomes apparent to the viewer as further refracted by your personal lens. You once told me "No one looking at the same glass, even if at the same angle, would paint what I see in it" And I think this is invariably true, so, when we look upon your paintings, you grant us access to your unique vision of that piece. It is too sad that you have to justify your final thesis so staunchly, but if I might chime into the idea of it, I've always thought your best work was always formed out of the interplay between your various crafts and capabilities. The Hand you crafted to carry a mirror- molded from the shape of your own hand, that system of mirrors that lead to a central object- only visible through a dozen or so reflections, etc. I also like your abstract things, but especially love the "abstracts" you portray in the "average" things you encounter. Don't be too dissuaded by critics of your concept because they haven't seen the wealth of things you can produce by "just painting still glass." It's always been your goal to wow the world with the regular, everyday beauty they've always been missing. Don't falter on that goal :D
It's always worth it.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas and seeing your finished works :D