Friday, October 24, 2008


Treat the given visual and physical features of drawing and painting (line, surface, paper, color, canvas, stretcher, graphite, paint, etc.) as terms in a lexicon, as objects, as things. Look at these as things neutrally. Neither reject them nor elevate them. Do not eliminate obvious ones from consideration. Do not seek obscure ones or invent a proliferation of new ones. Take them as distilled concretions of complex cultural discourses around art (including histories of: technical and material processes developed over time, processes of discovery, trial and error, and refinement of perceptual factors, elaboration in critical discourse, uses of such forms as building blocks toward different kinds of meaning [as rhetorical fragments], etc.) Examine them, handle them with skepticism. Realign them, open them up. Let them contradict or work at cross purposes. See them outside their normal rhetorical roles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


click image to enlarge
Certain of my paintings are inspired by the Sienese Renaissance John the Baptist paintings at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. This fifteenth century painting cycle by Giovanni Di Paolo is composed of eccentric, complex, highly patterned spaces, through which an episodic narrative runs, relating the iconography of John’s story. In the first panel, the youthful figure of John enters on lower left, and then reappears at upper right of the same painting (in a so-called continuous narrative) turning away to disappear into the wilderness. (This image is also seen in Giovanni’s horizontal version of this painting at the National Gallery in London, shown above. In that case, two side panels flank the image, each depicting a blossoming flower on a long stem, turned to face away from the viewer. This detail of the London version is in fact the original seed of my interest in this string of metaphors in Giovanni Di Paolo's painting.) In the Chicago panel depicting St. John in prison (ninth panel of the original set of twelve, third of the partial sequence present in Chicago), the older, haggard-looking John appears in an inset-like frame-within-a-frame; he appears looking out through the bars of a cell where he is captive. The spatial and physical aspect of this situation is emphasized. His image tends toward consonance with the picture plane, placing the highly articulated bars slightly in front, screening (dramatizing, frustrating) our view of him. In Chicago’s fifth panel, we are returned to the same spatial setting, a view of John’s jail from the outside, but now the lower bars have been tangibly pulled aside (the mechanism is shown), John’s body has been pulled forward through the window (into our space?), and he has been beheaded (silenced).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Withdrawal of judgment:

d & G sketch, 10-2008, Digital. Ken Weathersby
click image to enlarge