Archive for May 5th, 2023

GC Myers-- Archaeology: Executor

Archaeology: Executor— Coming to Principle Gallery

Archaeology is rather like a vast, fiendish jigsaw puzzle invented by the devil as an instrument of tantalizing torment, since: (a) it will never be finished (b) you don’t know how many pieces are missing (c) most of them are lost forever (d) you can’t cheat by looking at the picture.

–Paul Bahn, Bluff Your Way in Archaeology, 1989

This is a new Archaeology painting that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my upcoming solo exhibit there next month. Titled Archaeology: Executor, it is 24″ by 8″ on canvas.

The Archaeology series has been one of the most popular since it was first introduced back in 2008. In the past decade I have only painted a few of these pieces for a variety of reasons. But I decided late last year that I would create a small number of new pieces from this series for this show.

One of the reasons these pieces have been in short supply is that they are difficult to paint. I don’t mean that in the technical sense, except in that they are time consuming with all their little details and such.

No, they are difficult because they present a challenge to my own curiosity. In the earliest examples from the series, I could easily fill the layers of artifacts with little thought as to what was there or how one artifact related to another or what tale they might tell in their jigsaw manner of storytelling.

But as I painted more of these pieces, I began to think about the artifacts and how they related to each other and what story they might be telling. As a result, painting these pieces became even more time consuming because I pondered and weighed each artifact a little more.

And all this additional thinking was off putting.

I know that sounds odd. You would think an artist would want to claim that everything that appears in their work is of their design, a product of their thought process. But early on in this series, I found that the appeal of it for me was the fact that I could just start painting with a minimum of thought, in a kind of stream of consciousness, and that it would produce a pile of jigsaw pieces waiting for someone else to put them all together. Some future archaeologists of art, maybe a kid in a gallery seeing a story come together in their imagination from the disparate pieces.

And that process of just allowing the subconscious to do its thing worked well.

But in trying to work on newer Archaeology pieces over the years, I found that I was trying to make out the story as I was painting. I was putting myself in the place of an archaeologist thinking of what they should find rather than just accepting and reading what they did find.  It was frustrating and often kept me from starting or finishing new pieces.

However, I might be past that now. With the this and a few other recent Archaeology pieces, I seem to have adapted the process. I find that they begin slowly– too much thinking!– but if I can get past a certain point and let my mind wander off on its own somewhere else, it all begins to fall into place.

Well, into whatever place puzzle pieces fall when thrown into a pile.

Do they tell a story? Sure, as much a story as the imaginative mind can glean from found odd bits and pieces. And since each imagination is unique each story will most likely be different in most every way.

And this open-ended way storytelling, that every viewer can see something completely different in them, is one attraction of these pieces for me.

I am still reading the artifacts from this piece. Obviously a primitive culture…

Here’s one of those rare songs about archaeology. This is The Archaeologist from Heather Nova.

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