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Posts Tagged ‘Marcel Proust’

"New World Passage"-- At the West End Gallery



We don’t receive wisdom we must discover it for ourselves.

― Marcel Proust



This painting, New World Passage, was one of those paintings that started as an idea quite some time ago. Late last autumn, in fact.

It was started with forest trees and dark rolls of land that dominate the foreground, creating almost a fence through which one would look forward. I loved the first efforts on it with the rich blues and magenta having a gemlike feel. The process at that point was all about painting the negative space, trying to balance colors and forms in the narrow slots between the trees to create something more than mere background.

It was at this stage that I ran out of steam. Actually, it was more fear than fatigue. I felt this was a deserving piece, one that was filled with some great unknown and still unseen potential at that point. I just didn’t feel up to moving forward on it out of the fear that my desire to see it finished would cause me to be hasty in my decisions which could easily drain it of all possibility.

It could sink dully back to earth instead of following the life arc I imagined for it. My thinking was that by not trying to finish it, its potential would always be there. Unfulfilled, of course. But there.

So, it sat for months and months. I kept telling myself that I would just finish it one of these days  and would count it among the pieces allotted for my annual show at the Principle Gallery. I missed that deadline, putting it off and saying that it was okay, I would just move it to the West End show. But as the months passed and the West End Gallery show came into form, this painting still sat unfinished in the studio. Its presence was almost aggravating because it served as a reminder of my cowardice and uncertainty.

It taunted me up until the final day that I had allotted for painting before moving on to final touches and framing for this show. I felt time constrained and anxious but made the decision that on that day, this painting would either live or die. I still wasn’t sure where it was going behind that fence line of trees but I dove in.

At first, the small amount of sky was going to be pale to let the deep tones shine off of the lighter background. But after doing a bit, I hated the look. It actually felt like it was sapping away the vibrance of the trees’ colors. I amped up the color, going to the Indian Yellow with hints of red and orange through it that has been my friend and companion for decades now. 

It felt right. It pushed the blues and purples and magentas up further. I added the house as destination, an end point to which the path headed.

Then I added the sun.

I wanted it there as compositional balance but the pale light one that I began with did nothing for the painting. It made the whole thing, even with the vibrant colors, feel bland. I wanted something that made it feel like this was path leading to something unknown, a trail to a strange new place.

Thus, the red sun.

It felt right immediately. No warming up to its presence was needed. It made everything come together. It felt like passing through the common known– just a few trees, fields and hills– to suddenly find yourself in a world you don’t completely recognize or understand. It looks familiar but it feels different., like you are sensing things at a higher level of awareness or comprehension.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. It has the life I had felt it might possess. I was glad that I waited because I don’t think this end point was yet there when I first thought about finishing it. It– and I– wasn’t ready to move on to a new world yet.



New World Passage is an 18″ by 24″ painting on panel that is part of Through the Trees, my new solo exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY. The show opens this Friday, July 16, with an opening reception from 4-7 PM but you can see it beforehand. 

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

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This painting is titled To the Fields of Fortune. It’s one of those pieces that I to which I personally respond strongly. Maybe it’s the mood I feel from it or simply a chemical reaction to the juxtaposition of colors, forms and contrasts. Who really knows what truly causes a visceral reaction to art or music?

But the meaning that I attach to this painting has some influence on my reaction. I call these type of paintings my Acres of Diamonds pieces alluding to a story that I have replayed here a few times over the years. It is basically a tale of a farmer who sells his land and heads out, seeking to find his fortune in diamonds. He travels all over for years in his fuitle search, failing at each attempt until he ultimately takes his own life. Meanwhile, his original homestead turned out to be the location of the biggest diamond mine in Africa, where this story takes place.

What he sought was right beneath him all the time, if only he had taken the time to see what he had at hand.

And isn’t that too often the case with many of us? We believe that the grass is always greener elsewhere, making us think we need to seek far and wide when what we really need is with us, sometimes within us, all the time. As the author Marcel Proust states above, the real voyage of discovery comes in having new eyes to see what is already all around us.

There are diamonds waiting for us to simply bend down and pick them up, if only our eyes will see.

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This piece, along with a few other newer paintings, will be headed to the West End Gallery within the next few days.

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Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.

 Marcel Proust

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A few days back I featured a new small painting that is headed to the West End Gallery for next week’s opening of their annual Little Gems show. That piece, and never looked back…, was a stark image in tones of black and gray that was about the idea of being forced from your home, never to return. It’s a depiction of that moment of leaving and the sense of loss and abandonment that remains.

The new painting above, also headed to the Little Gems show, is another take on the idea of abandoning one’s home. This piece, One Last Look, speaks to the nostalgia that appears after time, as memories of bad times and the accompanying anxieties have faded and singular moments of happiness have grown to fill all the moments of that time.  Time has smoothed away the rough edges and we begin to think that that time, that place, was much more idyllic than it ever was in actuality.

To me, this painting speaks to that nostalgia and its idealized sense of home and youth. With nostalgia, the past seems more vivid and vibrant.

The grass was greener then, I guess.

I am reminded of a post I wrote back in 2009 where a large poll taken at that time throughout Russia named Joseph Stalin as the third greatest Russian of all time. I wrote: Despite the many millions, yes, millions of Russian citizens who were put to death by Stalin, despite the political purges and gulags and Soviet policies that caused a type of artificial famine that killed far more citizens than any natural famine more than once, the current populace said that this Man of Steel was their guy.

Some of those polled had lived through the Stalin era but time, and a little more food and comfort now, had eroded the memory of the hardship, the famines and the purges. In fact, Putin had began extolling the virtues of Stalin about that time and many of these people felt the country needed that type of autocratic leader again. In Putin, they– and, unfortunately, we as well– may have found him.

We all often fall prey to this sort of nostalgia, our memories holding onto a few events of happy triumph here and there through time and discarding the much more numerous days and weeks and months of chaos or drudgery that many of us live through.

Nostalgia is like a beautiful double-edged sword– both wonderful and terrible. Such things should be handled with care.

 

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Presence

Presence

 

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.

— Marcel Proust

 

There’s truth in this.  Everything seems changed and fresh when looked at from a different perspective.  New eyes.

The difficulty comes in shedding the obscuring blindness caused by our own judgements, prejudices and self-righteousness.  

How can one obtain these new eyes?

How difficult is it to say that my point of view may not be always right, that there are other facets beyond mine in the prism that makes up this world?

Is that beyond me, beyond us?

 

 

 


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