In a book on the British painter Ken Kiff, the author refers to Art as a ‘species of Philosophy.’ I like this but wonder if there is more nuance. I think of what I do as a species of Philosophy, or sometimes a mutant relative of Linguistics, or sibling of literature. Seen from a certain angle, Painting could be considered a ‘species of Interior Design.’ Grouping like that helps me stay clear of the vortex of seeing one medium as in competition with another.
When I was in Glasgow, Painting was of no consequence, but Video Installation was of vital importance, now Social Practices (which could be seen as a ‘species of Activism’) is making Video Installation look like basket-weaving, and Painting is no longer a threat. Activism is seen as morally superior to intellectual pursuits now – not to mention the collecting of art objects – so Art that engages social issues and justice is at the top of the wheel for the moment. Will be interesting to watch the Art establishments domesticate Social Practices; reminds me of that quote from Octavio Paz: “More astute than Rome, the religion of art has absorbed all schisms.”
The above drawing: I made a note to myself and then did it, right there on the same page. Rare that happens in life.
Before exit 70 on the interstate that runs the length of Kansas there is a series of signs tempting one to pull off and admire the “incredible six-legged steer.” I just came across some notes I had drawn while driving (I know) and worked them up into more developed drawings. Maybe interesting for those who follow the Wastrels saga on this page, clearly the genesis of the eight-leg deer . . .
The next few drawings are of related oddities of beast at the same exit.
8″ x 10″
This is a process drawing for the animation that is nearly finished called “Wastrels Find a Home.” A hopeful tale. Or something. In which Bookoo and Cilice tinker within the domestic arrangement. With exquisite writing and voice-over by Kate Bernheimer and forthcoming (and eagerly awaited audio) forthcoming from the Eric Jordan.
8″ x 9 1/2″
My nephews recently made a stop-motion animation of a lego space man which they called “Adventures of Red Guy.” I aspire to such simplicity; “Red Guy” says it all. This is a different Red Guy, less spaceman, more prancing interloper. I have a feeling he’s a figment of Bookoo and Cilice’s shared imagination.
8 1/2″ x 11″
This was made in preparation for a class I’m teaching called “Drawing the Myth and Daydream.” The prompt involves picking a setting (in this case ‘under water’), a figure or animal (I did several), and a state of being (I chose ‘breaking into pieces’). I think I should have made it more obviously under water. Other states of being to chose from include: floating, flaming, blooming with flowers, tiny, covered in hair, dissolving, enormous, winged, and part-human/part-animal. The first class was highly enjoyable.
5 1/2″ x 9″
Not the first time I’ve indulged a crackpot understanding of linguistics this year on the Workaday page. Bookoo’s lingering in the mirror stage.
“Writings scatter to the winds blank checks in an insane charge. And were they not such flying leaves, there would be no purloined letters.” – Jacques Lacan
4″ x 6″
Español: Colón llega a América
English: Christoper Columbus arrives in America
Deutsch: Christoph Kolumbus trifft in Amerika ein
Русский: Христофор Колумб прибывает в Америку
Français: Christophe Colomb arrive en Amérique
Italiano: Cristoforo Colombo arriva in America
Česky: Kryštof Kolumbus připlouvá do Ameriky
8″ x 9 1/2″
This one here is akin to an oxbow lake. That’s when a river goes from a meandering path to a straighter path and the curly crazy bit turns into a lake and the river takes a shorter route… I’m not explaining this right… here’s a diagram… oxbows are weird-shaped formations evidence of a previous flow-pattern. Such a useful concept.
Anyway, I’m making images for Kate Bernheimer’s new novel (will be a lot lot of images that I will post eventually) and in the process of trying to find the right approach, I made a whole mountain of images that will not work for the book, most are perfectly dreadful. One or two I think are interesting in their own way, oxbow style, and this is one I like. The title comes from a note I took while researching for this book, I think it was a titles of an obscure depression-era cartoon.
approx. 20″ x 24″
It could be that Bookoo and Cilice are made of marzipan here. Or else Bookoo is dying of consumption, the kind the Victorians used to love; I’m hoping for the former.
In Henri Murger’s Scènes de la Vie de Bohème (1850), the main character Francine — a ‘typecast fictional consumptive’ according to the author of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine — has “a rosy tint to her skin, transparent with the whiteness of a camellia” and later “a saintly glow, as if she had died of beauty.” A beauty so rare and delicate that it destroys itself with its own amazing-ness: how exhausting. But the Wastrels can be maudlin like that.
The odd shape is the result of finding tons of scrap mat board, a love of composites, and looking at Jeffery Camp paintings.
9″ x 12″
The year was twisted like a towel. Monstrous forearms grabbing and twisting, grabbing and twisting. That is how the year got to be only nine and a half months long. Metastasis, the changing of position, state or form. The eighty-ninth of May.
Here we see the Wastrels covered in hair. Maybe they have had an encounter with the wildman seen so much in old manuscripts. Or maybe Cilice has taken his hairshirt one step too far.
9″ x 12″
A virga is a column of rain that sweeps out of a cloud and evaporates before it reaches the ground. Here one appears with an aqueduct as the children explore what may be a Roman village. I woke up with De Chirico in mind, but this drawing, like a virga is just a wisp.
11″ x 14″
I am not afraid of being sick, but of losing my body entirely. Misplacing it, and having to go without. Like any of the ghosts we hear about, the ones from the movies and our imaginations, they can see things, but cannot be seen. Cannot touch or be touched because they have no mass, only invisible vapour. I fear my body rolling away from me, like a coat button, under the radiator. I would have no fingers to reach for it, and no way to use an impliment to retrieve it. And no voice to call for help from a friend or loved one.
6″ x 8″
Autodidact: a self-taught person. To teach oneself. Happily bringing this word more into my vocabulary, thanks to Tim Hyman for reminding me of it. And according to Webster’s online, “Autodidact” rhymes with: cutthroat contract, matter-of-fact, and semi-abstract. So it does.
And thanks to Frankie for telling me last night that the etymology of “autopsy” is to see for oneself.
9″ x 12″
Seraphim: the “burning ones”, four heads and six wings – two to cover the face, two to cover the heart and two to cover the feet (aka: genitalia). If you look directly at them your eyes burn by their brightness. According to some theological thought, Gabriel was a Seraphim, which makes the Annunciation an even more intense scenario.
8″ x 10″
Also maybe titled “Scourged by Yellow Fever”, a line taken from my great great grandfather’s diary, written about his childhood during the Civil War in Mississippi. The tiny little coffin on the seat of the carriage, and so forth. Might need to see this in the enlargement, it’s a light-handed drawing.
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