"A portrait is not an identificative paper but rather the curve of an emotion" -James Joyce

Monday, March 25, 2013


     I met with Hannah Barrett for the second time,  on a Sunday afternoon in the AIB studios which were completely empty.  I brought the four paintings above with me.  We discussed scale and size, the diptychs are actually a slightly different size from each other.  I remember reading Motherwell say that "amounts are important to painters."  Without fully understanding this comment I understood it.  We talked about the grouping of the work, and it's striking first impression in comparison to the more subdued stuff we viewed together last time. Hannah pointed out the increased tension in the painting that may be visually due to the black and the higher amount of contrast between the heavily painted areas and those seemingly left. This was an area that we agreed could be exploited further.
     In discussing the the features of the sitters, or the lack thereof in some cases, Hannah brought up some interesting points.  That this black line creates this premise, as does the missing features.  One that becomes less noticeable once the premise is excepted.  It reminded me of Delacroix's comments about drawing specifically about  contour being absent in nature.  I liked this idea of built visual expectations, and the fulfillment of them. There seems to be room to play with this idea more as well.
     We discussed the austerity of the figures, the generic airiness of them, and the relationship that they have with the more obviously abstract elements of the work.  Abstraction as a topic was kicked around, it's support of the image, and the relationship between the paint and the idea of the painting.  It is quite a balancing act and a fragile one at that.  Things never seem abstract while I am painting.
     Overall I felt that Hannah was very good at recognizing what things about my work were central to who I am, the non-negotiables if you will.  She was equally as good at getting me to thing about what things I am willing to change, allow, or abandon.  Lastly we discussed the triple portrait that I see happening in this work, as it relates directly to the plasticity of the paint.  What attracted me to the idea of these paintings was the relationship between the two people, and mine to them.  There is a very underhanded crisis, or tempered frenzy as I see it.  A psychological negotiation, or posturing.  Those are the people I am painting.  Up close, the subject takes on a less literal face.  It is the story of me, the making of these things, my own personal crisis.  The third portrait is that of the material itself.  A portrait of paint.  The action should match the feeling in my view, like color.  Touch and color are so intuitive.  When asked how I choose color, I am usually at a loss for words.  I try not to choose it when possible.

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