My Words

Understanding the World through words

Tag: painting

Reflection On Art, Part I

Ever since my days as an art student I’ve been grappling with the ideas surrounding the making of art. Mind you, I submitted myself to a genre of art with very purist tendencies, mainly painting. The majority of the professors who taught that discipline were purist in the sense that they practiced and taught painting and eschewed its values and virtues far above all other disciplines found at my school.

As a student, I embraced that strength. I became a neophyte in the art of painting; and I regurgitated its core values in a modernist way, naively. I say naively, because retrospectively I’ve since outgrown that myopic view. I can no longer accept the benighted reality of transcendence in painting, as the ultimate form of artistic expression. In fact, in my senior year at my art school, I was already bucking the system. I was making “constructions”, art out of found objects on traditional wall hanging platforms. I was experimenting with concrete, lead, steal, mesh wire and all sorts of construction grade materials. In a artistic sense, I was finding my way, internally, I was conflicted.

I loved painting and I understood the progressive historical reality of it, yet I was beginning to see its limitations as a stand alone medium. The art world in itself was being questioned by my peers. The bastions of art; the museum, the art galleries, and even the stark white walls found in them were all being questioned. Were these spaces the final resting places for art? Do we want to as artist, perpetuate the inevitable by participating in a predetermined ritual of making art so it can be showcased in these white sepulcher walls? How do we make art that’s not confined to artistic predetermination? How do we make art that is more accessible to the masses? These were some of the heavy questions we were all struggling with.

Then, there was the questions of style, figurative, nonfigurative, one did not mix both. It seemed that purity, a modernist conception, was being pass down at my school heavy handedly. Even though, we were all well aware of the postmodern inroads in art. The fact was that our more staunch tenured professors were still carrying the modernist torch and passing it down to there more treasured students. I was one of them. I was older than most of the students having come in after military service. Consequently, I was one of the more devoted students because I was paying my way through, I wanted to be there and they appreciated that and my maturity.

Postmodernist artist like Gerhard Richter were blowing up modernist conventions by purposefully painting figurative, nonfigurative art. Secretly, he was my hero, his manipulation and mastery of both styles were unquestionable as a painter. Even so, he did not attack the notions of modernist art space, those white walled tombs, were art had it’s final resting place. To this day, I don’t know if it can be done in that medium?

After graduation my small circle of friends went in different directions. I went to study graduate philosophy and poetry, Kristen went to UCLA for her MFA and David continued his MFA at SFAI. I became a teacher and used my artistic skills to develop a successful children’s line of furniture , besides selling art and having exhibitions. David became a professor at a local college, and Kristen she became one of the leading figures in the LA art scene.

Water Benjamin had a profound influences cerebrally on me. I wrestled internally with his Marxist ideas on art. Our age was the age of artistic reproduction. At the time, we were as a society entering into the internet digital world; where, the lines between authenticity and exclusivity were being blurred. As an artist, I realized that this was a new medium, but did not know how to effectively use it to my advantage. To this day, I’m still trying to figure it out; and personally, I’m conceptualizing these ideas as we speak…

(To be continued…)

After Cézanne

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There’s a hill on the way

To Morgan Hill

On Highway 101,

Whose majestic reach

on a clear blue day,

Is seen for miles.

I’ve always admired that

Mountain top and fancied

In my heart—to paint its

Breathtaking visage.

It makes me think of Cézanne,

Who devoted himself to

rendering Mont Sainte-Victoire, in

Province, France.

Cézanne,

Reduced his mountain to a

Modernist object.

I don’t have such

Lofty ideals,

I just want to pay homage to

Mount El Toro.

A California landmark—

And leave it,

Exactly

As it is.

“Second Rate Turner”, An Ode To Oscar Wilde

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Dialog with my undergrad adviser at the Art Institute a few years ago:

Me: I’m thinking of applying to graduate school.

Prof: Save your money and buy a lot of art supplies.

Me: Actually, I’m thinking about getting my graduate degree in philosophy. Shocked, and after a few seconds of silence.

Prof: Isn’t there enough philosophy in painting?

Me: Yes, but I’m really intrigued by the deeper meaning of art, life and words. When I open up an art book or magazine, the images come alive with the words. I ultimately feel that art is naked without words…

Prof: Art speaks for itself, at least good art does. Good art doesn’t need words.

Me: Not according to Oscar Wilde. When speaking to someone who casually observed how lovely a certain English sunset was. Remarked, that it was only, “a second rate Turner.” With one stroke of his pen, his wit superseded Turner’s famous sunset and his friend’s casual remark.

Painting III

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Blue is a poignant color

it demands space.

It screams-

look at me,

I take up three

quarters of the world’s place!

When using blue

in a painting it

has to be done

with reserve otherwise,

it saturates everything

with arrogance and verve.

Painting II

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(Untitled # 13 Oil on Board by Samuel De Lemos)

Green, red and ochre
are in turmoil with
my paint bush-each color
is vying for more attention.
I’m humble they’re not.

Painting I

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(Untitled #14, oil on board by Samuel De Lemos)

I bought myself some oil
colors at the Hobby Lobby
I found a deal on canvas there 2 for 1. I thought to myself, I need to make
some art. Frantic art, desperate art. Painting is cathartic-it draws you into a
meditative state-an aesthetic state. Once you’re in that zone, everything else disappears your concentration is dedicated to completing a picture:

Abstract thoughts-

rain comes in on a flying moon.

Colors used simply

produce kinetic chunks of remnants

used to decipher my inner code.

Squeezing the tube on my pallet

yields color magnets of lively hues-

pushed and pulled by my horsehair brushes.

It’s like sitting in Arizona

surrounded by a golden red sunset

on a table made of earth,

rich red earth

with the sound of children in the middle of their merriment,

while drinking chai

served by happily employed Native Americans.

My Phoenix

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Looking to find answers-disparate players In agonistic sincerity.
Wishing for some power-ball
Match, to save me from the agitation in my truncated Dyptic painting.
Colors are wrong-the placement is cerebral: contrived words
contrived life, everything is Jelly. Oscillating tentacles of
eclectic-denim! its half past five I’m trying to get my buzz on
with Styrofoam sheets in between finished songs.
Packed in disillusionment, I see holes in trees through blacked out screens,
now screams-senseless splashes once my Phoenix
recedes into cupcakes with purple filling and white sprinkled fences.
Cold walks in another town, familiar ocean waves
singing lullaby’s with a steady bass line and sounds of dysfunctional
pool hall balls. Tattooed benches filled with crumbs of
men trying to sell their documentaries
for a buck or a part-time poem, either way street art moves on
in the ashes of moonlit hysteria.

Brown

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Not as pretty as green?
Or pristine as ochre red?

I was infuriated when
certain artist
said—
that, in their pallet-
brown was a color
seldom used.

Sexier near pink.
than,
vermillion
or Prussian Blue.

In spite of others—
I’d rather use you.

When addressed,
It’s the
aristocratic
“Vandyke”;

Which gives you
an honorary
air of colonial
insight.

Remember
black—which
the French impressionist
disliked?

Never
a fancy name
was given—
to a color
so scorned!

Monet, Renoir and
Toulouse-Lautrec
all said, “no”
to
noir!

Was it cubist?
Or was it after
Les demoiselles de Avignon,
that the ban on black
was finally overturned?

It takes an artist
of color
to appreciate,
how all the hues
in one’s pallet
are fresh and
salient.

Untitled

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(Painting by Ad Reinhardt)

Untitled-work can be
finished or
[In]Complete.

Untitled-the art
I see-
Black paintings
Who knows
what else
lies beneath?

Untitled-life seems
To me,
overwhelming.
With hardly a
chance
to breath.

Untitled-work
begets
Work.
We manage
to scrape by
to eat.

Untitled-the best is yet
To come,
“hope”
I set
My
aspirations on.

Untitled-my throat hurts,
My muscles ache,
My eyes are blood
shot red,
It’s time
I think,
to go to
Bed.

Blues Singer

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(painting by Elmer Bischoff)

There’s a painting I saw of a singer
With loosely rendered brush strokes.
She was painted in the most brilliant of hues
The painting was of a woman-singing the blues.

A large lady in a fancy dress
She is in a bar, I imagine
singing her very best.
Her hips—wide,
Her mouth, parted
Her hands near her side.

Blues-I have ’em, you can’t find them
Blues-I found them, you can’t ride ’em
Blues-I rode them, you can’t hide ’em
Blues-I hid them, you can’t describe ’em
Blues-Blues, Blues.

Somewhere inside the soul-
feelings are intimately caressed
Every ounce of pain-
is then magically manifest.
In the lyrics of the blues singer.
Vividly expressed:

Reds,
lavenders,
greens,
and
Yellows,

The staccato of brilliance-
was heard
While I was
raptured
by a rendering
of a lady
Singing the blues.