I often remember Matisse's Swimming Pool in the Museum of Modern Art, in the middle of which, if I let myself go, the dark blue cut-outs of partly abstracted figures float off the wall into the room. This Holy Grail (for me} of illusion on a flat surface, is probably not repeatable without Matisse's style and content. Nevertheless, I have been thinking more about the spatial interaction of representation and abstraction.
Renaissance frontal, linear and aerial perspective, mixed with baroque changing viewpoints and floating figures, seems to set the limits of realist representation. There is a great Chinese fresco in the Guimet Museum, Paris, which shows the bodhisattva of space among floating forms. (Not reproduced anywhere I know.) Late Cézannes sometimes change viewpoints in order to bring his receding blue air out and around the warm foreground, floating space off the canvas. Twentieth century artists twist, build out, flatten and drop the horizon to infinity, or turn to sculpture.
For this exhibition, I began drawing from models, trying to float parts of form away from the main form. As usual, I followed impulse as often as logic, never really following a coherent idea. Looking later, I saw some coherence, as for instance, going in a sequence of steps from more realistic to more abstract or symbolic (or maybe the opposite). Making forms float was easy enough, but not in a fully integrated image. Sometimes I used forms I normally don't like, as when I repeated eyes or twisted realistic forms (Surrealism).
These experiments were not always successful, but have clarified ideas for me.
Painting, as usual, was even harder. After trying out ideas and impulses on smaller works, I made a study for a larger painting in which transparence would replace unpainted surface. I laid in horizontal bands of color related to a landscape seen from a window, then invented figures. And some abstractions, that were partly translucent and partly opaque.
A week or so later an exhibition by Marc Desgrandchamps opened at the Musee de Arte Moderne, Paris. Very good large paintings, landscape bands of color, translucent and opaque figures, plus abstracted forms, excellent space, for which he is recognized in France. (http://www.mam.paris.fr/en/expositions/marc-desgrandchamps)
I decided to go on with my ideas, similar or not. The differences are different and the similarities the same.
As with my drawings, the paintings are currently experiments with some successful elements and some doubts. I like the space and most forms. I now want to do portraits with psychological abstraction and narrative paintings with the same, because of space.
Double Self-Portrait, 2011, acrylic on paper, 14 x 20"
Hand and Arm, 2011, acrylic on paper, 20 x 14"
Torin Apart, 2011, pencil on paper, 10 x 10 ¾"
David, 2 Faces, 2011, pencil on paper, 10 ¾ x 10"