HART – Back to Black
The “Back To Black” works have nothing at all in common with the existential depair of Amy Winehouse, and her song of the same title. Rehab is more like it. Yes Amy, some say yes to rehab. Myself for example, who after many a year of being seduced by color finally overdosed, and resorted to cleaning my palette; reducing my visual vocabulary to black and white as a means of privileging somatic awareness; the haptic over the seductive optical delights of color. Surface becoming primary, color, secondary.
Paint. It has a life of its own. There’s no other medium quite like it. Nothing else comes close.
Listen. I confess to squeezing a whole lotta tubes. Have done my share of grinding pigments, messed with mediums, succombed to sizes, toy’d with brushes, been swayed by mediums and gone giddy over grounds and glazes. Lord knows, I’ve had tense moments with fugitive colors, meddled with siccatives and been anxious over balsams, had my fling with gessos, stroked and fondled surfaces of every size shape and color, done a whole lot of acetone, turps, white spirit, denatured alcohol and experienced epiphanemic moments with encaustics and varnishes. I’ve also been carried away with casiens, eulogized over resins, and broken eggs for temperas.
Yes, It’s true, I’ve shamelessly laid a lot of coats; fervently poured, splashed, splattered, smeared, daubed, dripped and dribbled, fingered, fondled, cursed, praised, polished, wiped, wiggled, shaked and rocked and rolled it. Had it on the grass, on the floor, up against a wall, on the table, taped from head to toe, gouged and sanded, scraped, squeezed and stroked it from top to bottom; caressed, coddled, cursed, and talked to it.
The fact is, I grow these works; skin after skin, coat after coat. The final result being a multifarious accumulation of gestures of calculated randomness. A lovingly enhanced spectrum of carefully cultivated obsessions; some made quickly, some made slow; with or without music, in artificial light, natural light, three months behind in the rent, the landlord’s threatning to litigate, the fridge is empty, and the girfriend’s long gone..and who can blame her? Paint... paint...paint, it’s all I seem to do.....I could go on...but you get the picture...
....and last, but not least, I blow paint. Yes you might say the blow job, is my humble contribution, to “The Gallery-Industrial Complex.” I blow paint. More precisely, I blow into it. Move it around with no more than a huff and a puff. Draw with it. That’s right, My goddam breath is written in large all over my work. Leaves me quite breathless just thiking about it.
Preferring to be in several spaces at a time, I usually work on four or six panels or canvasses simultaneously. Each panel or canvas complete in itself, but thought of as part of a larger whole to be assembled at a later date. An analogy might be made to the term “holon”: a word coined by Arthur Koestler to desribe subsystems which are both wholes and parts; each holon having two opposite tendancies: an intergrative tendancy to function as part of the larger whole, and a self-assertive tendancy to preserve its individual autonomy. Considering myself as part of a “ subsystem” - one that you might call - Beyond The Underground - this working procedure of mine; this precarious balance between the random and the pre-determined is nothing other than a way of short-circuiting the heirarchy of linear thinking; a strategy for courting chance, surprising myself, a means to Indeterminancy.
until I complete my arrival, as through veils of oriental space:
my conception of series of thinly partitioned units
permanently on the verge of geographical separation,
of being lost in the opacity of irretrievably divided containers,
but which as a whole permit the vastness of a mysterious Asia,
and when that happens I am in many places at once.
A few lines from « Works on Paper », 7/72-7/74, by Tony Towle, “one of the New York School’s best-kept secrets”, as John Ashbery has stated. . Tony a friend of old, who sums it up beautifully: At the end of the day, the final work is a marriage of several canvasses or panels combined to correspond to some kind of harmonic stasis; one which is associated with process, interrelation with interaction, where opposites are unified through oscillation. A dynamic interplay which makes the whole system fexible and open to change. A space/time, where “time and chance have worked on the materials, not only to corrode but to create new structures: as if “process” itself had turned poet, to leave its imprints on the work.” And when that happens, as the man said, I am in many places at once.