Tuesday, February 28, 2006

can a painter project?

art: spent a good part of saturday over at my masi's. was playing with my cousin's notepad pc, which has this great drawing interface. attached is one of the resulting sketches. this was originally a photograph i shot while in india a few months ago. from this pc software, i am able to import an image, and then draw on top of it. i thought the sketch came out well, but felt a little odd about the process. i ran across this article at clickwalla on souza. it mentioned his obsession w/ a camera obscura, which apparently allowed him to project images onto his canvases from where he could paint. i recall being a kid and getting this little light desk thing that let me put a picture in it, and a piece of paper, and i could trace over the image. i was fascinated. like most kids around 11 years of age, reproducing realism was my artist ideal. much later in my art years, i can safely say its not a big deal to sketch things, but often it is a pain blowing up an image from a photo onto canvas to form a starting point for a painting. i can see why souza wanted to skip the effort, and get on w/ the more exciting aspects of his paintings. ameen and i started chatting about this last night - bottom line, is it sleezy in some way to follow such a process? i would think this argument would be considered settled by marcelles du champ's toilet hanging show many years ago. certainly the art world claims it is, nonetheless, i think deep down, even the most ardent "art is what the artist says it is" mantra chanters, have a problem with it. it took ameen 20 minutes and some pondering to finally conclude, yeah, its fine, so long as the artist doesn't hide the process in any way. i, however, think its fine, but am still feeling unsettled. why am i unsettled? if someone can hang a urinal up and call it art -- if legions can shoot photos and call it art -- if legions can accept both as art, why is it such a big deal for me to shoot one's own photo, project it, and jump start the composition process? oddly, it doesn't even bother me to now know one of my favorite painters followed such a process.


pleinair said...

I too have recently had this discussion with an old artist friend and have concluded as you are that "art is what the artist says it is". Perhaps the difficulty you and I are having is the continuing paradigm that 'art' mandates which is to challenge yourself to be better, a better painter, a better thinker a better life.

metalhead said...

your unease lies with the fact that the artist's creation of art seems fake. The relationship between art and truth is important.

"Art permits the truth to arise in the creation of the art work and art work itself. Yet the truth that happens also involves the audience's response and interpretation. Thus, the free becoming of truth indudes the artist, the creation of the work of art, the work of art itself, and the audience's relationship to the work of art." -Heidegger "The Origin of the Work of Art

I don't see a problem with it however. The kid on the bike that you projected looks pretty good. It didn't move me much though, neither did the original.

If Munch's "Scream" had been created by projection I would still love it because of the many qualities it has which could only be conferred by the intense feeling of the artist.

deep said...

wow, these are interesting comments - makes me glad i started this whole blogging business. i especially like the heidegger quote.

as an aside, since the scream came up, i must say i have never been as disappointed seeing a work of art in real life as i was in oslo when i saw this piece. it was so flat and lifeless. i had the exact opposite experience when i saw my first rothko. i think the power of the scream lies in its symbol, where the power in a rothko lies in its actual execution in paint on canvas. i think symbolic work works better in a simple digital image.

metalhead said...

Im not too familiar with Rothko. Actually I'm not too much into paintings in general. Maybe that's why I like Scream: because of its powerful symbol.

On a certain level you could argue that even a "real" painting is just a 'projection' of an image from the artist's mind.

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