Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Long Term Engagement

While web surfing, I came across the pages for MOMA's color chart exhibition earlier this year. The MOMA exhibition did not focus so much on the delights of playing with color interaction, but rather focused on conceptual approaches that see colors as standardized -- colors as ready made cloaks.

Among the artists included, Niele Torono has, since the 60s, systematically "painted" by pressing a painted laded No. 50 brush onto surfaces (e.g. walls, etc) to make monochromatic imprints repeatedly at perpendicular 30 centimeter intervals, using pre-existing variations in architectural context and added variations in framing context (meaning the dimensions and placement of the pictorial box) to produce a surprisingly wide variety of work. The volume and range is more interesting to me than is any particular piece.

The MOMA site includes a video interview, in which Torono's speaks about the subtle variations in the brush shaped marks -- no two marks are exactly alike. The marks are individually produced, so the hand remains involved, albeit heavily constrained by the systemic approach. But because the paint application is so limited, the works for me end up being about the alteration of context, and not so much about painting. It would be incredibly difficult, impossible actually, for me to constrain my forms that much for more than a few explorations. I need to come at contextual inquiries from both directions -- varying forms within context and varying contexts around forms.

I wonder how many artists starting out today will be exploring the same processes, systems, or conceptual idea thirty years from now. Apparent originality or ironic appropriation/referential regressions are in vogue. But there is another option, which Torono has adopted -- long term, in depth exploration and engagement -- as did Cezanne and others.

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