Archive | October, 2010

Golem

21 Oct

Some things in the studio, gettin’ towards done. As is often the case, I’ve been painting horned animals and birds at an unusual scale, and in exaggerated poses.

As is equally often the case, some of my favorite parts of the work are the abstracted areas, the chance textures that come from strange paint reactions and adventures with the orbital sander.

And as is, yes, even more often the case, I am somewhat stymied and stuck as to how to finish these things, so I thought I would post them now, in honor of their incompleteness and pesky energy.

I’m really preoccupied with root forms lately, and have been making pilgrimages to local Asian markets in search of interesting bits. I’m seeking ginseng, or other interesting, woody and tangly medicinal roots (though so far all I’ve come home with is hot sauce and “sinus buster” tea). I’m moved to add root forms to these paintings, especially the one with the big horn sheep, drawn for some reason to this image of earthy growth intertwined with the animal or transposed on sky.

The problem is, I don’t know why. And I’m not sure whether it’s okay to simply keep going on impulse, or whether it might be nice to have a more… um… lucid understanding of my own work. Sometimes I wish I were like  Adam, who knows very well when he is, for example, “seeking out aggregations of quadrangular forms, resulting in architectural conglomerations with an ‘accidental’ feeling of high modernity. ” Yes. That’s definitely a thing.

I’m sure the delightful conflict between intuitive indulgence and purposeful meaning-making will persist for approximately my whole life. So for tonight, here’s a vote for creative guts that I just found while reading a book of Michael Chabon essays. (What “creative guts” means is different for all of us and hard as hell to put a finger on, but surely it’s something we should step up and celebrate.)

Chabon’s essay is about the act of writing, and he uses the myth of golem-making as an analogy for the writer’s (or any artist’s) pursuit. Talks about the creation of monsters, the fact that a fear of losing control of one’s creation is, more often than not, a sign that you’re doing something right.

The essay and its muddy metaphor ends like this, and so I will as well!

“If a writer submits his work to an internal censor long before anyone else can get their hands on it, the result is pallid, inanimate, a lump of earth.

The adept handles the rich material, the rank river clay, and diligently intones his alphabetical spells, knowing full well the history of golems: how they break free of their creators, grow to unimaginable size and power, refuse to be controlled. In the same way the writer shapes his story, flecked like river clay with the grit of experience and rank with the smell of human life, heedless of the danger to himself, eager to show his powers, to celebrate his mastery, to bring into being a little world that, like god’s, is at once terribly imperfect and filled with astonishing life”.