Xeroxed, Recycled, and Reincarnated
“Well, it seems to me we have problems. When Morris Louis showed in 1958, everybody (ARTnews, Tom Hess) dismissed his work as thin, merely decorative. They still do. Louis is the really interesting case. In every sense, his instincts were Abstract-Expressionist, and he was terribly involved with all of that, but he felt he had to move, too. I always get into arguments with people who want to retain the old values in painting—the humanistic values that they always find on the canvas. If you pin them down, they always end up asserting that there is something there besides the paint on the canvas. My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object. Any painting is an object and anyone who gets involved in this finally has to face up to the objectness of whatever it is that he’s doing. He is making a thing. All that should be for granted. If the painting were lean enough, accurate enough or right enough, you would just be able to look at it. All I want anyone to get out of my paintings is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any conclusion . . . What you see is what you see….
I think what I said is sentiment wasn’t necessary. I didn’t think then, and I don’t now, that it’s necessary to make paintings that will interest people in the sense that they can keep going back to explore painterly detail. One could stand in front of any Abstract-Expressionist work for a long time, and walk back and forth, and inspect the depths of the pigment and the inflection and all the painterly brushwork for hours. But I wouldn’t particularly want to do that and also I wouldn’t ask anyone to do that in front of my paintings. To go further, I would like to prohibit them from doing that in front of my painting. That’s why I make the paintings the way they are, more or less.” [Frank Stella in conversation with Bruce Glaser and Donald Judd]
“In the contemporary aesthetic production it’s easy to detect the signs of a sort of dark zeitgeist. Zeitgeist – the spirit of the time – means perception of imminence. If we look at recent narrative works we find everywhere the same no-way-out imagination. Art, poetry, narration, music, cinema and the overall aesthetic semiosis of our time are tracing a landscape of imminent darkness: social de-evolution, physical decay and neuro-totalitarianism….
Human evolution is made of hard stuff like technology, production, and the physical environment, but also the soft mental stuff, sensibility and language. Unconscious, desire, common expectations and fears, are the subjective side of human evolution. As it is the product of the never-ending transformation of the psycho-cultural composition of the social brain, this software is perpetually changing.” [Bernard “Bifo” Berardi Heroes]
“How Wool’s paintings take advantage of an in-between position in the remarkably self-conscious history of abstract painting has been repeatedly observed, between immediate gesture and mediated remove, between Pollock and Warhol, between a retinal quiver and allover legibility of process, between paroxysm and cool…These are surfaces where intrusion and retreat interrupt the trajectory of each spray-painted mark. Taking place at different times in the enamel’s attempt to set, the solvent-laden rubbing varies in intensity from the grey smear of immediate erasure to the recalcitrant rubbing out of a long-standing line that thereafter bears trace of its absence, losing enamel but maintaining a ghosted outline within the composition. Links between works are further complicated by rotating the canvases—as evinced by the up, down, and side-to-side direction of the drip down—indicating a session-like approach of attending to more than one painting at a time in order to further elaborate serial yet conjunctive relationships….
These “tiny deportations” result in an experience of time rather than depth as an index emerges from the mix of clouded gesture and lacerated crossings, one that makes a positive of cancel and activates Wool’s propulsive vision of null and void further into the frame with each pass… And while the hand remains conspicuously removed by spray paint and rag, a re-assertion of expressive gesture—though impoverished and reputed—is increasingly prominent. This move toward what was previously disallowed is familiar as Wool often overturns his process: whether reversing painting procedures in his silkscreen enlargements—where a splotch, drip, spiral, or wash of paint is often zoomed in on to give a molecular, microscopic feel of immediacy—or by foregoing the hit-record status of the text paintings, Wool has repeatedly moved away from hall marks. As he has said, “You take color out, you take gesture out—and then later you can put them in.” [Fione Meade on Christopher Wool]