Abstract Reality

Mark Rothko Black on Maroon 1958

“Our presentation of these myths, however, must be in our own terms, which are at once more primitive and more modern than the myths themselves—more primitive because we seek the primeval and atavistic roots of the idea rather than their graceful classical versions; more modern than the myths themselves because we must redescribe their implications through our own experience. Those who think that the world of today is more gentle and graceful than the primeval and predatory passions from which these myths spring, are either not aware of reality or do not wish to see it in art. The myth holds us, therefore, not through its romantic flavor, not through the remembrance of the beauty of some bygone age, not through the possibilities of fantasy, but because it expresses to us something real and existing in ourselves, as it was to those who first stumbled upon the symbols to give them life.” Mark Rothko interviewed on WNYC radio, October 13, 1943.

Reality is something we do not control. It is fleshy, capricious and unexpected. We battle and live through these things every day. Yet we’re surprised by their insistence when they show up in our systems, our programs, our markets, our societies and even our painting. When Facebook goes down or Theresa May’s BREXIT deal falls flat or the stock markets collapse we are dumbfounded. We don’t understand when we encounter the desert of the real.

David Reed Painting Painting 1975 Exhibition 2017

 “When Reed saw he couldn’t strictly do what he wanted to do, what he thought he was doing, it liberated him from reality. The works that immediately followed he begins to play with the painting’s materiality, with the relation of the image to its literal conditions. In some works, the stroke begins on one side and ends on the other, making us imagine that the paintings are round somehow, a continuous circle rather than a straight line — an unusual type of three–dimensional illusionism. Then Reed began to play with the stroke itself, nailing brushes together in order to make huge brushstrokes in several paintings of 1980.” Katy Siegel on David Reed 2001.

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