Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dana Carlson

Night Shrine
44 × 38 inches
embroidery, applique, beadwork and paint

What appeals to me is basically just mark-making - the accumulation of marks and what they add up to when they are abutted and stacked up on top of eachother. My work gives me an opportunity to put all these marks together - to combine imagery, symbols, landscape, still-life, portraiture, literal marks that read only as marks, gestural marks (on a continuum from painterly 'fine-art' marks to dorkus majoris marks), pattern & decorative marks, + the whole material quest. It's a lot. They all get to be players in the pictorial vs. abstract painting battle that remains un-won.

Starting a new work is like embarking on an adventure of sorts. It's the lamest statement - totally cliche, I know - but it's true. Sorry. How well the plan is laid out varies but discovery is the thing. And beauty - a dubious term but my quest is not to make something "good" or even "considered" but to find the beauty that comes from the moment when all the pieces are balancing just right. Directness is key. Less mediation, less art, more thing and process. Process feels more honest. Absurdity is always welcome. Really what I'm looking for are new combinations, combinations that register on the feeling vs. semantic vs. form axis.

I think about how much good-looking, cool advertising and fashion there is out there - not to mention contemporary art. Our eyes get really trained to look in a set mode and so for me - I am trying to figure out how to escape that a little. That's probably impossible. Thrift store paintings start looking amazing - bad decisions can be great decisions - that kind of thing. It's not to be clever or ironic it's to find some other way. And yes, this strategy is yet another that's been around. Who knows. Ideally I want to make paintings in ways that I don't already know so much. That's my plan.

2002 - (but still applies)

I fashion myself as a Romantic artist for the 21st century - with some major hang-ups. By combining Abstract Expressionism's gestural risk taking with an ambition for the grace, beauty, and swooning elegance of Titian and Tiepolo, my work presents a lyrical, delightful, rock-n-roll dream landscape populated by birds, guitars, furniture, and pattern. This Romantic, almost surreal world of love and beauty is countered by a self conscious anxiety present in my mark-making and conflicting painting languages. The result is an absurd compromise of my inner, fantasy world with a nagging obligation to address my personal angst, however embarrassing. I liken it to listening to the Velvet Underground as a teenager driving your parents' car in the suburbs. Driving in that car you can be anything; your life feels full of possiblities and the world itself is utterly cool, but you still have to come home to eat your dinner and clean your room.

No comments:

Post a Comment