Artist Statement: Great Art Exists as a Glimpse resume
The visual arts pick up where verbal communication [writing and speaking] leave off. Therefore, talking too much about art specifically can be a tricky undertaking and often an interference with the experience of the work. In short, an artist shouldn't 'spill the beans,' as one of my mentors put it.
My work is primarily interested in some of the more intangible aspects of the human experience - mood, tone, and the atmospheric nature of how we as humans perceive the world. I don't look to art to tell a story, to take up issues - whether social or political. All I look to art to do is to simply exist and in so existing to express something in the simplest and most direct manner possible.
For the past ten years I have been trying to parse my work of anything redundant, distracting, or roundabout in order to try and hit as close as possible to what I see as the nature of the human experience. I try, through visual means and all the tools that painting allows, to tap into the universal without bogging down in the disruptions of personal and often petty issues that might be affecting the thought of the day.
In my case, through a simple application and repetition of line, color, and texture I try to find the mainline into the human soul shaded by my personal perception. As hard as I try to remove my biases and input I still find myself lingering around in the corners of my work.
My work is like a binary equation of simple 'ones' and 'zeros' that accrue - hopefully - in a way that others find significant, genuine, and - if possible - truthful. Good art seems to function on several levels simultaneously. I have found that the more simple I make things, the more directly I apply my energies, then the more likely a certain level of complexity will arise in the work. Chess is actually a very simple game but within that simplicity is a profound depth. I am interested significantly in what that depth looks like, feels like, and is like.
I do not buy into the struggles between abstraction and figuration for supremacy in the visual arts. That argument is a canard. I see a painting as an object infused with meaning by human intervention. Paintings are objects that exist in the world and are not windows or illustrations of any idea or philosophy of any kind. Each object stands on its own merits or falls under the weight of its particular shortcomings. Art is not a stand-in for anything else, a proxy of any kind. Art - in my case painting - is an end unto itself and must stand on its own and be judged independently of any pervading social or political issues of the day.
Truly great art is timeless and maintains significance and power in any age and in any culture. Great art has no niche, requires no 'ism' of any kind. Despite a nearly pathological need for the dispensation of labels for cataloguing purposes and critical dissection, great art requires none of that to remain significant and moving.
One of the primary reasons that I choose to paint is that finally, after centuries of testing formal and conceptual boundaries, those limits have all been explored and the act of painting is now finally free to do what it has always yearned to do - to simply exist on its own and independent from the need to push the outside of any conceptual envelop. I consider this to be 'post-post-modernism,' the conceptual space that exists beyond all the dialectic call and responses that occupied most of cutting edge artistic life in the 20th century.
A painting offers no liberation or understanding, possesses no clues or key pieces of secret information, and can solve no conflict. A painting simply exists in the universe. In many ways a painting is more of a mirror than a window, reflecting and refracting what the viewer brings to the image. But unlike a mirror, a great painting will reflect a glimpse of how the viewer fits into the grand flow of the human experience. A profound painting acts more like a glimpse than a stare or some banal presentation of some fact.
These are some of the things that I ponder as I toil away, 'painting the fence' as a drunken, drug addled friend once told me in a bar in Los Angeles. For me painting is like a mantra, a repetition of gesture that eventually will get you beyond the gesture itself. The artist Morandi spent the greater part of his artistic life painting a series of 10-15 different bottles over and over again. The first few times he painted the bottles he was, in point of fact, just painting bottles. But after 20 years or so he wasn't painting bottles anymore, he was onto something else entirely. And this 'something else' is primarily what my work is about.
December 9, 2003
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