Post Tutorial with Richard Walker (23/10/17)
I am currently in the midst of preparing my stretcher for painting, anxiously awaiting the moment I put paint to canvas. Following discussion with Richard about whether or not a pictorial depiction of the Zen garden on canvas would be necessary to translate my relevant thoughts and feelings, I am apprehensive to paint (once again). I am currently enjoying the immersive raw surface of the canvas alongside the sheer black frame.
Richard asked me yesterday what I hope the audience will get from my work. I explained that currently I am not concerned by viewer reaction, however I have always intended to inflict a contemplative state of existence upon another. I would like my work to bring about an awareness of the self; ones physicality, yet also ones psychologic state. Having been influenced by Zen, I hope that my work ultimately brings about a sense of order and calm, and a consideration of the abstract space between rationality and irrationality.
Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], 1951
“Rauschenberg’s primary aim was to create a painting that looked untouched by human hands, as though it had simply arrived in the world fully formed and absolutely pure. Considered shocking and even characterized as a cheap swindle when they were first exhibited publicly in 1953, the White Paintings have gradually secured a place in art history as important precursors of Minimalism and Conceptualism….
…In 1961, composer John Cage (1912–1992) famously referred to the White Paintings as airports for lights, shadows, and particles, establishing an enduring understanding of the series as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. Building on this reading, Rauschenberg once referred to the works as clocks, saying that if one were sensitive enough to the subtle changes on their surfaces one could tell what time it was and what the weather was like outside. Ultimately, the power of the White Paintings lies in the shifts in attention they require from the viewer, asking us to slow down, watch closely over time, and inspect their mute painted surfaces for subtle shifts in color, light, and texture”.
I have not seen Rauschenberg’s White Painting, however I would imagine the precision and order is apparent upon consumption of the work. His intention to have the paintings appear “fully formed and absolutely pure” is a specificity which I would imagine is fairly hard to attain. I would assume that each decision made about the paintings were calculated in order to achieve a balanced and pure form. My hope is that the subtle yet important decisions that I have about my stretchers all equate to a similar sense of harmony and subconscious comprehension. I want the work to feel necessary and correct. I am particularly excited about the organic grain of wood which subtly appears beneath the sheer black fabric on my second stretcher. The lines in the grain are reminiscent of the fluid raking of the pebbles around the Ryoanji stones.