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  • Writer's pictureagprat

Of corners, crevices, and close-ups

In a previous blog I started writing about the circumstances, and some of the people, artists, and places that helped shape the path that led me to my journey into art and artmaking.

After exploring representational paintings of still lifes or the nude at adult education centers, I noticed a growing tendency to zoom into my subjects. I found myself blowing up certain areas or crevices on my painting surface of the subject in front of me. That is how I started to turn a section of a concrete, organic, object or model into a peculiar, nearly abstract, composition. I was being pulled towards a more non-representational type of art, but I was still unsure of how to fully achieve it -- I was acting on intuition. It was thrilling and slightly scary to transform shoulders, faces or knees, into fictional landscapes of unknown origin. I felt like I was channeling Edward Weston in one of his photographic sessions with peppers or cabbages. I continued this obsession in different media: charcoal and oil being my favorites. While my interest moved into the corners of my subject, I was also moving towards more textural ways of applying my paint. I started working with palette knife application of the oil paint-- Finally! I was letting go of the perfectionism prompted by my ancestors and ingrained in me. I was starting to gravitate towards a more liberated, expressive, gestural, loose, and bolder type of experimentation.

Toggling between realism and this newfound approach to my subjects, I still found my desire for closing-up on my subjects unsatisfied. What came next? Working within the crevice-mode, I found myself exaggerating the palette choice and the lines that limited those chosen shapes to create something that made sense from a purely compositional standpoint, regardless of their source in the perceptual world. That is how my first series, Figurescape, was born.

My subject matter shifted from a perceptual, external, world into a more introspective one, still highly informed by organic forms in the external world. In brief, there was a strong will to reinvent what I perceived and make my own impromptu mark, distorting color, shapes, and form to re-create my own abstract composition.

Was I satisfied? I guess not, since I went further: I was pursuing a purely abstract aesthetic while these attempts were still very recognizable as derived from organic forms. I started to work on panels that were arranged to create a bigger surface. Starting with a certain section, crevice, mapped onto the bigger surface, I would disassemble the panels’ order, rearranging the panels like jigsaw pieces until I could not recognize my original crevice-subject. I then continued to paint them with my palette knife, brushes or anything that helped me apply the paint until the new arrangement of the panels “made sense” to me. These “Fragmented Figurescapes” were even further re-arranged on the walls around my studio. In retrospect, I think that this process eventually helped me fully focus on the painting itself and detach from the external world as a source of inspiration, from a visual point of view. Much of what I still create is inspired by my emotions to the external world and their injustices, glories, and calamities, but less so by the organic or inorganic forms surrounding me: Perceiving the world in a different way with the eyes of my soul. Until next time...!

Image: “Figurescape in Yellow and Purple”, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; the original is available for sale. I am also offering high quality giclée prints reproducing this and a few of my early representational or semi-abstract pieces. Please go to Facebook or Instagram to see this offer, or contact me. If you are interested in any of my paintings or have questions, please contact me here.

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