Saturday, February 4, 2012

Which Red? The One You See? Or, the One That's in Your Head?

Jasper Johns' Red Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

I offered a little teaser last week about a work I submitted for a local exhibit here in Tucson. The deadline has passed, so I feel like it's okay to discuss this now. Don't know if I'll get in yet. I'll let you know, if I do.

The exhibit called for artists to think about the color red, and I suppose, Mark Rothko and his color field paintings. That prompted a discussion of his work, the color, and other artists of the time, i. e., Jasper Johns (In this household, art and politics are the big, big subjects discussed regularly.) Mr. Artyfice reminded me of Johns optical fun with his flag paintings, and that was the catalyst.

Red. What can you do with this subject without being too clich├ęd?

I did some research on Rothko's contemporaries and found that he didn't care for Jasper Johns' work. Hmmm. This got me to check out why. Interesting. Ever the contrarian, I thought it would be fun to evoke the color red, per Jasper Johns, AND paint like Rothko.

This piece is my conversation on the subject. I wonder what they'd think. Gee, maybe I would annoy them both!

I really do think these two could have been better friends.

I started with a black ground and kept adding layers of color without sharp borders, even painting a layer of red with interference blue, followed by the best green I could paint (after much experimentation and exhausted cone cells!)

If you look at this image for about 30 seconds, and then shut your eyes, you'll see red. Johns did this with his Flags (1968).

Now what was it Rothko said about Johns' neo-dada work?? Oh, yes. "...after seeing Johns's targets and flags (he) harrumphed: "We worked for years to get rid of all that."

"Well, thank God, art tends to be less what critics write than what artists make," was his reply. And, Mr. Johns also said on another occasion, "I don't think that you can talk about art and get anywhere. I think you can only look at it." Ah, now, it's fun to talk about art!

I'm pleased to have had a chance to veer a bit on the experimental/response side of art, and to play with this.

She Wore New Earrings Image © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza
To purchase this painting, click here 

I'm pleased, too, to announce that She Wore New Earrings will be in the Beauty in the Beast exhibit at Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos, New Mexico, from February 24th through March 31st. A reception will be held on February 24th from 5-7 PM....Oh, I wish...