Sunday, February 28, 2016

Aaron Collier, Continued...

Aaron Collier                  Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Traviesa
This post will make more sense if you read the previous piece about Aaron Collier's show at Tulane.

Aaron Collier and I exchanged emails before I wrote a post about about his show. When it was finished I sent him a link to the piece I wrote about his work and invited a response from him. I told him that I am more interested in a dialogue than hit and run art writing. It is not customary for artists to respond to art reviews, but I am not really a critic. I aim to articulate my experience of artworks and my thoughts about art more broadly. I asked Aaron to share his thoughts about what I wrote and he did. I found these passages illuminating and asked him if I could post them here. I have his okay. His comments are in blue. 

On the medium:

AC: One of the mesmerizing features of using the Flashe, which I think you picked up on but relate to differently than I did, is its ability to seep and flatten and settle without any texture. Whereas you noted that the effect was like trying to meet the gaze through mirrored sunglasses (feeling denied "entry"), I perceive the lure to keep pulling me as the viewer closer, closer, closer into the work, with the scale of the painting filling the periphery and enveloping.  But, the lines do, in my opinion, too, remain elusive. I don't find myself "stopping" at the texture or the viscosity of the paint in the same way that oils stop me at their swell or shiny surface...  With Flashe, I don't follow the allure only to pull back and declare the surface distant so much as persisting in following the mark into a seemingly endless recessive space.

This issue of surface is so interesting to me and it comes up again and again when looking at and talking about paintings. Surface is related to what with some paintings feels like an ideal viewing distance. Sometimes I see a painting that draws me in but as I move closer the image stiffens or the illusion of distance closes. Sometimes though what you see from a distance gets stranger upon closer examination. I like that. I like leaning in and wondering how is that put together? 

On the owls: 

AC: The three owls, in my own estimation, were a way of suggesting that the physical world is not necessarily more revelatory than the illusory world of the images, so yourself feeling scattered back to the images is great to hear...  The pigeon reference was super sharp and poignant there, and I had not even considered such!  The owls seeming so physical and present and certain at first, only to break down and reveal their plastic seams and decoy-ness, was a hope as I considered their inclusion. 

Aaron Collier  Looking Into  Photo Courtesy of the Artist
Aaron Collier    Looking At    Photo Courtesy of the Artist

On contrasting experience:

AC: I found it interesting that you connected with the piece that sought to deny connection, those horizontal bands resisting "entry" or the "picture as window," an allusion that many of the other paintings were intended to construct.  Looking At is intended to contrast Looking Into, its neighbor to the right, the former obstructing entry (perhaps for the blue snippet in the bottom left?) and the latter inviting it.  But, I totally believe that we ask paintings to woo us in our own idiosyncratic ways...

I am caught on the phrase "intended to construct." Maybe this is part of what I sense in some of the works: the construction following the intention rather than the construction occurring simultaneously with, not so much intention as a hunch. Maybe the paintings in which the intention was accomplished successfully lack an open-ended quality or weirdness that I am attracted to. The piece titled Looking At is weird and I like that. Of course another viewer may have the opposite reaction, seek a kind of intention or closure. 

(Aaron, thank you for your thoughts and for extending the conversation.)

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