Thursday, August 20, 2015

of sarah sze

[Note: I wrote this a couple of years ago but just got around to editing/posting]

When I first saw an installation of Sarah Sze's work at the MFA/Boston in 2002, I was struck with her use of small fans, which activated the bits of materials that made up the bulk of the piece. It seemed the air currents created animation to the work in ways that the artist couldn't totally predict. This animation throughout the rambling piece-- spanning 2 floors--helped elevate the work beyond a mere catalog of the work of an obsessive- compulsive. I recently heard Jerry Saltz say that good art gives off more energy than went into its making. The fans, in large part, help lift (literally) Sze's work into this category.

In my own work,  I've been dealing with a sort of double exposure imagery/ off -set printing style marks. It's a process that yields a kind of animation or movement in the work.

Sometimes I think what stands out in others' work, are answers to  the things we're tackling in our own.

Sarah Sze's installation at Tanya Bonakdar gallery, 2010
More examples of this: I  remember seeing an Art 21 video of Kara Walker showing her cutting silhouetted figures from a big roll of paper. She seemed "in a groove"  as she sliced through the paper with sure, continuous cuts. In that very same Art21 episode, Elizabeth Murray sketched onto clear mylar sheeting with a sharpie, using fluid, continuous movement.   Something about both their quick, almost athletic actions stayed with me.

This idea of work that comes quickly, and often in one shot has been a touchstone. I have a "need for speed" in the studio, and so much the better if it shows in the product.

 Back to the double exposure paintings.  The process removes a static-ness, in a way, I hope, similar to the use of fans by Sze. It's a riff on a printmaking process, but made alla prima with oil paint- the quicker, less controlled the better.

A tendency is to make the processes in the studio into art--I guess that's a Bruce Neuman notion I've internalized. For me, support materials and tendencies in the studios, find ways into the work itself.

 Nauman made the following assumption: “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.

So reference and support materials--xeroxes, postcards, painter's tape, (even studio furniture)- instead of being jumping off points, become the actual focus, and in some cases, the actual art.

Support materials, activities in studio:


painter's tape

resting paintings on chairs while re-arranging work on walls.