Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 109: Welcome Back

I took a nice break for christmas, and then a few sick days, but now I'm back and excited to make some art. New years is a really beautiful opportunity for a struggling artist with many resolutions to make.

Oddly enough, for someone so enthralled with rituals, I don't have a set new years ritual. For this reason, I think, I often find it to be a disappointing holiday. So I'm making an early new years resolution: to do something special and memorable to bring in a new year. I'm thinking an awesome art project. Ideas to come.

Also, it is tuesday. Which means I get to write all about some cool artist I've just researched. Yesterday there was a biography of Alice Neel on television, and I was completely awe struck by her work. She handles paint absolutely beautifully, but that becomes secondary to the emotional potency of her work. She was a true portrait painter, capturing the essence and spirit of a person along with their physicality. Her work resonates with me in so many ways.

I always appreciate a good self portrait, and the painting above is magnificent! Alice Neel was, without hesitation or apology a figurative painter in a time when abstract expressionism predominated. After photography, the figure had become irrelevant to the painting world. The fact that she continued to make meaningful and exquisite figurative paintings is inspiring.She demonstrated that figurative work, including portraits can always be made relevant and powerful. Thank you for that Alice Neel.

The biography really helped capture her force as an artist, but it also often showed a grim and harsh portrait of the artist herself. Reminiscence of her was a struggle between admiration and abhorrence. She was a woman denying any imposed role or formula, painting because she had to, struggling, and often failing to find the balance between motherhood and art .

Though she mainly painted portraits of people, she wasn't bound by a certain look or formula. No two paintings are quite alike, she adopted the appropriate style and line and texture for each one. Capturing the instant was more important than following of a formula. And I admire how she explored and expanded her techniques and styles right until the day she died.

I identify so much with the way that she saw. How she sought out the poignancy and symbolism in every action and gesture and object. She once was so moved by a fish tank she began sobbing. For all your contributions to art, again I'd like to say, thank you Alice Neel.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great post Geddes! Alice Neel is definitely a major forebear (maybe even a matriarch) in your family tree!