… You struggle both on behalf of and against what you have already accomplished.
This is from the essay ‘Studio notes, 1993-94’ in Robert Mangold (2000):
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26 February 1993
I create and shape my work to satisfy my needs. This does not mean that I am two people, one who needs and one who makes; there is only one person. I cannot say to my other self, ‘Tell me what your needs are, I will try to satisfy them.’ But it is rather a whole process, this needing and making.
I want certain things from my work at any particular time, many of these are unspecified, not clearly in focus. You work on the focus of the work as you make it.
And this does not mean that at the end of the process you can state the aims of the work, as made visual. It does not work that way.
30 March 1993
Each set or group of paintings I do develops a set of rules or constants, things that are true in each work. When I start with a new idea, part of the job is to find the logic. There are many possibilities in setting up the rules; they are seemingly arbitrary but in reality, each idea settles, makes a union with, its rules, and they are resolved. This resolution, the constants in the series, set the framework for the struggle within each work to again find a union or resolution, but in the face of the works the rules are not important.
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29 April 1993
Painting and Seeing and Being
A camera can only see, it can only record.
A person can only see, he or she cannot record.
When you view a painting, you exist in relation to it.
The relationship is one of seeing and being, not seeing alone, since it is impossible to separate seeing from being.
It is the experience of seeing and being in front of a work which affects us.
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14 March 1994 a.m.
The dilemma today for the artist is the same as it has always been. When I go to the studio, what shall I do? How can I make something of meaning? And by meaning I am talking about meaning to me. It is easy to make something that looks good, that it is momentarily topical, but to make something of meaning is not easy. And by meaning I do not mean that it takes one further step down some historical, political or stylistic road.
Albers said Angst is dead.
Minimal sculptors and critics said the same for Painting.
Conceptual theoreticians declared the end of the object,
And Earth Art signalled the end of the gallery.
So here we are many years later with a surplus of Angst, paintings, objects, and galleries.
Artists are always struggling against history and the moment, to propel themselves forward, not forward as in progress, but forward as reaching for oxygen, or as a plant reaches for light. You struggle both on behalf of and against what you have already accomplished.