Unreal Nature

May 23, 2017

Holding On

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… This is the thing that got me inside myself and that’s the thing I’ve been holding on to.

This is from the 1997 interview with Alex Katz found in David Sylvester’s Interviews with American Artists (2001):

[ … ]

David Sylvester: So I take it that one of the reasons why you’re attracted to doing the large landscapes is that here you’re able to use a Baroque rhythm?

Alex Katz: Yes, that’s one of the things that interests me. Painting another way. But it’s been a new area. And it would seem exciting to go to a place that was kind of open and dangerous. And actually when you do a ten- or twenty-foot painting wet-in-wet, you’re going where no one’s been. Wet-in-wet painting is just the same technique you’d use on a small painting but on a huge scale, and it seems to suit my temperament. So it’s like finding a part of yourself that you didn’t know was there and working with it.

[line break added] When you start out you learn to do something, then you try something else, then you take a chance and try something else and it works, and soon you’re doing things you never dreamed you could do. Then people ask you to do things and you do things, and you didn’t know you had a talent for it, and it’s a continual trip trying to find something that’s interesting to do.

DS: You were very emphatic when you said that the work would never go into fantasy.

AK: Well, everything could be changed, but I’m pretty sure, always working from an optical base, you have an idea about what a painting should be, or an idea of a painting. And then it correlates with something I see and then I start out empirically and optically. And when I do that I get involved in the light: there’s an unconscious procedure and it gets into something I wouldn’t have thought of to start with. It moves around a bit and that’s the part that’s interesting.

[line break added] Because when you go in there you find things; weird things happen and some are all right and some aren’t all right. But they wouldn’t have happened if you just took the idea and did it, and that’s part of it. I think with painting you have the opportunity to go inside yourself and find your unconscious intelligence or your non-verbal intelligence and your non-verbal sensibility and your non-verbal being in a sense. And you alternate between consciousness and unconsciousness and it can engage much more of you than if you just merely took an idea and executed it.

[line break added] You know it’s very bright but you don’t get as much into it. That’s my feeling about it. So the thing I’ve found is that the subject matter is the outside light. This is the thing that got me inside myself and that’s the thing I’ve been holding on to. And it’s just a matter of seeing how many variations I can do on it or where it could go.

My most recent previous post from Sylvester’s book is  here.




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