Monday, March 25, 2013

Down the memory hole...

All that which sang, and fought, and shone, and strove (after Marina Tsvetaeva)
20"×16" (50.8×40.6cm) Oil on canvas panel March 2013
+Terrill Welch wrote about her process today, and about the painting's period of "resting" specifically. I have this period, too, although I didn't call it "resting" till recently, when I "borrowed" the term from Terrill. 

For me, it used to be rather something like "the first review". The first, because if the painting passes the first review -- that is, if I deem it complete and OK after a week or so -- it doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to survive in this form. It may be just a beginning of an entirely different process. 

This panel shown above looks like this as of today. Its first version passed "the first review" about two years ago and looked very different:


Just a study, from life, of two bunches of flowers, one on the window sill, another on a studio table. Looking at it now, I am not really sure how it managed to survive the first review, but it did, till the second one, about four months later. After that, it went into a rework, the first one of its kind, but marking a beginning of something new and exciting in my studio practice (since then, this sort of rework has become an essential component of my process): in the new version, the painting has become much more "abstract", and also somewhat simpler. Here is how the second version, which survived for about a year and a half, looked like (I don't now why, exactly, but I have never released it):


This one has had its own period of resting, and passed its own "first review". It has long since dried, cured, and was actually stored away in an archival box. I marked it for another rework a couple of months ago, but it is only today that I actually pulled it out. And today, this panel was my fellow traveller much deeper down the memory hole than I have ever travelled (in painting) so far, towards my mid-teenage years. 

I re-tuned it today to the rhythms and tones of a poem which used to be my favorite at that time, and which I stayed away from for too long: a nearly hysterical cry of a young, twenty-year old woman looking through time at the still distant void where she, like so many before her, is going to disappear one day. A request to be believed, a cry to be loved. A poem by the, arguably, the greatest Russian poet of the last century, a woman marked to live a dark and tragic life in the darkest times of her motherland, ended by suicide at about the same age that I am right now. 

That's where the current title of the painting comes from.



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