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Archives for December, 2009

Chaim Soutine’s Carcass Paintings – Part 1

Modigliani, Portrait of Soutine

Modigliani, Portrait of Soutine

The artist Chaim Soutine’s still life paintings of animals, what I prefer to call his carcass paintings, can be unsettling, especially given the fact that Soutine was known to have never worked from memory, but rather used live, or dead, models for all his works.

Nearly all of Soutine’s art can be jarring to the viewer for a variety of reasons; his use of color, his lines, his brushstrokes and overall style as well as his subject matter are startling, but after our initial response what are we to make of these works? And what is it that Soutine was trying to say?

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Post-Painting Depression

I’m back in Portland, Oregon, from my six-week Nevada sojourn. But I haven’t unpacked my big linen canvases yet. I am almost afraid to do so, fearing that they are completely banal, hence total failures (banality is worse for me than bad).

In part, this reluctance has to do with various coming home challenges — burst pipes, unreliable contractors, relatives using the house in unexpected and unnerving ways. But in part, it’s simply because I don’t know what I did, although I am fairly certain I did not manage to un-orient, and my feeble attempts merely feel like they may be so feeble as to look feeble-minded.

Well, you see where I am. I began last February and March, 2009, living with the desert and Beatty, Nevada, painting small masonite panels, getting to know the territory and its inhabitants. This November sojourn, however, was more limited and almost entirely devoted to the Amargosa, which became more and more fascinating as I spent 6-8 hours a day, alone with the scene, for the full month of November.

So here are photos of the seven panels, plus the full panorama. These were taken as the panels were still on the wall of the Red Barn, under under limited lighting conditions. The exception is the full panorama, which was lit andphotographed by professional photographer, David Lancaster.

I am showing these in part to bolster my own sense of dignity and/or bravado.

panel1WjouUnoriented Amargosa (panel 1, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009

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raven and water

12×12 inches, maple sized with wood glue, oil

Not only am I preoccupied with water, now there are also birds. Earlier, there were ducks, here and here; now, my first raven.