Thirty-five years ago I wondered if I could make a painting without a canvas. Was there a way of liberating paint from being a medium at the whim of the artist and allow paint to exist on its own, have its own identity? I came up with an archival solution, but at the time I was fascinated with the work of Rothko and Stella and when I applied my technique to works that looked like theirs, the results were immature – see here.
Fast forward to about 4-5 years ago. I was fed up with my job. My therapist told me that I better reacquaint myself with my creative self if I wanted to live a while longer. I began having dreams of plastic extrudate morphing into strands of paint. That was the key. Through much trial and error, failure and success, I came up with a couple of approaches that I think allows paint to express its own identity. I call them Freed paintings – see examples here.
One of my approaches allows me to make transparent strands and sheets of uncolored acrylic medium. I have never seen this before. Tinted strands imbued with color yet retaining their transparent quality is another affect I can achieve with my process and is also something I have never seen before. Freed Painting is proving to be a huge new field in which I can explore and play. Still, I am having trouble getting people to understand what I am doing and how/why the resulting paintings are so different from those made with “traditional” methods.
I have talked with a few gallery directors who have told me that my work is strong and interesting, but then proceed to get into Post-Modern dissertations and reference artists like Olga DeAmaral or Aiko Tezuka. I remind them that these artists work with textiles where my focus is on paint and its liberation.
Recently I had a gallery director tell me that he didn’t think that my approach liberated paint as much as I claimed because the strands still require strength members to exist in their suspended state. I think that director is missing the point. Encapsulated strength members are a necessity. Thankfully, they are concealed within the paint/medium. Each strand that makes up my paintings exists freely in three-dimensional space. This is not true of traditional paintings. Can you peel a sfumato layer off the Mona Lisa? No, you cannot. Can you remove a drip from Pollock’s Lavender Mist? No, you can’t. Can you remove a strand from a Freed painting? In most cases, yes! Now many may say, “so what”. I contend, that it is a big deal. That is a big difference. Freed paintings project off the wall. The strands are visually accessible so they can be viewed in near 360 degrees. This is not the case with paintings on canvas/board/whatever. That is two-dimensional presentation. Something different is happening to paint when it is handled with the Freed painting process and the resulting paintings are magically different than anything the world has ever seen.