Monday, October 22, 2007

translation

Both Lulu Meets God and Spending have a first person narration provided by a woman artist. Both of these artists are figurative painters and maybe even a little defensive about it. Characters abound (in especially Lulu) who are snobs about installation or performance or conceptual work and turn their noses up at painting. Especially figurative painting.

I can't help but notice, though, that figurative painting is very successful in these stories, sort of a "gotcha" moment...

And the road to masterpieces is slowly, finely detailed - the moments of observation, the translation, the pensive brush to the canvas, the method of a recording not photographic.

I did not think about it one way or another when I read Spending – Mary Gordon did a spectacular job of plugging into the artist’s mindset, especially the act of observation and drawing. But after reading another novel in which the artist draws representationally, I am wondering if indeed the road to abstraction (or collage, performance, video, installation, maybe anything else) is a difficult for the non-artist to bridge, to write about.

Any of these practices can be every bit the intense spiritual journey that figurative painting can be.

….I thought I was going to write about everyday ongoing struggles of feeling dissed, the gallery system, ceaseless distracting love affairs, yadda yadda yadda….

That's all there, but I also ended up writing a lot about art, about big shows and small, private works, and more than anything, the spiritual embrace necessary for at least this protagonist to cross over into a body of work which will matter.

I wonder if it is easier for the regular reader (whoever that is) to read about figurative art, to “get it” - ? Is it too big a leap to carry them to other mediums, other styles, and still maintain the vision? The translation is just easier. Perhaps the tone is too serious here, but writing a cynical work which makes fun of everything or is just lightly bitchy is not interesting to me. They are boring to read too.

3 comments:

Cre8Tiva said...

i love figurative...did not know ytou need to apoligise for it...no shame here...blessings, rebecca

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I like it too.
In the novels I've been reading, it's the narrator who is a bit defensive about the practice - but is the one, in the end, who sells out the show.
Part of what I am seeing here is an approachable way to writing about the visual creative process. Subject matter is still attached to things we can see.
I'm wondering if there are many novels which talk in detail about creating works in the abstract.
Thanks for visiting!

Eva

julie said...

Hi eva..
I purchased and read Spending a month ago on your recommendation thru this blog. I thoroughly saturated myself in this book, and was able to feel the passion behind the painting. I admit that NOW I have to go and get the Lulu one and read it. Even just so that I can comprehend your comparison!!! (good timing! I have to go to NYC next week. yawn...the train seems like the place for a good read)