William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#41 - An Invitation to Witness "The Pursuit of Beauty"

View East I from 915

View East II from 915

                                                             View East from 915 - Sketch

Fellow Art Lovers:

I promise that I’m not going to send you a blog entry every other day. But I’ve made some progress that I want to share with you.

As you may have noticed, I’ve become enamored by urban scenes from the 4th floor of the famous building, 915 Artists, where I happen to have a studio. While painting one cityscape after another, I reflected on some of the ideas I mentioned in my last blog entry, in particular the idea that when I have a canvas in front of me, my only challenge is to make that limited space an object of beauty. Easily said, but not easily accomplished.

One tactic to help me move closer to that goal is to push myself, to stop before I declare a painting finished, and ask myself which one step or which several steps could I take to move my work closer and closer to the ideal of beauty.  To not give up until I move my work closer and closer to that ideal.  

I did just that, and I believe I made a few more baby steps closer to that ideal. The first image you see is of another view looking east from our famous building. I was tempted to tell myself, “Oh, this is fine.” But no I struggled on to move it further. The same with the second image, which is a more simplified painting, which I hope has its own style and power. The third image is a sketch, which I thought I'd throw in just to give you an idea of the different ways the same scene can be represented. 

Please tell me what you think.

You can do that on line, or in person, because we’re having another Open Studio event. It’s on the Saturday and the Sunday, the 27th and 28th of April, from noon to 6 pm, on both days. I’ll send you more explanations, but just rest assured that the address is – as always – Studio # 407, 915 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19123.

That means you can actually view the works and tell me in person.

Now, just to return to another idea I talked about earlier – the parallels among the various artistic methods of self-expression. Most often, as I work, I listen to classical music. While painting these two works, I thought about those parallels. Therefore, I want to share an event with you.     

Months ago, a friend invited me to a concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  It was a wonderful concert, conducted by the new musical director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the pieces were Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7. I’ll leave all of the musical interpretation to those with more knowledge than I have.  But I want to explain to you that the Bruckner piece gave me some more ideas about a subject I’ve written about before – the correspondences among different art forms – painting, sculpture, photography on the one side, and music, drama, film, dance and literature on the other.

Why did I set up these two classes?  Well, one reason is that the first class is instant; in painting, photo and the rest, you see what you get in one fell swoop – no waiting. In the other - music, drama, etc. – the development is linear; what you respond to in the work advances over time. So, in a sense, painting has an advantage; the viewer sees it all at once, and he or she either loves it at once, or doesn’t. But painting also has a disadvantage; I (or any other painter) only has one moment to give the viewer pleasure. There’s no, ”It started slow, but it really worked up to something.”

Beyond this, Bruckner’s symphony really got me thinking in visual and painting terms. There were moments when the brass carried a strong theme, which was strengthened by the strings playing pieces of scales within those brass notes.  Just like a major brushstroke, and then some sort of a touch with another color to augment the force.

There were huge contrasts of power and lilting lightness, and I could see the contrasting brushstrokes in different areas of the painting. And, at one point, the oboe and the clarinet took over and played these exquisite melodies, and I could see finely traced designs in bright colors in the middle of strong brushstrokes. 

What does all of this come down to? We – all of us – get too involved in our pursuits, we see the world in their terms.  Should I also enjoy music on its terms? I do in many ways.  But maybe I do lose perspective. When you’re a hammer, you see the world as nails.   

Why did I go through all of this? And what does it have to do with what you see above?

What you see above is a progression toward simplification. One of the paintings is stylized, but still not too far from reality.  And the other painting is simple and moves closer to abstraction. And the second one is an attempt to present you with that “Big Bang” moment, to hit you so that you say either you love it or you don’t. To use the advantages of painting, to hand you the whole package, so that you react either positively or negatively, or maybe not at all.  Yes, I can see a few musical instruments playing there. And as I said above, the second painting is more in line with my last blog entry, where I tried to turn one space into a thing of beauty.

If you made it to here, thanks for listening. Even if you didn’t read all of this, thanks for your time.


William Kosman