Over at Visual Discrepancies, Brent Hallard talks with lifelong ice hockey fan and St. Lawrence University art professor Kasarian Dane about the painting process. Dane’s paintings are on view at Pharmaka through tomorrow in “TRANSformal,” a group show featuring nine artists in a dialogue about abstract painting. Here’s an excerpt of Kasarian’s conversation with Hallard.
Brent: I think you said somewhere that no work is really absolutely complete. But there is a state isn’t there… I don’t know… a state where you actually ‘feel’ that a work is succeeding? Can you pinpoint that, those moments… perhaps days pass before you decide… ‘OK’… ‘I’m happy with that!
Kasarian: Yes, there is a state that I’m aiming for. While the painting process is exciting, it’s not aimless wandering so to speak. But to pinpoint that state is very difficult. I spend a lot of time looking near the end of the process, a lot of time just sitting and looking at the work. This can be difficult because my time in the studio is more limited these days, between teaching and family life. Sometimes when I get in the studio I just want to paint so badly, it can be challenging to get to the end of a group of paintings and just sit and look at them. In the past, I’ve used a sports metaphor to try and describe the state I’m aiming for: the Zone. Like when an athlete is really concentrating so intensely that they are performing at such a high level mentally, and everything is just clicking for them. I play goalie in ice hockey, so this is the state where the game just seems to move more slowly than usual, and you’re just on, stopping every shot. And mentally, it’s just like everything is so clear, so clear and so intense. I like this metaphor because I get to talk about hockey and it works nicely in an artist lecture! But this isn’t exactly it either, it’s not exactly the same, but it does involve vision, like your eyes are really working with your mind and body, really connected.
It’s like when you put a group of colors together, and it’s just right, it all comes together. There’s an aspect of unity or totality, where though you may have a panel made up of several different colors, it holds together as a whole, it reads as one unified work. And the whole becomes something more than just this color sitting next to that color, something happens that just clicks, and the colors open up and become more than the two or more than the group when put together. Really, I think this is what makes the work more than color exercises, so to speak. I mean they are color exercises, but when the paintings really work, there’s something more there than a formal arrangement of color, or so I believe.
I went to hear David Batchelor talk at MoMA last spring during the Color Chart exhibition, and he was talking about how his new work was trying to get color that was “uncontained”, by using light to bring color outside of the boundaries of a rectangular, “contained” color work, reflecting colored light into the room and so forth. While this made sense to me, my thought at the time was that if you use color in a certain way, it does become “uncontained”, it expands, it becomes bigger than the surface it sits on, even though it is physically “contained” on a limited surface, like a 24” x 48” panel, it seems at times to open up and expand beyond it’s physical dimensions. The work takes on a presence that is bigger than it’s physical size, vaster, more expansive. Maybe that’s the state I aim for, it’s tricky, it’s elusive, and it can be difficult to recognize.
“TRANSformal,” Pharmaka, Los Angeles, CA. Through May2. Artists include Kasarian Dane, Stephan Fritsch, Brent Hallard, Leo Hurzlmeier, Robin McDonnell, Mel Prest, Richard Schur, Nancy White, John Zurier.