Artists talking

Artists are not actors, they don’t usually do well on video or in film. Most will admit that they never know what they’re doing, even after the work is finished. So unless you tape an art historian or critic, or happen on a garrulous and charismatic personage – maybe like Gulley Jimson – you’re flat out of luck if you’re looking for descriptions from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

But having said that, I’ve been a fan of Bill Maynes’ videos on artists since I discovered them a few years ago. His camera allows the artist full rein, without questions or structure.

For example: Lois Dodd – Painters are just lucky that they actually see things. Not everyone really seems to see the world that they’re living in. And It’s such a kick really – seeing things, you know?

Lois Dodd
View From Porch, Jan. 2009
Oil on masonite
17 5/8 x 14 3/4 inches

Lois Dodd
Sprirae in Bloom, 1984
Oil on masonite
12 x 14 inches

All Dodd paintings: Courtesy Alexandre Gallery, New York

Or Jake Berthot, who is opening at Betty Cuningham this week and has more to say than most: You become the servant to the painting. In the beginning you’re the boss. That’s about thinking, but it’s not about feeling. At a certain point, there’s no rationale…. there’s no system.

Jake Berthot. After Somei Satoh’s “Toward the Night”, 2008

Jake Berthot. Coming of the Passing, 2008
In making a painting, you can either be involved with a system or a method.
With a method – like Cézanne – who had a method of investigating or making a painting…Within that form/method is that at a certain point, you have to become the servant of the painting. The painting dictates what’s going to be done to it.

I’m working on single trees. And they really are just like portraits. With the paintings I’m working on now…paintings are more atmosphere, hanging onto landscape painting by a hair. What interests me is gaze and place.
Someone asked me about what my paintings were about and I said I wanted to paint silence before it disappears…..I can spend days without hearing a car go by. So it’s also about the quietness of that gaze.

Berthot lives in the Catskills, Dodd lives half the year in Maine. I envy that quiet – my view of woods is intact, but new development around the corner is creating a cacophony of noise all day long.

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2 Responses to Artists talking

  1. Jake Berthot’s comments remind me of another Painter, Forrest Moses, Moses describes being in a “zone” where the painting kind of takes over. He starts from a photograph but soon that is discarded
    and the painting seems to take on a path of its own path.
    When I am painting a large piece that is especially true. If you stay
    to close to an actual image the work may become “pretty” as Moses
    says, but loses it vitality and in the end its”reality”
    I’m heading into the city ti see Berthots show this week.

  2. I love this post! I especially like Berthot referring to his tree paintings as portraits. Also the quietness of the gaze. So much goes into a painting, emotions, thought, meditation, gazing.
    It is also an apt post because I was thinking of videotaping myself today talking about my art, oh boy….

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