January 29, 2009

Let's wake up the neighbors, let's turn up our amps
And we know we're used to without a plan
We can play a Stones song, sitting on a fence
And it'll sound pretty good, til I forget how it ends

Shannon Cannings, Trigger Happy, 2008

Cannings work is currently on display (through March 14) at Baltimore's Gallery Imperato.

* From an interview of Ed Ruscha. excerpt:

Question: At one point you mentioned that in the sixties, you were the biggest collector of your own work. What was that like?

Ruscha: There is more than a shred of truth there. It was about 1961 when I really got swinging into my own art. I had it for a few years before I exhibited it, and I didn't sell too much of my early work. Even during exhibits I would only sell one or two things. So I held on to quite a bit of my own work during the early years.

Question: Was there a painting or a drawing in which you felt you finally found your own voice in your work?

Ruscha: Yeah, one of the first things that I did was called Sweetwater. It was a half-abstract and half-figurative painting. The top half of the painting was a washy kind of abstraction, and there was a very clear, clean hairline that was done with ink that ran through the whole thing. The bottom half had the words Sweetwater which was the name of a town that I had hitchhiked through in Tennessee. I was doing those towns that I had visited while I was hitchhiking. I had a little voyage that I was on then.
Question: You have often commented that the diagonal line is an important element of your work. Do you use the diagonal because it automatically implies a sense of space or depth to the canvas, or because of its allusion to a vanishing point?

Ruscha: I always come back to something figurative. I am always reminded of those scenes in the movies that I saw as a kid where there would be a train approaching that would suggest people travelling. The train would start at the lower, right hand corner and then in two or three seconds it would zoom in with the noise of a train and cover the entire area of the screen. That experience seemed to stick with me. The diagonal for me is like the zoom of a train, it has affected me and I have based several paintings on those sensations. I will see where it takes me from here.
Question: Over the years you have made paintings out of both oil paint and acrylic paint. How do you choose your materials for a painting?

Ruscha: I do not use oil paint very much anymore. About twenty years ago, I began to move away from it and starting using acrylics. I consider the medium to be secondary. I could paint my pictures with oil paint if I wanted to, but I somehow found a friend with the acrylic paint. They seem to be easier for me to use. I never thought that I would make the switch. I was committed to oil paint, but now here I find myself using acrylics. (laughs)
Question: I was wondering if you have any advice for younger artists?

Ruscha: Max Ernst said the best thing ever, he said: "Cut off an ear." (laughs) That is his advice to young artists, and I can't do any better than that.

* Recent Independent article on Richard Yates.

* "Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you." -- Cyril Connolly


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