Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The Genesis of the Collage
About 15 years ago I was sitting around with my kids doing cutting up magazines and doing crafts to make collages. I loved the random, unselfconscious spontaneity of they created. Being the ‘figurative’ kind of guy that I am, my pieces looked like naïve attempts at cubism. At that time I was beginning to feel a little stifled in terms of my own subject matter. Years before someone had suggested that maybe I should bring the background forward in my paintings and have the figurative subject matter recede into it. I was exploring patterning and shapes.
But these collages were entirely different. With their colorful geometric forms they became abstract. I was intrigued and wondered what they might look like as paintings. Unlike my typical nonlinear organic method of painting most of which was by trial and error the subject matter of these collages was already resolved. It was an entirely different process for me. To create the compositions all I needed to do was directly copy the collages. There was practically no thinking involved, like painting by numbers.
And thus I departed into an entirely new direction, leaving my representationalist (realistic) edge behind. At this same time I was also (lackadaisically) represented by a gallery who when I invited the director over to see my new work he was underwhelmed by it to say the least. It was still figurative oriented but abstract and far less literal than what he had expected of me. The result is he dropped representing me almost cold turkey. So much for loyalty.
It took me a couple years to work through this experiment. As the process evolved I found that I was willing to stretch my creative boundaries, to explore a broader range of ideas. In the end my cubist ‘bender’ directly affected how I reassessed not only my older work but how I was able to reintegrate this vision into everything that followed, not only in my painting but in particular my work on paper, almost all of which now involves the use of collage.