FIGURES AND LANDSCAPES, February 2 – 27, 2016
Opening reception: February 6, 2016, 3-6pm
The title of Doug Anderson’s 5th show at Blue Mountain Gallery is “Figures and Landscapes.” In this group of paintings he continues his exploration of the possibilities of ink on paper. The simplicity and directness of the technique is very amenable to an open-ended, intuitive approach such as his. Yet as simple as the technique appears, it also can be infinitely subtle; one can spend a whole lifetime mastering the expressive potential of ink on paper. In traditional Chinese painting, for example, an artist may spend decades or even his whole career mastering the painting of bamboo.
Artist statement: Barnett Newman said that we must speak about painting because painting cannot be spoken about. To me this means that we talk around painting. We talk about approaches, techniques and mediums hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive beast. I don’t insist on any particular interpretation of my work; my paintings contain as many references to the natural or unnatural world as there are viewers to interpret them. At the same time, language is not sufficient to convey what paintings express. If figures emerge, or landscapes, or monsters or pure noise I am not overly concerned; the point for me is simply to paint as freely as I can within my self-imposed limitations. This open-ended approach both sustains my sense of discovery and allows viewers to bring their own imaginative perspectives to the images. Infinite interpretations are possible, but to find figures, or landscapes, in these images is only one way to try to bridge the gulf between language and art.
Recent Exhibition: Douglas Anderson: Recent Work December 26 – January 26 2013
The artist returns to the gallery for his first solo show since 2006 with a series of abstract images on paper. Drawing his inspiration from the masters of calligraphy of China and Japan, who sometimes describe their approaches as “walking” or “running” styles, Anderson, in these new paintings, has created whole universes with no more than black ink or pencil. He is attracted to the metaphor walking/running and thinks it describes perfectly his attempts to draw at the speed of thought, which is sometimes slow and ponderous and sometimes faster than the hand can record.
Also included in the exhibition are Anderson’s drawings with graphite pencil. There is a fertile interchange between to the two contrasting mediums. The pencil is hard, thin, and dry; it is a line moving through space. The brush, by contrast, is wet and flexible, creating hairlines and fat blots and everything in between. The brush must keep moving while the pencil can linger. Once again the metaphor of walking and running applies in a slightly different way, in the contrast between the mediums.
I begin my painting in an improvisational spirit. I don’t want to know where I’m going: that would be too boring. It’s as if one set out on one’s bicycle with no plan or destination in mind, but with just a simple desire to see what one will see. When I studied with Joe Stapleton back in the late 70’s I remember him saying, “The more you know, the less you know” and “the answer is there is no answer”. Those bits of cryptic wisdom have stayed with me more than anything else I was told and instruct me to this day. I always try to avoid the literal, or an “Idea”, and that, I suppose, is my sole criterion for a free-floating approach.