Went to a panel on Joan Mitchell related to the exhibition at Cheim & Read titled "Drawing into Painting" moderated by
|Installation: Cheim & Read Gallery|
Phong Bui with panelists Joyce Pensato, Louise Fishman and Mark Rosenthal. Whenever I go to panel discussions, I writhe in my seat and mutter under my breath, and always regret not asking questions and challenging some of what is said. I did enjoy hearing Louise Fishman and Joyce Pensato talk directly about their personal encounters with Joan Mitchell; how she was both admired and a mentor of sorts to the then young artists, and how JM's "tough/boy's club/drink them under the table" attitude could be inopportune and oppressive. I particularly appreciated that Louise Fishman did not feel the need to mythologize the artist, and individualized the discussion by interlacing personal history with its effect on her own subsequent artwork.
Phong Bui asked questions of the panel, wondering how they felt about this remark supposedly made by Mitchell: "Painting is like riding a bicycle with no hands", The panelists' responses were varied, but there was agreement that this statement exemplified Mitchell's utter confidence in her process and work. I on the other hand - a painter for many years - felt that utterance referred to the fact that artists are always taking risks...sometimes driving blind, zig-zagging off the path, control unleashed - and then if lucky the exhilarating freedom of discovery occurs.
I have some thoughts about Joan Mitchell's work, and when Phong Bui wondered whether nature influenced her? I wanted to shout out OF COURSE it did - she lived in the midst of verdant gardens in France; her surroundings were infused in her being and became the SOURCE material for her work. I also felt that Mitchell must have studied DETAILS of Monet's late works - the close-ups where we can see Monet's hand making marks gliding the paint with his brush, from the linear to more opaque massive forms - the weaving and overlay of color - both muscular and delicate - the dance of Drawing and Painting are equally important - they cannot be divided as they are inseparable.
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