Over the past few months I’ve put focused almost exclusively on producing minimalist paintings. And now I think it’s time to explore the opposite end of the compositional spectrum: what I call “maximalist” paintings. (It’s not my term, but it’s what I call that part of my work.)
One of my favorite maximalist abstract compositions, Ultraam Aeterrix, from 2005. More like this in my flickr gallery.
To be honest, I think I’ve hit a wall with minimalism…for now. But I will come back to it at some point in the near future, I am sure. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone back and forth between minimalism and maximalism in the recent past.
I feel the way I do for two reasons:
One, the minimalist designs I’ve produced recently aren’t blowing my mind. For me, minimalism is a sensibility, a way of thinking, a way of making. The process of designing minimal compositions is very rewarding, in itself. But I’ve found that the end product doesn’t quite reach the intensity I originally sought.
Two, maximal abstract compositions are a blast to make, because they are often generated through improvisation. They afford seemingly infinite room for combinations of colors, lines and shapes, which excite the eye and fatigue the retina. Sources of inspiration are limitless. And to top it off I can give them perfectly strange names, like I Got Distracted by the Grass and Still Life with Inverted Florida Maritime and Diamonds.
I look forward to giving shape to the mental pictures I am currently carrying in everyday life. I see bizarre combinations of patterns, fluorescent colors and blown-apart logos. I see horizons of twisted significances and a color wheel that is spinning out of control!
I look forward to showing you the progress of this exploration quite soon.
Innovation means failure is inevitable
One of the things that has motivated me to paint was the idea that I was innovating: pushing new territory. That’s what got me going when I started 14 years ago. I wanted to make stuff that had never been seen before. I wanted people to experience work that was completely unhinged from reality. It was nonrepresentational and nonsensical.
When I paint a minimal painting, I get caught up in things like surface and lines. Minimalist painting is a purely visual experience. There is nothing to “read” on the painting.
It’s difficult, however, for me to try to innovate with minimalist painting. I have the horrible feeling that it’s already been done. No matter what I paint, it reminds me of something else. This may or may not be true in reality, but it feels that way.
With maximalism, anything goes. I can try to make things that I know for certain have never been seen before. I may triumph, I may roll the canvas up and hide it. The potential to innovate is there, however, and that’s what attracts me to it. Failure is part of the process.