Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A few words from James Brooks

The following artistic statement, written by James Brooks in 1952, suggests a perspective that has relevance well beyond its most immediate subject matter, painting.
    My painting starts with a complication on the canvas surface, done with as much spontaneity and as little memory as possible.  This then exists as the subject.  It is as strange as a new still life arrangement and as confusing as any unfamiliar situation.  It demands a long period of acquaintance during which it is observed both innocently and shrewdly.  Then it speaks, quietly, with its own peculiar logic.  Between painting and painter a dialogue develops which leads rapidly to the bare confrontation of two personalities.  At first a rhythm of the painting is modified, then a chain of formal reactions sets in that carries painting and painter through violent shifts of emphasis and into sudden unfamiliar meanings.
    At some undetermined point the subject becomes the object, existing independently as a painting.
    There is no [more] forthright a declaration, and no shorter path to man's richness, nakedness and poverty than the painting he does.  Nothing can be hidden on its flat surface -- the least private as well as the most personal of worlds.  It is unforeseen, disquieting, inevitable and necessary.  It says little to those occupied with only its peripheral aspects, so interesting to talk and write about.  It will not return to nature, as it is a part of nature.  Its meaning is carried in its relationship, and the shapes, colors and things in it exist not as separate identites at all, but as carriers.  The impuse they transmit through the painting is its spirit, image and meaning.
     James Brooks, 1952