Follow the white rabbit

Manel made us paint like we had the devil on our heels yesterday. Throwing assignments at us at a fast pace, made us all work like crazy. This one was: ‘paint Jezus with a white rabbit’. So I did.

JC and WR

Nothing matters II

For this week’s LAB class we had to do our own monochromes. It felt awkward. Did some in acrylics and made some prints. Let’s say… nothing.

Monochrome - acrylics

Monochrome - print

Monochrome - acrylics

Dutch Light

Every time I get off the train in Den Helder before a visit to my beloved Texel I notice the light. It’s different, brighter, colours look more saturated, fresher. In tuesday’s LAB class we watched ‘Dutch Light’, a documentary about the famous light in Dutch art – is it real or is it a myth? Of course watching this film my geographer’s brain started working and theorizing about what could be the case but I’ll have to tap into another vein… the one that makes me vibrate and want to go out when the light is so clear that colours seem almost unnaturally saturated, when buildings, landscape, clouds and the sky seem to be alive.

Nothing matters

I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I called Suprematism.

I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I called Suprematism (Kazimir Malevich)

Kazimir Malevich strongly believed in the supremacy of pure feelings in art. Had he been a writer, his book would probably have been gathering dust for decades by now. But he was a painter and he expressed his ideas in oils on canvas, causing a revolution in art by painting the first monochrome, aptly called Black Square, in 1915. From that moment on it was no longer necessary to paint a recognizable image.

Monochromes being the subject of last week’s LAB class at Dogtime I delved into the subject and discovered an amazing amount of artists had followed in Malevich’ footsteps. I knew many of them, but I was not aware they had also lingered in the void for a while, like for instance Robert Rauschenberg, who said “A canvas is never empty”. Likewise, we Dogtime students have to pass this stage, because we will be making our own monochromes. Let’s see how we emerge from the experience. As Matthew Collings put it, in modern art ‘nothing’ matters.

Rauschenberg - White Painting

Rauschenberg - White Painting

I’m glad Rauschenberg resurfaced from the void and gave the world his Combines.

Monogram, 1955-59. Freestanding combine

Rauschenberg famously erased a De Kooning, bringing drawing into the all-whites.

Out of the blue – not quite

In 2006 my art teacher Mariëtte Renssen was very enthusiastic when I told her I was going to Paris. I had to go see the Yves Klein exhibition in the Centre Pompidou. I had never heard of the guy, but who was I to doubt her? Did the google thing and found out the man was pretty big in monochrome painting, mostly blue. He even developed his own special brand of blue: YKB.

Definitely blue

Definitely blue

So… I went. Wasn’t blown away immediately, stunned may be a better word. Being surrounded by all YKB canvasses was a mind blowing experience that for some reason keeps coming back to me. Maybe the time to find out why has come. Yesterday our teacher Manel Esparbé i Gasca asked us take the plunge into monochrome painting. His class is called LAB and we’re supposed to do research, in books, on the internet and by trying our own hand at painting, taking photographs or making video’s. All this has to be logged to serve as a personal record, source of information and to share with others.

I’m used to sharing. For the past year I’ve been showing documentaries about art in my private salon for a small band of art-loving women. Of particular interest for the subject of monochromes is the fourth episode in the series “This Is Modern Art” by artist and art critic Matthew Collings, named “Nothing Matters”. It used to be on Youtube, some of the other episodes in the series still are and well worth taking a peek. Fellow students: you will be able to see the movie this week, just watch your inbox.