I recently finished a small book of Ross Bleckner‘s writings called Examined Life: Writings 1972-2007. I have always like Ross Bleckner’s paintings and was curious to know what he had to say about his process and his general philosophy behind his painting practice. I get a sense from what he writes and talks about that he’s in a search for personal spirituality that is free from irony or humor and that his investigations into the materiality and alchemy of painting is both self-fulfilling and social. His work also explores memory, loss and change and he often uses symbology and abstraction to create intensely haunting and dark, moody paintings that are visually elusive yet strangely alluring.
Here are some good quotes from the book:
“I’m trying to introduce a certain kind of sentiment into my paintings without necessarily being sentimental. I would like to make paintings that are moving and touching, but I’m very suspicious of the ways they could be manipulating, or be cliches.”
“I’ve always thought that what is hidden (repressed) is as interesting, if not more so, than what is expressed; in as much as artists have a dialogue with an audience, they also have a dialogue with themselves.”
“Symbolist imagery is double-edged. It’s trick imagery. There’s a sense of theatricality that almost undermines any seriousness.”
“Pop Art is no longer the Pop Art of the sixties and seventies, which glorified and fetishizes product; Pop Art today, and the artists who are able to address in some way or another the cultural paradigm that shifted toward that sense of imminent loss and mortality during the eighties with the onset of the AIDS pandemic. Mortality became the new Pop Art.”
“Sometimes I hate this process that seems to make me feel I should be without friends, so that I can retreat and look around at my paintings and say,: “at least I will always have this.”
“I like somber paintings because through them we can feel the need for change.”