The Fusion of Two Worlds by Carol Itzkowitz Neiman
"Originality is the art of concealing your sources"
The quote is not always accurate. In fusing art forms you can create an original. Is it important to conceal all your sources? When artists begin their creations, how can they totally divorce themselves from either what they have seen, experienced or found intriguing?
How does anyone develop? It is through our experiences that we become who we are. To try and distance ourselves, rather than embrace, are we allowing a façade to take over? The definition of the word "façade", according to Webster's dictionary is, "…an artificial or false appearance".
In art as in literature we are taught to start with what we know. Over time, with more and more experience, what we know becomes greater and so does the expression of our art.
In our statement: Who are the Brushmeisters of Brooklyn, we write two important details; that our commonality is Japanese Brush painting, while the Brush is our symbol. Here is where the word FUSION is so important. Where John and Eva come from the Japanese Brush Painting tradition first, I come from the Western tradition first. Asian art found me, not the other way around. In my latest paintings, I have gone back to working in Oil and have found a new richness that I could never have found without the experience of Brush Painting. Even with regard to how I first approach the painting come directly from my new experience.
Each media has its pluses and minuses. The Ink used in Sumi-E is permanent and dries rather quickly, in many ways it is unforgiving. Once down it cannot be covered or changed. Permanent watercolors and gouaches are the same. However oil paint is very forgiving. It allows the painter to lay out their painting, make changes over a longer period of time, or wipe away before it dries. The canvas is also forgiving; it is strong and allows for many layers. The thin papers used in Asian art, while some stronger than others, can be worked on just so long until it breaks apart.
Similarities also exist. The layering of washes in Asian art allow for immense depth; the same holds true for watercolor on western heavy papers and oil on canvas and boards. However, only in oil have I rediscovered that I can create all, the brush strokes of the Asian techniques combined with the layering of the thin washes of oil: "allowed to dry" between coats, have been a wonderful and exceptional experience. Could I have used the techniques of the masters of the Renaissance, yes, however not with the fluidity of line, and contour that I now have enjoyed through my study of Asia techniques.
The following two paintings are examples of what I am saying. In Iridescence (fig 1) the entire painting was laid out in thin linear washes of pigment and linseed oil. Only after it dried did I begin to work with the color. It was an exceptional experience as I could actually see how the two forms of art I was using separately became one. The same can be said for Purple Glory (fig 2). The only difference was that towards the end I relied more on western techniques, of form and structure.
In no way will that stop me from continuing my journey into Asian Art techniques, on the contrary each of my disciplines only add to the overall content of my work. Thereby stripping away any façade of being an either/or artist, but the beginning of a new structure that shows my "sources" to create my own sensibilities.
* Byrne, Robert; 1,911 Best things anybody said; 1988
Irridescence - fig 1
Purple Glory - fig 2
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