In the '90s, when I came out to Los Angeles, West Coast abstraction was a revelation to me. Back then, it seemed like the major concern on the East Coast was with the objectification of painting. The discussion back there was very much indebted to a negative critique of art. In Los Angles, by contrast, there was still a generation of artists interested in the trip-out or zone-out aspect of a painted field.
In short, you could say my work is about what happened when the sensibility of objectification collided with my discovery of the power of the painted surface. On the one hand, there was no way for me to turn the clock back on abstract painting. As excited as I was by the potential for these newfound dynamic meditative qualities, I also needed to remind myself that my initial inspiration had nothing to do with making a regular painting.
Early on, in fact, I did not even want the work to look like art at all. Anything but. To me, painting, like drawing or sculpture, was an academic category. Only later, when my way forward became more clearly about confounding those sorts of categories did the pieces strangely begin to look more recognizable as art.
The challenge became to work with the inherited emblems of negative critique, such as those offered by fragmentation or collage, to show how they could just as easily be used in a positive manner to enhance the painted surface.
It made me realize what I was trying to do, although through different means, was not unlike the Renaissance Masters who took the Spirit of the Holy Ghost for their subject. I am after something very similar. The only difference is that I do not wish to paint a living picture of the universe. My subject in the most recent paintings is more specifically the life that runs through it.
© Daniel Mendel-Black, November 2015, Los Angeles, CA