It’s great to hear from you. I remember reading the essay you sent the link for a while back on your blog and appreciating your perspective on Mr. Schnabel and the response his presence on the screen elicited from the audience. I think your observation of his offense being acting ’without irony or embarrassment’ is key to understanding both the man, the painter and how he is still perceived, to a degree, today. I also wanted to point out that the response to the broken plates as it has changed over the years has not deterred him from revisiting the approach in new work exhibited this winter at Pace. [BTW- I think the ‘Rose Paintings’ photograph quite beautifully, but have no desire to see them in person as I know I will be so disappointed!]
Your remarks are very helpful for me in thinking through how I present the idea of the persona as a tool to be applied in a painter’s studio practice.
I’d like to clarify that the application of personas is meant as a means to opening up a painter’s practice to possible ways of working that might otherwise be inaccessible due to a number of reasons; including the ways he or she has been trained (either formally or auto didactically) to engage with his or her practice, habits/routines fallen into over a long period, or even sticking to what has been the most successful path for reasons not necessarily driven by the art.
In this regard, ultimately the tool ‘persona’ should not be viewed as a single, one-size-fit-all tool. Rather it should be seen as tool that comes in many different shapes, sizes and materials to use in specific yet similar tasks; for example, a set of screwdrivers or box filled with different types of drill bits. If the painter has a particular task -a new approach he or she wishes to pursue, then the idea would be to look for the appropriate screwdriver, or drill bit.
However, the painter is not always aware of what he or she is hoping to bring into his or her practice; what might be missing -only the feeling that something might be missing, something more could be brought in; or even to a painting practice in which there is no intention or (overt) desire to bring something additional new into it in terms of technique, materials, or concepts. Perhaps the painter is only looking for another way to have some fun in the studio-a type of cross training which keeps the painter in the studio, doing what he or she does but from a different position- a way to play. In this case the painter will first need to explore the different screwdrivers or bits in the box to see what they do, how they might be helpful to the process, or simply, which ones would be fun to try out.
I guess the first example, when the painter knows what it is he or she would like to bring into his or her practice, the tool ‘persona’ could be analogous to the use of role play in various forms of therapy. However, this is not necessarily the intention of my research. I am more interested going back further to look at where the idea of role play as it is used in therapy comes from -play.
There is a lot of talk about ‘play’ and ‘playfulness’ among artists and other creative types. The feedback often heard in critiques is ’to play’ yet, why does this come up so often? Naturally playful types will find their way to play -and these people might find it odd to not only be told ‘play’ but to be presented with tools to play. For instance, Mr. Schnabel does not come across as a painter that needs to be told to or given the tools to play -he finds his own; whether or not the results of his playing bring forth interesting paintings I’m not going to comment on, but I do think this openness to play has led to him making some great films and maybe even the key to sticking with it.
Still, it seems that often people (not just painters or artists in general) find themselves in a position where they hear ‘play’. Back to the screwdrivers and drill bits- there are many ways to play and what is right for one job will not necessarily work (as efficiently or successfully) for another. Everyone has their own tool box filled with their own, customized tools and only the individual can decide which tools are getting the job done. [This is where the whole ‘authenticity’ thing comes in…]
To your experience, I can only say that it sounds like you know what you need to do -writing in the third person or other voices seems a playful way to start! The nice thing about trying on different personas is it is like having a number of shirts, shoes or hats in the closet. What might not be right for today may be perfect for a day next month or next year, so it’s nice knowing that you can find the article you’re looking for in the back of the closet or drawer when you need it. Who knows what else you’ll find if you dig around…maybe a pair of silk pajamas and a brandy snifter of your own…or something even ‘bolder, brasher and unapologetic’?
I look forward to talking with you again soon…and look forward to looking at more art with you, including your own (whoever might be standing behind you as it pours out onto the canvas or paper)*.