Patience

Patience - 42" x 84" - Oil on Canvas - 2014-2015 - Michael Burris Johnson

Patience – 42″ x 84″ – Oil on Canvas – 2014-2015 – Michael Burris Johnson

Patience (Left Side of Canvas)

Patience (Left Side of Canvas)

Patience (Right Side of Canvas)

Patience (Right Side of Canvas)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience (detail)

Patience

This painting is a visualization and enactment of the struggle to pass through a rigid structure and hold in tact an honest affirmation of life.

There is a blending of two distinct styles of painting that do not normally appear in harmony. Each style is used in opposition to the other, but simultaneously contribute to a unified expression. The textured blooms are imagined to be passing through the grid, into reality, the world of the viewer.

Each bloom (both gridded and textured) has a unique identity, but is also intertwined in a series of attachments and relations, both immediate & tangible, and compositional & distant.

This painting caused a reflection on the line of beauty, or, caused me to wonder how it is that beauty travels. It seems to me an invisible sort of phenomenon, traveling through inspiration from one vessel to the next in unpredictable ways. But for beauty to become manifest there has to be a certain balance – a certain struggle, a certain amount of work and sacrifice, but also a certain effortlessness or grace, something given – the ability for both the work and the worker to become detached from all earthly worry. I like what Rilke says, “beauty is the beginning of something terrifying”. The role of the artist might be to find the right balance between working just hard enough and remaining just empty enough to allow something beautiful to pass through and become manifest visually in the art. I am interested in the tension between the appearance of beauty to the senses, the moment of recognition, and the existence of beauty on an invisible plane, a force alive, simultaneously searching and sought after.

I was inspired to make this painting during a moment when I was questioning what was worth making at all – I entered the woods one day in early spring with a question, I emerged with an answer, although it was not fully formed. Initially all I saw was a horizontal canvas, I saw green and white, and I knew the title would be Patience. I had a feeling, the feeling that needed to be worked through and made external. I made the canvas almost immediately; gridded it out into small squares and began work.

I dwelt in the space of the canvas for several months before I had any idea what would occur. There were swirls of grey-green and white, and then verticals of a green-blue,  hills of white, gold specks scattered. Green began to dominate the top, emerald green. Emerald green began to appear everywhere in my life, it kept occurring in noticeable ways, like a haunting, or a blessing. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, the way a color began to present itself to me, over and over in all different ways: people’s clothing, food, soap, buildings, books, reflections, scraps of paper, etc. Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation, but at the time each occurrence felt like fuel and confidence, a secret between me and another plane of existence.

Around this time I took a trip to the Met to see Jules Bastien-Lepage’s Joan of Arc. I spent the day lost in the Met’s labyrinth looking for ghosts in the mirrors of the staged rooms and on my way out I said, well, let me pay a quick visit to Vincent. I rounded the corner to the room of van Gogh’s and tucked in the corner of the room was a painting of his white roses on the emerald green background and I swear the painting knocked the wind right out of me.

I feel now that this was the moment of a profound recognition, that in that instant, for that single split-second, that painting had been created and was there just for me, and for me alone. A moment later, a woman gasped, and said, my god, that’s beautiful! It was her moment then.

Patience, for me, refers both to what it required to make this painting, and also the patience of the line of beauty that exists beyond me, lying in wait.

I finished this painting on New Years Day, 2015.

– Michael

Portrait after finished Patience, New Years Day, 2015

Portrait after finished Patience, New Years Day, 2015

IMG_6502 2 copy

About viewfromaburrow

viewfromaburrow.com www.michaelburrisjohnson.com

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