Reflection on Grid Paintings

     With the first grid painting I ever did, “Pale Composition (Horizon of the Senses)”, I drove to the art store and bought two things: the biggest canvas they sold, and the smallest brush they had in stock.
     In retrospect, I understand the tension of the grid painting to be the relation between the size of the canvas and the brush – the canvas becomes large in relation to the small brush, the brush becomes small in relation to the large canvas. This might seem obvious, but consider that the canvas could become small if the brush were larger.
     Meaning, communication, and expression occurs because of this relation between the canvas and the brush – this is the capability of the grid painting – the expression is what occurs between canvas and brush. The difference between sizes is the interval that needs to be traversed – the size of the gap is the monstrous demon to be conquered.
     The difference in sizes is also the measurement of time. The fixed interval of size difference between canvas and brush allows us to set a limit on time, to understand how much time it would take to paint in this speed, in this interval of sizes. To understand that the interval is potentially infinite and capable of being rearranged, helps us understand the same about time. To stretch the imagination: the infinitely small and the infinitely large become the same thing. What is left is the human ability  to fix the relation of differences, to return within limits, and affirm life by returning. The return also runs the risk of becoming infinite – but in the case of the painting, it is never finished, only abandoned.

     Of course, these aspects and fixed differences are subject to rearrangement –   but in the painting each aspect is frozen in place to be seen & felt. This is the force of the painting – the bridge that was built through repetition of the return between two fixed differences. Pale composition is the conquering of the monstrous demon and reaching the limit of what can be sensed of the metaphysical interval between two differences.


Pale Composition (Horizon of the Senses) – 2012 – Michael Burris Johnson

Pale Composition (Horizon of the Senses) {Detail}

Pale Composition (Horizon of the Senses) {Detail}

About Michael Johnson

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