A Painting Is a Presence

A painting is a presence. Not that it has presence, though it does. We’re talking about good paintings, real paintings; whatever any of that might mean, in them presence is an essential quality. Maybe quality isn’t the right word…. Is a being reducible to its qualities? Is presence something beyond quality as well as number? … Continue reading A Painting Is a Presence

"Rodger's Island, Lubec, Maine," oil on panel, 14.25" x 11.5" © Antonio Dias

A Painting is not an Image.

We are swamped by images. This site is full of images. Images of paintings are not paintings. I would say the reverse is also true: Paintings are not images. An image is an illustrated idea. It is a sign for something we wish to hold onto. In this way an image is like a verbal … Continue reading A Painting is not an Image.

"On Top" oil on canvas, 8" x 6" © Antonio Dias

Painting is not an additive process

It's hard talking/writing about painting. Everything about painting is hard, except for the gifts of grace to be found there. I've been struggling with how to find a way to talk about pervasive failures in painting that strike me as symptomatic of our time illuminating broader misunderstandings of what it is to be. It presents itself … Continue reading Painting is not an additive process

Painting Air

Everything is in everything. I've come across this statement in Rancière's Ignorant Schoolmaster. Everything is in everything. It hits home with me as a painter, directly, viscerally. It's clear when we look at a Cezanne, for example. It's there in the inter-relationships of color, the way form is carved from a field of space. The … Continue reading Painting Air

Mysterious Foundations of Truth

If the things themselves are holy, it is in the gaps between them, the form of their unstable, shifting relationships from which we uncover the sacred. The details grow to something greater. The mystery of representation is that it can never quite get at the thing itself. The mystery deepens insomuch that, nonetheless, in its … Continue reading Mysterious Foundations of Truth

"Reflections" 7.5" x 12" oil on panel, © Antonio Dias

Immersion, Quality, Presence

I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page, … Continue reading Immersion, Quality, Presence

Still Life with Skull & Candlestick, Paul Cezanne

On Cezanne, Part II

Cezanne's early paintings tended to be thick, clotted, muddy. He was pushing to set down so much. More than he had the means to express. His paintings, at times, appeared ugly. And yet, when we look at any of his early work, we cannot deny its expressive qualities. No matter how un-virtuosic his execution, the … Continue reading On Cezanne, Part II

What Makes it Art? Guston Quotes, Part II

What is seen and called the picture is what remains - an evidence. Even as one travels in painting toward a state of 'unfreedom' where only certain things can happen, unaccountably the unknown and free must appear. Philip Guston So much packed into these two lines. Let's begin with "an evidence." This is at the … Continue reading What Makes it Art? Guston Quotes, Part II

What makes it Art, Responding to Philip Guston, Part I

There comes a point when the paint doesn't feel like paint. I don't know why. Some mysterious thing happens. I think you have all experienced it... What counts is that the paint should really disappear, otherwise it's craft. Philip Guston It's all here. This may not be comprehensible to someone who doesn't paint, but it … Continue reading What makes it Art, Responding to Philip Guston, Part I

On Cezanne

Cezanne might be the most reassuring painter to those of us facing a canvas today. Not that he was in any way easy. His work is monumental. His personality was prickly, certainly not one to console anyone. The temper of a loner diabetic with deep sugar crashes and the rages this can bring on. But … Continue reading On Cezanne

A Glimmer of Eternity

Marks & Intention: How the complexity of relationships builds a whole. Every mark made on a canvas is a trace of an intention, volition encoded. Beyond position and value they give clues to direction, velocity, color. No matter how loosely made few marks appear just to have "happened.” Of those, most fail to be recognizable, … Continue reading A Glimmer of Eternity

"Ella" oil on canvas with attached wood, © Antonio Dias

Signs and Extended Metaphor

Signs pull apart the totality of perception. Tearing holes in the field of relationships. Stopping the eye and the mind. Forcing a precipitation of some part held in opposition. This post is illustrated by a series of images of my work from various "genres" and across the span of three decades. This essay begins to … Continue reading Signs and Extended Metaphor

The Studio Visit, Shoal Hope

An excerpt from my novel, Shoal Hope: Albert slaps a quarter down on the counter. Swivels on his stool. A half-chewed toothpick in his mouth. “Thanks!” The soda-man replies, “Thank you!” Crossing a dozen steps to the door and onto the street, “Gotta get Peter to agree.” Still early. The low sun hits him squarely … Continue reading The Studio Visit, Shoal Hope

Between Wanting and Finding, a Cross-post from Horizons of Significance

There is a point at the start of a painting when there is a precariousness between what the painting "is to be about" and the first touches of what is actually there. Something I'm only arriving at now is that the former, while of great interest and concern at the start, is of no account. … Continue reading Between Wanting and Finding, a Cross-post from Horizons of Significance

Dwelling and Conviviality in Art

Ivan Illich's work turns on two related concepts. One is of our need to dwell, to inhabit a home, to have a place. The other is our need for conviviality. We cannot exist in isolation. We are vulnerable and part of everything as everything is part of us. I've come to relate these two principals … Continue reading Dwelling and Conviviality in Art

"Hominid Skull," Graphite on paper, 11" x 14"

What Happens When Avant Garde Leaves the New Academy Behind?

Avant Garde. We all know what that means! We learned it in school! There was always something of a cognitive dissonance, sitting in a slide-show survey class and taking notes to regurgitate on a test about how the modern avant garde was – and therefore supposedly still is – so transgressive! The old story about … Continue reading What Happens When Avant Garde Leaves the New Academy Behind?

Learning to See, Scratching at the Truth

"and the stones show me the way….” I'm involved in a few conversations on the needfulness of art. This fragment of a quotation from Carl Jung seems an appropriate place to begin. In a time when the hot-house strains of art criticism that have so long been the "High-brow" approach to questions of art join … Continue reading Learning to See, Scratching at the Truth