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"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 [...]

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"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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

"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 [...]

The Studio Visit, Shoal Hope

An excerpt from my novel, Shoal Hope: Albert slapped down a quarter on the counter, swiveling away on his stool. A half-chewed toothpick clenched in his jaw, “Thanks!” The counter-man replied with clipped, professional courtesy, “Thank you.” Albert stepped onto the street. A low sun shimmered between a filigree of branches. Leaves at their peak [...]

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. [...]

"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 [...]

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 [...]

Notes on the Sources of Art

This piece, a cross-post from Horizons of Significance, has grown during the writing, pushed ahead by the ambition of its title, only slightly modified by the insertion of the word "Notes…" I'm resisting the urge to break it up into my customary 1,500 words. I need to break that habit as much as we all [...]