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2022 Remix / Recap

I started the 2022 with a writing on Joan Mitchell. She was a storm system and in hindsight, so was this year. The truth is a windstorm, a turbulent, multi-cell system with vision. This is either Mitchell, or the passage of an immense chunk of time; the personification of one year. The memory of watching an approaching storm system from the humidity of your cellar was foregrounded in your consciousness, your mind buffed with an ember of the real, something might be triggered. The arrangement of relational parts, the cluster of negative ions barreled unpredictably towards your childhood home with a force that was severe, a sublime and rare moment. That was last year. Or did all of this happen just from seeing the first painting at her retrospective, City Landscape (1955) and Sans neige (1969) for the first time. The visceral feeling of time that has passed.


Joan Mitchell, Sans neige, 1969; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of the Hillman Foundation; © Estate of Joan Mitchell

This is like the beginning of a movement. A metaphor of a storm system, sure, but also the buildup of expectations that come with renewal while facing uncertainty. Unexpected changes are imminent. One has to go into complete denial at times, pivot and take risks to keep things going. The dark blue always punches a hole through the sunlight and it’s really just an incredible thing to watch unfold, though, isn’t it?


A year is unstable and changing. Anytime one is instantiated (lived) isn’t the previous iteration forgotten and cleared? Isn’t that how it works, is the new one a facsimile of the old one? We have limited RAM, so not everything can be held in one’s consciousness all at once, it’s accessed selectively. Over time, don’t they all seem to fuse together, the dreams, fantasies, life events, even the things you think happen that actually didn’t? Your projections, oh my, all of the conservative projections that you place on the shoulders of others. Ruptures and overlaps in the maelstrom of synaptic growth and degradation, this is what it means to be a person. Seems that observing one’s own conjured memory then isn’t unlike viewing a painting like Sam Francis’, or any painting for that matter. They’re different every time you look at them, because you change and grow. Me and you.

The detail of the Francis painting, Basel Mural I, could be an image of a brain. The shifting and changing totality of a lived experience that happened over the course of the entire year is now somehow placed “behind”; it’s over. The immensity of the movement has passed and I can’t help but wonder, how much of it can actually be remembered? Maybe the important part is not what can be remembered or how much, but the character of the imprint left on a person. The impact. How has the imprint grafted onto the others and how will it inevitably begin to reveal itself in the form of an image. Will the word Pokemon ever, ever make its way into a painting? Perhaps the measure of force exerted by the most recent imprint of 2022 has yet to show its impact in a meaningful way. It needs more time.


Sam Francis, Basel Mural I (detail), 1956-58; Oil on Canvas, Norton Simon Museum; Gift of the Artist, © Sam Francis Foundation, California


There was June of 2022, a particularly tense time, but still I remember, and yeah I guess, it makes me smile. Still. That morning, I listened to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on repeat for forty five minutes straight and it was remarkable listening to something fearless, ironic, visceral and creatively ambiguous. The work of Paul McCarthy reinforced the impact of the music and came at a time when political events were sending the country into spasmodic fits as if they ever stopped in the first place. Crawling through the mud.  My memory tells me that from the scratch of my memory I peeled out lines from Samuel Beckett, “we’re on a veranda smothered in verbena the scented sun dapples the red tile yes I assure you the huge head hatted with birds and flowers is bowed down over my curls the eyes burn with severe love I offer her mine pale upcast to the sky whence cometh our help and which I know perhaps even then with time shall pass away.” I wrote, McCarthy’s work completely obliterates us at a time when it’s already difficult to maintain any sense of continuity and Joan Mitchell wrote in a poem as an 8th grader:

And bleakness comes through the trees without sound

I found it hard, it's hard to find Oh well, whatever, never mind.


Paul McCarthy - A&E, ASSSS, Santa Anita session (Detail)


In October, it became clear to me that the imprint of this year would be significant. I knew the moment a small toy began talking to me. Disparate layers of my life from perception, painting, other artist’s work, toys and objects had begun to fuse as I typed. I’m happy to say that I have a distinct memory of this mental process unfolding. I think it was a brief moment of writing fiction. For once, I felt like I was actually writing, creating form with language. I imagined a miniature Cy Twombly sitting on the small shelf shared by my computer monitor.  It’s was right in front of me as I typed.  He was two and a half inches tall and took the shape of a poseable figure with removable shield jakks - Link from The Legend of Zelda. I still carry this toy in my pocket to this day. It has become a talisman.  The green plastic tunic wraps around his little arms nicely. Thin waisted and with horizontal bangs, they’re frozen into place in the shape of two yellow lips parting, talking in code. Pspspspspsps they’re whispering over the tip of his ear. Tulips speak in unison and the gravity of their language evince the drips down the surface of a painting that have closed and dried. It’s an excavation.  In this particular moment Link has wrapped and folded into Cy Twombly and Cy Twombly has become superimposed and grafted onto Link. It’s a total hybridized mystery and his messages are transmitted through landscapes that I've seen with my own eyes. The red writing rides the yellow-orange light in the rhythm of a blissfully drunken slinky, crying, coiling, and uncoiling into the Untitled night – right off the edges of the frame.

Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile.


Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2007; Acrylic, pencil on wood; Gagosian Los Angeles

Thank you ADF and Happy New Year from Los Angeles!  I hope your 2022 imprinting was significant and 2023 will be even more so.

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