Painting With Light
by Rick Doble
GAINING INSPIRATION FROM ARTISTS OF THE PAST
I have quite a few close friends whom I have never met and whom I will never
meet. They are dead artists who had the courage to put their private and
intimate visions out into the public world and whose work I can study, learn
from, and become attached to.
I consider Beethoven, T.S. Eliot, Paul Klee and Jackson Pollock to be important
to me personally. Whether they and I would have liked each other is not
important. I greatly admire what they created for all of us to share and their
points of view has become part of my point of view.
I don't think that this is strange. I believe that just about everyone has a
favorite actor, scene from a movie, singer, song or passage from a novel. And I
believe that each of us thinks of these and sometimes looks to these for
guidance as we go through life and make decisions. How many people have decided
to continue a relationship or break up based on a song?
As artists we often complete another's work, answer another's questions, extend
another's ideas. When I create new work, I often find myself thinking about an
artist and not really understanding why.
One painter, in particular, continues to haunt me, because what he accomplished
was so monumental and yet so unfinished. I am talking about the painter Nicolas
DeStaŽl whose landscapes and other work seemed a perfect blending of abstract
and figurative art. He had set such a hard task for himself that he was unable
to survive and killed himself at a young age.
I sometimes find myself trying to continue his work via photography -- to make
the photograph a bit painterly and abstract so that it dissolves the figure and
world in front of the lens. In other words to come at it from a different
direction but with a similar result.
I am fortunately not as driven or as impatient as DeStaŽl so I don't think that
this quest will drive me mad. But at times I come so close to finding that point
of realism/abstraction, I believe I see what he saw and am frustrated that I can
only make it work in a narrow way.
I have come closest, I think, with my "dancers in motion" series in which the
people dancing make the colors swirl just like paint, but the reality of the
dance floor and the stances of the people themselves, makes the viewer realize
that this is not only an abstraction, but a photograph of real people. Also some of my figure photographs in this exhibt were inspired by DeStaŽl.
At times I feel that I am involved in a conversation with DeStaŽl in which we
discuss the limits of abstraction, the boundaries that once crossed mean that
the figure is lost.
Even though DeStaŽl's work is very abstract, it has a strong sense of realism.
My favorite, Figures at Seaside, feels like I am looking out at the harbor and
seeing the waves, yet I am constantly brought back to the large and simple
shapes and blocks of paint that he has put squarely on the surface of the
And so our conversation, our dialogue will continue and I thank him for giving
me another dimension to my photography, another path for me to explore.
Link to "Figures at Seaside":
To view other paintings by DeStaŽl try these links. Unfortunately I could not find one site that concentrated on his work, only
sites with posters for sale.