Michael Divine

Writings :


How to be a Painter

You have to have complete understanding of when your hand is heavy handed, and when it is light. What that feels like, and how to hold it. How to be heavy handed when need be and how to be light handed. How to be able to hold the brush so lightly that, any lighter, and you would drop it. How to hold the brush so firmly and yet, still allow it to have give, allow the canvas to push and pull the brush as much as the hand seeks to drive it.

You must know how to dip your brush in the water so only a millimeter of it’s tip is submerged and pull it out quick and it only gets one drop of water on it. And if it has two, you will know and so flick it behind you with just the quickest and limberest flicks of the wrist, and the extra drop of water will fly away and not defile your painting and create a headache or drip down below you onto the clear and finished sky. And you must be able to do that in a split second because, thought you need a touch more water, you have no time to look away form the painting because it is all happening there. The flower pot is becoming, the sky is opening, the waters are parting… the god is arriving and you can’t miss it for a second.

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Magritte, LACMA and Pan

Yesterday we went to Los Angeles to stop by the fabric district, see the Magritte show at LACMA, Pan’s Labyrinth at the Arclight and then to visit our friend Robin over in Venice around the corner from where we lived last year.

Magritte…We think of bowler caps and green apples. We are not too far off and if we see the silhouette of a man in a bowler cap (as we did later passing some bar in Hollywood) we recognize immediately the icon as borrowed from Magritte. But to say he is all bowler caps and apples is to say Dali was all melting watches and ants. The difference between the two however is that Dali tried exhaustively to probe his own subconscious with his artwork, finding great meaning and relation between the subtlest of details within his work. On the other hand, Magritte on the other hand often took seemingly unrelated objects, created compositions around them and left the viewer to decipher their meanings, like gestalt ink blot tests. Now, while we immensely enjoyed seeing such a large collection of Magritte’s in one place- allowing us to see multiple nuances within his work and admire the fine subtleties of his uses of color and shadow, we found the “contemporary’ art besides which it was juxtaposed was, well, mostly crap. It seems the art world likes to over look the people like Vladimir Kush who, as far as we are concerned, is the artist most closely following Magritte in style, form and approach. Both of the artists have a soft and forgiving approach to their medium and a calm quietude about their pieces. Ah, but Kush is perhaps to fine an artist. There are the “inner circles” of the LA art world and they were strongly represented. They represent mostly pain, turmoil, a word under a photo, another that is a mirrored photo with a palindrome over it…feeble attempts to mimic a master. As I said, if they really sought to display the legacy of Magritte, the curators would have looked further than what the Los Angeles art scene had to show them…

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