Paintings I Wrote On In 2009 (2010)
by Dorothy Goode
"I am concerned with freedom, and I use props.”
—my unused, one-sentence artist statement from about 10 years ago
The first thing I wrote, when I started writing on my freshly gessoed panels last summer, was “pure, rapt indecision.” And then followed, over a number of weeks, a series of other statements—some sensible, some directly personal, and others purely random. Once all my boards contained their respective assertions, I was left with a problem: What’s the English language got to do with abstract painting?
This is a problem I’ve pondered all along. I have never been clear about how ideas and materials stick together. Ultimately, the former will slip off and away, even if they have the good fortune to be held in the minds of makers or viewers of art for a little while. I have never felt called upon to impose a structure of specific meaning around the gestures of my work anyway. The gestures have always served a more evasive purpose, and I prefer to hide at least as much as I show at all times. But now I had specific thoughts to hide, ones that I had made visible.
The most interesting question to me was whether or not the thoughts would have a direct bearing on the content of the paintings, beyond the calligraphic influence of the letter-forms themselves. Would the imposition of meaningful phrases cultivate a more “sensible” surface? Or would my hard-won habits of covering my tracks prevail? I think that the jury is still out on this one.
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