Saturday, September 15, 2007

kumi korf artist's statement

One day, years ago, I was waiting for a workshop to begin in a large lobby of a university in another city. A portion of the interior space was being renovated. A crew of painters were giving a prime coat of white on the fresh, grey sheetrock surface. They were using paint rollers. One stroke by a roller covered a large area effectively. The unpainted grey area produced bold shapes that were made only by chance or, if intended, because of utilitarian needs. I was intrigued by what I saw, and couldn't wait to try something similar in my own studio. I stretched a large canvas onto the wall of my studio, primed it first and painted with acrylic wall paint. Later I discovered that painting dilute paint on unprimed canvas was almost like painting watercolor on paper. The paint roller can be moved swiftly in all directions. Manipulation of the roller could create lines or areas, or entirely free forms. I added a long stick to the roller handle, as commercial painters do. This way, painting canvas became a very physical activity.

You see two examples at the Main Street Gallery. On a Cold Day is from the late 1980's. An Amphora and a Fish is from 2006. There is an artist's book that I created earlier with the same title, An Amphora and a Fish. The text is an allegorical story about art and life. Unexpected small events, mistakes, or accidents take you to another horizon or world. It is a simple story, prompted by Zak Korf's dream, totally unconnected to this story, but I received energy and inspiration from it. The text is as follows:
Once upon a time there was a maiden who did mindless but miraculous things. People called her the "mindless maiden," or "MM." She did not like to be called that, but on the other hand she felt that she had a license to be so. One sunny day she was cleaning up her mistress's closet. Her mistress was a pack rat of a sort. There were all kinds of treasures there. MM thought she could bring some fresh air to the closet, and maybe even straighten out a few things. Sure enough, she found an amphora vase lying on the floor among other curious collections. She thought she could take it out and put it on a stand where an amphora should be placed. She made her way to a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at her mistress's villa, clutching the amphora under her arm. The mindless maiden, as her name suggested, tripped on the edge of a step, and during an effort to regain her balance she lost her grip on the amphora. Amazingly it did not break, but as if it had its own mind it slid down the steps, turning around at landings, and disappeared from MM's view. She drew a huge breath and let out a sigh, "Well, once again I did something miraculous." The amphora was free, finally out of the dark closet into the sunshine, and into the sea. It was not her plan, but it had happened. As she was sinking into the blueness of the Mediterranean blue, she met a big yellow fish. "Hey, you," the yellow fish greeted. "Hi, who are you?" "I am a yellow fish with silver scales, but what are you?" "I know that I am not a fish. I know only one thing for sure, I am sinking deeper into the sea. I'm afraid at some point I'll reach the bottom of the sea." The yellow fish with silver scales said "Why don't you swim like me?" "I wish I could" said the amphora. "Let me help you." The yellow fish with silver scales came closer to the amphora, placing his scaled body next to her belly. He swam faster so that he could lift the amphora onto his back.She yelped "Yeehoo! It's a speed racer ride!" The amphora felt the thrill of swimming faster and faster. "This is miraculous, all right," she said to herself. As if those were magic words, the amphora turned into a big orange fish. The yellow fish with silver scales flapped the orange fish's side with his big tail fin, and said "Swim like me, come along." Soon they disappeared into even deeper blueness of the Mediterranean blue. No one knows what happened to the fishes. We can hope that they found happiness together in the normal way of fishes in the blueness of the Mediterranean blue.
An Amphora and a Fish is a fifth collaboration of large paintings with Maïa Vidal.

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