Philip Koch, Out to Sea, Ogunquit, oil on panel, 5 x 10"
Went to a panel discussion yesterday and heard an art historian tell the audience that the 1960's saw the complete demise of painting. That sounded pretty bad, but what's more this remains unchanged up through today. What I wish she's said was that she herself just wasn't into painting. But no, we painters are apparently deluding ourselves if we continue with this outmoded vehicle.
I have a very different vision. It's of a towering oak. Over hundreds of years the tree has sunk roots deep into the ground. Its rough trunk rises up and branches out and then branches again. Way out on one upper branch are video artists, another limb holds performance artists, a third conceptual artists, and so it goes on, marching around the trees radiating arms. Sure enough, there I am on a big branch along with a bunch of other suspects- we're the painters. And should anyone care to look, we seem to be having at least as much fun as the artists clinging to the other branches.
Above is a painting I did from a monochrome charcoal drawing a little while back. I believe it to be a very fine painting. But more important, it could only have been painted in our time. Had it been painted in another time, it would have turned out looking differently. We are always going to need art that reflects the psyche of our times. Unless I'm delusional, I think I think I and my fellow painters do that just as well as the artists trying to tell their story employing other media. It's true we painters stumble often and sometimes fall flat on our faces, but have you counted the bruised knees of the video artists?
It's best if everyone takes a long hard look over the whole tree. Land on all the branches and try them out for yourself. If you find one you like best, you might build your nest there.