What the Bee Knows | Painting by JB Bryan | 54 x 68 inches | oil on canvas
SPIDERWEB MANDALA FLOWER EXPLOSION POEM : DRISHTI
painting by JB Jeff Bryan
I do not ask you to accept me
I ask you to release me
O, spinning zap ringer hypnotic mandala
O, writhing expanding & contracting lung mandala
Breathing mandala, kaleidoscope eye squeezer
Kaleidoscopic helicopter zone expander
Lightnin’ Hopkins singing cigarette rejuvenator
Hieroglyphic cosmo spinning pie graph
Please, O please, do not devour me
Not today you friendly painting from Placitas
I cannot sit here in front of you all day
Like a pumpkin
Dirt & Photosynthesis: Notes by JB Bryan
Paintings – October 19 -November 30, 2007 – Artspace 116 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Nature is not on the surface, it is in the depths. Colors are an expression of these depths on the surface. They rise from the roots of the world.”—Paul Cézanne
“I paint in order to decondition myself.” — Henri Michaux
“The pattern for a tune will be forgotten and the tune itself will be the pattern.” —Ornette Coleman
i don’t paint landscapes. what happens reflects how forces in phenomena find form. image as material as obvious as process. form starts, then adds or reduces via myriad interactions, improvised, but necessary to what becomes. the accumulative of successive orbits, of snow & rain, of bloom & decay. what acts upon what. one can only work within how what happens. each to the next. what grows. both map & substance. i consider myself an old-fashioned painter.
land. land as more. land is motive. hope built into the work is simple. a need for mythos, for musicality, for simple presence. the painted caves of paleo-tribes indicate an imagination attuned to a world alive, an undeniable connection—to, & with, deep stone, from which images are shaped upon or into. “the human universe,” as wrote poet Charles Olson, the fundament, what is essential to being animal, entangled awareness, permeated existence, habitat, the senses. a present history invented as one lives, myth invented as life itself.
“the meeting edge” of ourselves & what is the world. the matter it constitutes, botanical existence upon which we depend. &/or relish. native enough to know the world as sustenance & utility. smart enough to take concern for each aspect. imagination jazzed by what animates. &/or how one participates.
meanwhile chlorophyll, as pigment, absorbs blue & red wavelengths. excited electrons split water to make oxygen & sugar. roots absorb available moisture. dirt as rock as history. a strange intelligence goes on here. perhaps smarter than we are. as to our own brain, electrical with vegetable energy, we eat or die. over a million years, we have learned to cook. people gather & celebrate a history of tasting everything. corn, squash, & beans. chile stew. tea from leaves & hot water. apple pie. pesto. some of us grow stuff. somebody discovered wine & we’re happy for it.
photosynthesis—the single most important chemical process on our planet—“putting together with light.” plants as structures of solar energy result in all other forms of life. involving a sequence of changes taking place in a millionth of a second. we can break down the dynamics, but its fact is ineffable. no one can paint this, yet a painting might evoke, to enact from such. paying attention to particular things. “in touch” with making, not less valuable than what is made. paint now not different than paint waybackthen. stone & liquid. we still use the same brush, a stick with animal hair. paint as magical goop. a vehicle through which to connect with the world—reciprocity. brush & pigment enable a conduit of meaning. small gestures result in a big image, an icon & its ritual to get here. i consider myself an oldfashioned painter, because this seems to me to be the long tradition of what painting is.
Nahuatl (Uto-Aztecan) word for song is cuicatl. derived from the verb cuica, to sing, onomatopoeic in origin, as also expressing the twitter of birds. poetry defined as a combination of two words xochitl in cuicatl— “flowers & song.” an image pointing to the ephemeral quality of life. here but for a brief while, both lament & praise. all of us belong to an ancient way of thought much closer to a way of making, of skill. to be in the world & make songs, about being in the world. what the world is. for awhile.
Cézanne realized what he was really part of & the task at hand. he declared himself a primitive to his own means. how do we as artists engage our sensations? walk up the mountain & back to the studio, now what? to make out of this? again—Olson: that if the artist is within one’s own nature as one is a participant in the larger force, then one will be able to listen, & that such hearing will give one secrets that objects share. “& by inverse law the shapes will make their own way. it is in this sense that the projective act, which is the artist’s act in the larger field of objects, leads to dimensions larger than the artist.
” i love language, but much of what i sense ends up as marks— lines, scratches, smears, swipes, zig-zags, meanders, coils, engaged correspondence to pannicles, interlocking blossoms, twisted buffalo gourds, curves of leaf, bursts of pollen cloud. “oak, juniper, cottonwood, apricot, & wild cherry.” lamb’s-quarters & pigweed. archaic ideograms of mountain. color out of mud & light about essential interplay between sun & earth & matter. this primal myth of underworld & land & sky. flowers & song. what happens in a millionth of a second. perhaps the subject is too big for painting, but aeons of painters have tried. admittedly, my attempt leans toward sumptuous, lively, pleasureful bop, full well knowing that a twig can rip your flesh.
how i work involves a start, then change after change. i allow the picture to spark back. i vow to stay open to accidents, mistakes, & the unforeseen, scumble, strokes outside of usual skill. branching, a touch, an overlay, a fallen drip, thick parts & thin. plainly struggled. loose & finesse. some mystery fits into place. as my own place. that the ground itself is important as. negative space & positive space balance assertion. asymmetrical equilibrium. “from” & “in” at the same time. glyphs whose structure manifest such. nuances which cohere until done.
brush & ink are one chance upon chance. the spontaneous gesture which can’t be corrected. space is paper, form is pigment. skin & bones. Chinese painters have wrestled for centuries with these issues of time & creative moment. likeness & unlikeness, “resonances.” rhythm & intonation, bright & dark, fullness & empty, melodious manifest of energy. meaning as the artist’s character inherent in the act. laden hairs transmit body & soul. cursive abbreviation to long experience, close to dance, as well as poem.
resolution by unknown factors isn’t easy. a picture finds entity outside of preconception. acceptance as important as fingers & wrist. the issue is not wholeness, but an accumulative unto its own surprise. a field open to possibility. luck & finesse attuned to a world alive. indeed, energies contained in a realm of song, counterpoint, so to occur all at once. idiosyncratic proof of itself, authentic outside of one’s own contrivance. the world is a miracle of processes, of dirt & photosynthesis. lyrical, yes, & i do hope my work swings as such beauty.
“And it has gone so far, that is, science has, as to wonder if the fingertips might not be very knowing knots in their own rights, little brains (little photo-electric cells, I think they now call the skin) which, immediately, in responding to external stimuli, make decisions! It is a remarkable and usable idea. For it is man’s first cause of wonder how rapid he is in taking in of what he does experience.” —Charles Olson, Human Universe and Other Essays, (ed. Donald Allen, New York, Grove Press, 1967)
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