The Chair of Contemplation: those final looks before a painting is complete
When is a painting finished? Picasso stated a work of art is finished when you have been through with it, to rid a painting of it’s soul, to kill it and give it it’s final blow. Those final looks at a piece from a chair of contemplation are something every painter knows, it is perhaps the most important part of the artist process. Da Vinci once wrote that “art is never finished, only abandoned”, a romantic statement about the relationship between artist and art. When Warhol was asked this question his response was famously, “when the cheque clears”, which certainly refers to the economy of art and getting paid.
Over the years I have come to document and celebrate these final moments of applying paint to canvas. Yes, I do believe that I must abandon the work like Da Vinci, but for me it comes from the perspective of leaving a journey behind. For me each painting I create is a journey, it begins long before brush hits the canvas, and ends once the painting leaves my studio easels. A finished painting is a painting that has been signed, edges painted and finishing varnish applied and dried. Once all of these steps are completed the painting is truly finished and ready to sell to a collector or send to a gallery.
These final moments in the journey of a painting happen through intense examination of the piece. From my studio chair, a rusty orange old velour chair passed down over generations of family, this chair has become known as the ‘Chair of Contemplation’. In 2016, I was sitting in my chair reviewing the final details of a painting and it came to me, I realized that this integral part of the artist process should in fact have it’s own moment, giving my viewers a peek inside the world of an artist. Every single painting I have made since has been documented in this manner, and these moments have become art themselves, performance art. With each chair of contemplation photo I have come to delve deep into the what I am saying with the work and the moment, what I am wearing, how I am posing, the moment, each moment has become a statement about the work I am contemplating.
At some point I hope to compile these moments and photographs into a book and exhibition, for now a few #chairofcontemplation photos to enjoy.