Remember me on this computer
Hillel Kagan
About this artwork
Head #6
oil on canvas
h.23cm w.18cm d.0cm
Dec 2004

Hillel's Description: I referenced clippings and images from Yiddish and religious, Jewish journals.

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2007-03-09 10:12

Dear Hillel, I have been looking at your studio log when it occured to me: you are the only artist I know that begins with short of abstract forms and then transforms them into figurative and not vice versa. How interesting!

2007-03-09 23:21

Maria, I'm not exactly sure what you mean but if It's that I start with abstract form, that's true but I also finish with abstract form. That's the nature of painting even representational or figurative, afterall it's not life it's paint and in that I'm the same as every other artist I know of including yourself. Thanks for reminding me about the the log and that I've got to back and start explaining my process.

2007-03-11 18:01

I am aware of the terms of representation and of the fact that everything is an abstraction at the bottom line. What I meant was that in the course seeing (nature) one perceives first what one has been taught to perceive, that is forms that correspond to e.g. a face, a body, a landscape. Secondly, one discovers the abstract forms that in some strange way the mind puts together to recognise this or that. In painting the order of these actions usually is the same. The more one works a piece the more one experiments with how far one can go in evidencing the very elements of painting. Form and colour regardless the subject’s “recognisability” . Sometimes with not so happy results. Remember Frenhofer?

The impression I got from your work is that the more you work a piece the more the image moves from an analysis of the form to its visual reconstruction. I found that original.

2007-03-12 22:06

Maria I try to forget about the " thingness" of what I am painting and just try to get down the abstract forms of what I am seeing. In the beginning it's just the largest most interesting shapes and rhythmic thrusts. Everything must be measured and relationships in size and colour set out as precisely as possible, a difficult task in that you can look at the same thing in so many different ways, so you have to hold your original vision firmly in your mind. The more relationships you get down the easier the process becomes unless of course as you get down to the smaller and more subtle shapes and forms you begin to see that you made a mistake in your earlier measurements and this happens quite often. So with all your strength you must undo what you've done even though you might enjoy some aspects. In other words you try not to get too locked in. If you carry this process to its conclusion the finished result should resemble the naturalistic scene that inspired it. Of course you can get bogged down and never stop seeing more and more and that's when you get your Frenhofer effect. I never read the the story but I intend to now because it seems to me that I've been there often. You see the problem is you can't finish the painting until it has at least something of the nature that you first saw. I don't particularly care about the recognizability factor as long as I get what I saw, I don't care if others see the same thing or not.
Thanks for the compliment about "originality" although I'm not sure I agree.

2008-03-30 18:54

You see that is what I was trying to say once on a comment I made your Head #6. As I understand it, what happened in the early 1900 was the fragmenting and rethinking of the object first and the way we perceive it and then that of the two dimensional picture plane. Cezanne for example talked about representing the world using the cube, the cone and the sphere and not the square, the triangle and circle. It was all about understanding the most elementary structural elements beneath things and consequently learn to perceive nature through its structure. Once achieved, this new way of seeing, it was like revealing the matrix so you could enter the forms and play from the inside. Rearrange, decompose, reconstruct. All about the form. Colour came second. Allow me to believe that suprematism was the only –ism that had little to do with form and vision. Again, as I understand it, it was rather an iconoclastic movement that had more to do with theology than visual perception.

Now, thank you so much for believing in my efforts. I am extremely interested in understanding what you see in them, so I will ask you to try and define what you mean. When I was working with grays what I was looking for was the form i.e. the structure, and I still am. I suppose this improvement of the colours came naturally as I am becoming more experienced and less a chicken in front of the canvas. For the record again, my background, meaning what they were teaching when I went to school, is exactly the early 1900 breakthrough. That is why I think my work may have taken a promising turn but not an entirely new one. It is my turn to thank you for the “unique” and say I am not entirely sure I agree.

2008-03-30 18:56

Sorry, I pasted the above under the wrong image. This was meant as a response to another comment of yours.

2008-05-25 16:39

Hillel, I love what you say "afterall it's not life it's paint" - as an actor I am constantly horrified by reality programming..Lee Strasberg said: it's not about being natural, it's 'naturalism' that is art makes the comment, transfor,ms reality via the artists vision..the representtaion of relaity itself is not art in acting or painting..

2008-05-25 16:40

oops shoulda spell checked


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