Thursday, November 18, 2004

Shirley Kaneda III

More from the recent Shirley Kaneda lecture, speaking about her own work -

My work is "a combination, a montage, an amalgamation. I don't believe in the singularity of abstract painting. Abstract painting can offer a kind of fluidity, experimentation, and the freedom to change depending upon what you are interested in at the time".

"the more contradiction the better, the more optimum for me"


"Language is a way to name things, not just communicate. Some things can be named in my paintings, like circle, line" but "it is difficult to name the overall unity". "It is very difficult to be specific in the naming of these paintings". "I wanted to imagine and picture a place where language couldn't take over". "When language fails us the viewer has to take up the challenge or walk away, (and what happens is) usually the latter".

"How can we have a whole that is faithful to the parts that make it whole"? "I want no focus point", "no heirarchy between the parts and the whole, everything should exist on an equal footing". I "hope to hinder any kind of automatic response" and "want to disrupt any preconceptions, I'm not interested in being didactic".


"TV and computers influence how we visualize, (with) multiple images in single frames", "if a comparison is to be made, I would like the painting to function as a hypertext, each area linking to another."

"The computer is a tool, like a brush".

The Decorative

Kaneda admitted that she feels a "shortcoming" of her work is it's "inherent decorativeness and opticality", but added that "there is a difference between the decorative and decoration" and listed David Reed, Frank Stella, Matthew Ritchie, and Joanne Greenbaum as artists who "are all involved with the decorative whether they know it or not".

An aim is to "take fragmentation as a positive quality". I "wanted to explore and build on discriminatory concepts" and to "use the decorative metaphorically to promote non-heroic themes".


My "titles are usually oxymorons" to "put into words the inconsistencies". "I want my work to reflect real illusions (this was the title of the piece being projected)". My "titles are not directly related (to the work)", they are "not descriptive or poetic"

Final Thoughts and Advice

I "don't think that abstract art is either more or less important than any other type of art", but "it is difficult to make abstract paintings today". "Painting is not privileged anymore, but not being privileged doesn't make it marginalized".

Ms. Kaneda brought up Ingres again, saying "(I'm) interested in a kind of classical quality" and that after years she had "grown tired of making paintings that were about process - you couldn't figure out how it was made". I "sort of want it to function like a Mondrian, the reproduction looks mechanical, but in life the lines are wobbly". "There is an unmistakable human quality in his work", the "image is not traditional but the way it is painted is totally traditional". I've "started thinking of my paintings as abstract photo-realism".

"Pleasure in your process is integral. If you don't enjoy the process you can't (illegible, something like 'make good work')." I "enjoy painting now more than ever, working very labor-intensive, very detail-oriented", in "almost a trance state". "The process is extremely comforting".

"Painting is hard, it takes a long time (to develop your skills)". One "can produce a similar (idea) in another medium much more easily, but the longer you paint, the better you get at it". Ms. Kaneda spoke of "growth in the medium" and " the ability to control it" and wondered if the same amount of growth is possible in other mediums - to have a similar "development of sensibilty over material".

"How do we address issues of quality? Greenberg was very specific. Today, those definitions are not enough. These questions need to be addressed, but how? Do we just take a passive attitude? Or do we take some sort of stand and address this question in our own work? Individual artists are doing this - but it's not happening collectively".