Mayan Woman and Child, 11" x 14" oil pastels on smooth drawing paper -- drawn from a photo I took in Navil, Chiapas, Mexico in 1998 during a human rights effort -- Possibly completed or near it -- need to give it a rest ...
Quick marker sketch - Palestinian schoolchildren cross Israeli military debris barrier on way to school -- from photo I took in 2001 in Beit Ummar, the West Bank -- drawn on 8.5" x 5.5" sketch paper...
(Israeli military occupied building on left and had camo camp atop building; atop hill is an imposed large Israeli settlement - you couldn't know that from the photo either -- we stood at the barrier so the kids could pass -- UN team brought teachers to barrier so they could cross also)
Progression - "Forcibly Displaced Mayans" - oil pastel drawing on charcoal paper, 9"x10.5"
-- So be it -- finis -- (so it seems) -- but my reaction to it, starting all over again - too tentative, too careful, too controlled all at once -- mixed feeling --
Working it out little by little
Finding coherence with composition but the combination of oil pastels and charcoal paper isn't providing the "feel" I'm looking for. Have to find work around with this picture.
Eileen, my artist and artful spouse, offered a good critique of my re-emerging process with
drawing and painting last night – basically, let the work talk to you, don’t
force ideas on it, don’t get clever.
Same with subject, if I extend her thoughts – for example,
does a work have to have a social justice theme all the time? Yet, I scan the
internet for social-justice related photos and my photos and films from our human rights
work for images to work from, start from anyway.
I’m drawn to the Fauvist, Social Realism and Ashcan schools in art right now but I
don’t want to mimic them. Still early in this return to these art forms for me.
I need to allow for discovery and spontaneous collaboration between me and the
work and the subject and my capabilities and the medium, to keep in mind what Eileen said.
Thinking about my age in all this, too, 77, soon to be 78 -- so odd.
BRIEF THOUGHTS ON ART AND DESIGN: From a time with film and
photographic art, to now with work in painting and
drawing again – on the edges, if there is an edge - I like to think about two things –
enframing and mystery. Design itself, so long in dominance in the arts, doesn’t do it
for me, in itself or for itself, no matter how wondrous the technique, unless what’s going on
in a work takes me outside the frame.
DERRIDA VS GOTTLIEB: I’m drawing on Jacque Derrida’s
notion of “enframing,” which in a painting is the thing within it that takes one
out of the boundaries of the physical work and resets the frame (or disappears it).
Mystery, an intangible, is something personal, and maybe I’ll try to explore
what I mean by that sometime, but one thing I can say is that it’s part of what
makes the frame disappear and brings about an internal vista.
I recall in the ‘60s looking at Adolph Gottlieb’s work at
MOMA wondering when the mystery and that which would move me within the work
would happen – even with perhaps understanding the notion of the alchemist in
his work – Barnett Newman too. The lot of them: Rothko, Motherwell, Kline but
not Diebenkorn and his versatility of approaches to a “subject.”
THE BLAUE REITER: Just to briefly sum up what I think I’m
getting at, I think Kandinsky, Marc and others from this movement have a closer
affinity to capturing the re-enframing and mystery I feel I want to see in a
work that uses design as a key element and focus.
This is only sketchily developed, obviously ...
I’m not thinking about some of the extremes Francisco Goya went to in his paintings, but I think the so-called fine art of painting and drawing needs to open more spaces to address the impact of social and human rights issues ...I feel so passionate about this. I don’t know where that
passion is coming from but it doesn’t matter; what matters is that it be
As a footnote – my youngest daughter is an extremely
knowledgeable published art historian Ph.D. who also runs an MFA program in The
Netherlands and so I write this understanding that that intelligence might
descend on this and have a response that would open my eyes wider. But for now,
this is it.
Refugee man and child, oil pastel sketch, 8"x10" - feeling out an acrylic painting style as well for a larger representation of refugees, maybe a series ..
(c) 2014 Wes Rehberg
Refugees have a special meaning from when my spouse and a small group I organized in the late 90s accompanied a bus full of surviving refugees of a massacre in southern Mexico back to the massacre site to commemorate their 45 lost community members, slain by paramilitaries ...