About the Specificist series

Art is about rules. Society may see the artist as a free spirit unencumbered by the types of rules most confront every day in their work and their lives, but this is simply untrue. The difference is that an artist has decided to create as many of their own rules as is possible. They must still follow the rules set by the market or by galleries or museums or patrons, but when it comes to actually producing art they set their own rules.

Most well known artists have a specific style or set of styles. Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, Robert Mapplethorpe, Frida Kahlo, when you see a piece of art from any of these individuals you know exactly who made it. They all set a strict set of rules for themselves that controlled how they made art and what the results of their labor would look like. We think of this as their “style”, but what we are actually seeing is a set of self imposed rules these artists created for themselves. This doesn’t mean that they were restricting themselves, it means that they were freeing their creativity. Freedom does not exist without rules. If everyone spent their entire lives completely nude, there would be no sense of freedom obtained by walking nude through a secluded forest. If theft was legal, no one would find shoplifting to be a thrill. Freedom does not come from a lack of rules, it comes from the subversion of rules. Creativity is not a process of unbridled production, it is a way of finding solutions to problems. The rules these artists followed gave their creativity a reason to exist. They used a creative process to find ways around the rules they imposed on themselves. This subverting of rules through creativity produced the freedom they were searching for. Without rules art can not exist.

In this series I have set up a very specific set of rules for myself. Each piece is created on a 4000 by 6000 pixel canvas overlaid with a grid of 100 by 100 pixel cells. Everything in the piece must be aligned to this grid. I only used three colors, red, white, and black. Every piece includes a repetitive patter or patterns. This may seem limiting, but in fact it is quite freeing. Through multiple starts and stops, working out parts of the image with a calculator, hours of placing line after line and dot after dot, my creativity finds ways to produce new and different images that escape the barriers placed in my way by my self imposed, specific and yet meaningless rules, and freedom is achieved.

These pieces were inspired by the work of painter Kazimir Malevich and architect Santiago Calatrava and they attempt to provide a visual representation of the meditative qualities of the process of producing art. They are often quite simple in form, but complex in intention, and they show the freedom and creativity that can only come from working within the confines of a rigid set of rules.

This entry was published on April 16, 2016 at 5:09 pm and is filed under specificism. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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