Today I made a collection of oh-so-delightful chubby haystacks.
In Monet’s vision, the haystack stands to the side, giving full deference to the atmosphere. And the sunset in turn, halos the hay in gold. We watch light’s magic, glorifying, coloring and blanching things. And though the colors sizzle, the haystack casts a prosperous cool shadow, holding down the foreground with calm aplomb. Prepared.
Haystack pops front and center in Lichtenstein’s study of pattern creating form. A braille stack redux. I want to reach out and touch the dots, to push them together so they don’t hurt my eyeballs, which constantly try to connect and reconnect them. I give up and decide to study their shape and configuration. Like a nervous-tic they continue to addle my eyes, needling my subconscious. Scatterbrained haystack please stand still, please.
Ahhh, now my favorite, Will Klemm’s hay bale. Here we return to an atmospheric piece like Monet’s. And though reposed in stillness, there’s a tremendous amount of emotion rolling around. I want to give this hay bale a big squish hug and tell it everything’s going to be all right. But maybe it’s not lonely. A buddha bale that has reached peace, stopped rolling. With compassion it listens to my tales of woe. The shadow stretches impossibly long from a bright light source at an extremely low angle. Is it physically possible? And then you realize he’s painting some hidden soul-field in your mind.
Or today your noggin (like mine) is the Lichtenstein.
Surprise! Near the end of his career, Lichtenstein turned his dots to breathtaking use in a series inspired by works from the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Several are on display now at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of a sweeping retrospective.
He abandons his traditional primary colors in favor of a sky blue palette. Transforms his flat graphic style to meditate on depth, distance and the illusion of spaciousness. Eternity floating before our eyes.
Stripped down, the tight pixel pattern harmonizes with the spare eastern aesthetic. The graduated dots, fifteen different sizes, create scale and distance. With the tiny orange philosopher as the only figure to give us a non-dot reference.
Clouds, mountains and plunging gorges implied with staccato points. Forces your eye to connect them, read in between them. Merge the black space; eliminate the white space. Feel the tension between form and formlessness.
I enjoy the knurling tree, floating rootless, just as much as the orange seed speck of a philosopher. I wonder if together we contemplate his smallness and impermanence in the face of epic mother nature. Maybe that craggy mountain holds both our fates.