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Frank Galuszka: Paintings

Studios.  This exhibition was curated by David Cohen from a difficult and complex body of work. Its selection was an arduous task that took several days of sorting through slides and original work.  He and I had conversations as we went along, and he thought to himself much of the time. David developed the context that holds this show together. This selection conserves the vitality of my project as a painter, while the selected paintings add up to a story that makes my work mysteriously unfamiliar to my own eyes.

Artists who move from one place to another are subject to jostles and jolts. They always talk about the working environment. They always talk about the studio. Different styles develop in different studios, whether these studios are held sequentially or concurrently.  What makes sense in one studio is unthinkable in another.

This exhibition includes work from three concurrent studios. One studio has a history of abstraction connected to it, another a history of figuration. The third is down the road.  A section of the California coast, it produces plein air work.  Some days I go from studio to studio like a ranch hand checking fences. Each studio waits, and residing in each is its history, a discrete and overwhelming consciousness. Wasn’t it de Kooning who thought that style was like yogurt – that first you had to start with a little culture?  In each studio the culture is different; only the painter is the same.

Conscience. In each studio there is a conscience. It says OK to this and no dice to that. It insists on integrity as it sees it. Within the studio, it is difficult to break with this integrity unless you want to feel sick. Toxified. In a different studio, it’s a whole other matter.

I like to work outdoors. Each day has its own identity. The same place changes.

The studios compensate for one another.  If one goes too much this way, the other goes that way. It is hard to make the work from different places fit together in an exhibition.  The work looks vulnerable. The artist looks uncertain. Suspicions arise as, side by side, mutually exclusive styles present themselves as sincere and committed productions of the same mind without an over-aching concept to bind them.

Multiples. Roles, tasks, functions and relationships are so intricate, demanding and so inherently exclusive of one another, that we tend to become many without realizing it.

Multistylism reflects this. There may be a constant personality core, but instead of being comforting and reflective, it is unseen. Intuitive and generative, it unfurls fresh capacities to meet incoming challenges.  In light of contemporary life, stylistic unity looks nostalgic, and like a sentimental retreat.

Less polygamy or bipolarity, this way of working resembles multiple personality disorder. It aims at a multiple personality order.

Stress. Style, as far as I can tell, is a system of allowables and disallowables that arises from a sensibility. Its like a legal system governed at an intuitive core. It takes craziness, discipline or courage to live with a tension among styles that defy one another and that accuse one another of phoniness or irrelevance. This condition resembles day-to-day life.

Dali said that the difference between himself and a madman was that he was not mad. But he proceeded to become mad.  So was he fooling himself all along, or did his experiment catch up to him with sinister results?  What I am doing is an experiment, but I am not detached from it. I can claim that I am experimenting with Multiple Personality Disorder, and that this is a more or less academic decision, a conceptual strategy. But is this true? While there is a good deal of engineering, there is no room for scientific method, no room for detachment.  And only retrospective suggestions of reliability among the results.

Diffraction. In Hans Christian Anderson’s epic fairytale The Snow Queen, a gang of imps conspire to carry a distorting mirror aloft into heaven. The mirror shatters and is splinters rain over the earth. My work, as a whole, is about a play between recursion and diffraction. That is how it breathes in and breathes out. Recursion fills; diffraction empties. Unconscious connections among works from different studio cultures reveal themselves after the fact. There is a detail from my painting Joan Sheds Her Armor facing the beginning of this essay. There is an abstract painting, Joan of Arc. There is the mythic personality of the Snow Queen in two versions, one abstract and one representational, but each in a different mythic sphere from Joan. Reflecting these is an excerpt from a manuscript that invokes The Snow Queen. In my work, diffraction appears everywhere as subject and structure.  The light on the cliffs, the snow crystals, the mica.  The diffraction of content itself, both shattering and distributing its meaning.

FG  12.05


Essay: The Snow Queen, by Frank Galuszka

Essay: Mica by Christina Waters

Essay: Paintings of the Pacific West Coast, by Christina Waters

Snapshots From NYSS

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