Liberation of Past Tense, 1991
oil on cotton
72” x 168” (182.88 cm x 426.72 cm)
Liberation of Past Tense, 1991, is a large painting with episodic, historic, time referential imagery. The central axis of four circles represents the stylistic orientations of four time periods: one circle represents Cubist spatial structuring, the others represent Baroque, Suprematist, and Abstract-Expressionist. This is an idea that the past is flexible history and that everything is always being reinterpreted to the view held contemporaneously. Therefore, no fixed interpretation exists. The work propounds that truth, lies, and fantasies are of the same human order. Many kinds of references to landscape, abstraction, caricature, maps, and charts are juxtaposed and locked in a softened gray film (to suggest past tense.) The right lower corner is occupied by a grid of miniature pictorial differentiations, like a collection of types of pictures - abstract, semi-abstract, and representational. This is a reference to paintings of the nineteenth and twentieth century salons-salesrooms of paintings displayed from floor to ceiling, like the Francois Heim painting of the Salon of 1824. It also implies the ease of compositional variation in abstraction and how overblown were the offerings of much "important" abstract art, considering the emphasis on design and the skimpiness of content. Disparagingly, it suggests pictures are as common as windows and do not gain meaning by enlargement, but simply a decorative forcefulness. This work has an epic narrative look, in spite of the subtextual invective suggesting the many ways to consider form and the construction of meaning. I like the association of tense with tension too, as presently felt anxieties from past tensions make our present tense.
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