Erik ReeL, Opus 1678, acrylic on archival paper, 30 x 22,
Art may be many things, but sometimes it is simply a reminder preserving a better frame of mind, an alternative, a weapon on the side of everyday folks in their daily fight against drudgery, despair, despotism, disenfranchisement, and death. The five Ds.
The Opus number refers to my current studio log, which was started at the end of 1999. So opus 1662 means that this is the 1,662nd work I’ve done since the beginning of 2000.
This painting is on 30 x 22 inch [75 x 55 cm] archival printmaking paper. I am using liquid acrylic paint, pastels and pencils and charcoal and a lot of acrylic medium as well as paint. The papers I use the most are Magnani Pescia [crown watermark grade] and Italia, Rives BFK, Lana Royale, Rives de Lin, DS Lenox, and Fabriano Artistico hot press which is the only watercolor paper I typically use. Magnani Pescia, crown watermark, is by far my most favorite paper.
Unfortunately, this paper seems to be no longer available in the United States. There are people in the USA who say they are selling it, but they are not selling the watermark grade, which is the best grade and the grade I use. It seems that the people in American who order this paper cannot tell the difference between the lower grades and the crown watermark [or top grade] paper, so the mills and suppliers ship them the lower quality stuff, charge them the same price as the crown watermark paper and they, in turn try to fob this stuff onto us, the artists, and charge the higher price as well. There are seven versions of Magnani Pescia. This follows a longstanding, but growing trend in the USA of art suppliers substituting lower quality items for long-available quality items.
Fortunately, in some cases, there are conscientious, usually smaller, more specialized, suppliers entering into the game who either have started producing their own art supplies here in America, or still try to get the original, quality merchandise. If you are an artist, I encourage you to seek out and support these suppliers, especially if they are local. On the other side of things, some of the best supplies can only be obtained from their source in fairly large quantities: quality stretcher bars from China, art paper from Italy, etc., usually can only be ordered in quantities of at least a shipping container or railroad car at a time. You’d think with globalization, it’d get easier to obtain internationally produced items, not more difficult.
The exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara has two of the three largest works I’ve ever exhibited in California [approximately 9 x 5 feet], and a collection of my works on paper which are rarely exhibited. The work has its own room to itself and so has the feel of a solo show inside a very strong group show.
The exhibition will be up until the end of the month, 29 March.
Eventually I, too, came to feel that in painting there was still more to be done, that there was meaningful, and possibly visually arresting, territory yet to be explored.
What remained, I felt, was a certain exploration of mark-making itself.
Mark-making freed of all its referentiality to the material world, to history, to story-telling, to materialistic pretension and dysfunction.
The added bonus, for me, was that this also placed such painting against the materialism buried deep within the culture around me. Painting that stood against materialism in both radical and subtle ways.