NARRATIVES AND HALF-TOLD STORIES
Anxious Woman With Gray Squares, acrylic and collage, 2020
Lately I have, for not particular reason, been doing a lot of faces. I think I became enamored with the isolated face when, a couple years back, I did a raft of quick ink drawings based on that old comic-page character Jiggs. I didn't worry about fashioning a convincing conjunction of subject-matter and the formal arrangement of the picture. Instead, these were freely brushed efforts that ignored composition, as well as a subject's distinctive features that make up distinctive shapes. A snarl of a line, a blot, a spin of pigment could make up a face. You didn't need much: a few dots, an arc and dash or two and the brain up a face. These random blots and scattered marks landed where chance would have it.
This led to monoprints of characters that seemed to demand an implied narrative hanging on them. They got names -- Small Louie, Mister Diggs -- and then when the women arrived the characters took on more specific roles like smokers or in a couple of cases appeared as "molls' with smoking guns.
Obviously, I'm using the word "narrative" loosely. Any image that suggests another life outside the frame is enough to suggest a story of some sort. The woman above, for example, seems distressed by some anxious-provoking incidence that happened to her. The "self-portraits" in the Bust of Ricardo series are narratives because it's the life-beleaguered artist who's telling the stories. And Christ can't be represented even ironically without dragging endless myths along behind him.