With a few months until an exhibit, I was compelled to reinvent and push myself to do more with less time. I purchased twelve large pre-stretched canvases and began a frenzied attempt to paint in the style of conceptual realism, departing from my usual loose brushstrokes and drawings. My new acrylic renderings were, in a sense, a return to the simple appreciation of the old masters and the post-modern painters that still examine realism.
I still vividly remember the criticisms of Andrew Wyeth, namely that he was an illustrator and not a true artist because his work was realistic in a time of modernity. Within the context of art periods, the ‘wrong’ style can have grave consequences. However, the art world’s acceptance of artists like Gerhard Richter who have painted realistically gives me hope that my work might find more acceptance. Even Wyeth’s name is appearing in art news with more frequency.
A touch of magical realism, for example, stylized clouds leaping from clothes to the negative space surrounding the subject, further brings the piece closer to conceptual realism, a term that has been used to describe art that attempts to express the unexplainable through realism. Since normal human thought and analysis can’t grasp non-conceptual thinking, I suppose art is naturally the ultimate vehicle to communicate the infinite.
The painting featured in this post, American Geisha No. 1, is an unapologetic obsession with feminine beauty—simple, straightforward and universal—the subject is a symbol for love and splendor. Note the tresses, shaped like a butterfly, the representation of transformation. After all, change is what we should all wish for, the dark chocolate way of perceiving the world—find what is opposite and fall in love. In a time of heightened racial tensions in America, falling in love with diversity, perhaps deeply, may be our only hope.
He became convinced that there would always be veils to hide the beauty of life. With every word that had ever left the ideal plane of his imagination there was a corresponding physical reality. Books were sacred records that pointed to splendor that was like the sun, sometimes obscured by clouds. He made tall stacks of books in his room, reluctant to return them, because of what they represented to him.
“You have to give them back sometime,” Hernán smiled.
“Let me just hold on to them a little longer,” Nuno said.
Hernán squatted to pick up a book and open it. “You remind me of when I was young and first began attending the university. I fell in love with books. I loved anthologies. I was especially taken by one book that featured essays by great thinkers. I feel almost jealous of you right now. It’s quite a feeling to have.”
Nuno gave Hernán a serious look. “I possess nothing. All I have is my mind. I think I’m at peace with that.”
“That’s not what happens to most men who have had your type of experience. They suffer from debilitating trauma the rest of their lives. The world has proven to be a dark and malevolent place. They don’t see anything good. How can you have peace?”
“I don’t know.”
“I wish you could give me some kind of answer. I’ve tried to help people my whole life. I give them advice. I try to encourage them. I try to inspire. I share wisdom with them—everything from Proverbs to the Tao. My main field of interest is psychology. But I have never found any coping technique or cure for emotional pain. And medication only works some of the time. How do you get inside someone’s head and fix their brain so they see life differently? How do you remove the past? How do you bring peace to a troubled soul? My congratulations to you, Nuno, for having mastered your emotions…”
That night, all Nuno thought about was Gabriela. It was almost as if remembering an apostolic age when miracles were possible. She was the savior of his heart, the life that filled his soul like an ocean. He wondered if it was really the book that he had stolen from Pablo that had changed his life, or whether perhaps it was walking through an orange grove with his daughter. Nuno tilted his head and brooded, utterly perplexed by this riddle.
Half asleep, he spoke to Gabriela: An ancient river of fallen tears and solitude brings my soul to you. Our two lips touch like fresh and salt water meeting. There is a deep and mysterious power in you. In our dreams or in the spirit world, somewhere between the manifested and unmanifested, there is something that is woven. It is our story. Brief but perfect, it devours all of existence. My love, my love, my love for you.“
My Curve the Cube podcast began one Saturday morning when I arrived at a Hilton DoubleTree to meet Jaime (“Jemmy”) Legagneur (who I happen to think is a future mega star). She was sitting in the lobby with all her gear, including the funny looking recorder with twin microphones. But just as I was arriving, it seemed a mob of people followed me into the building. The interview began almost immediately, but soon we had to find a quieter place to talk. Jemmy’s fascination with talking to a painter/author brought an energy to her questions that led me through a natural flow of summarizing what dark chocolate is, as well as my life as an artist. It was nice to be able to talk about both my novels and visual art and how they sometimes tie into each other.
(Excerpt from The Dark Chocolate Art of C. D. Aleman)
…Dark chocolate to me represents the good stuff—the nutritious, antioxidant rich form of the deliciousness derived from the seed of a cocoa tree—the best of all chocolates. A Dark Chocolate Japan, for instance, is the Japan Westerners have fallen in love with, from Godzilla movies to anime and technology. Although art and media can be seen as frivolous, when one culture falls in love with another, it is a testament that dark chocolate exists and we can love everything that is strange, different and exotic—the cartoons we grew up with, the ancient stories of Samurai and the Geisha, kokeshi dolls and kimonos we have admired from afar. But no matter where we are, even if we see the less than ideal, the sugary cheap chocolate defiling our existence, dark chocolate also exists. It does. It does…
I’m fascinated by ASMR and would like to write about it in more depth at some point. For now, I’d just like to share with you my first ASMR video. I shot it with a Sony action cam while I was painting ‘Winter.’
This painting was inspired by the art of Japanese woodblock prints, particularly Toshi Yoshida. It was rendered with acrylic paints on masonite wood panel. The scraping sounds of the dry brush technique have an ASMR effect.