Sunday, April 24, 2016

about painting

i don’t remember the moment
when art became important to me,
but i do remember when
i fell in love with mondrian.

while mrs. james loved pollock,
and would often sing his praises,
she at least made time for other voices.
i found all that splash and hiss
too bombastic, heavy-handed.
at that moment the terms were set:
it was either mondrian or pollock
(it would be years before i faced
picasso and cezanne, or
monet and matisse).
i suppose it need not have been
adversarial, but we must choose camps.

i loved the elegance of his project –
all those possible variations
with limited means. i spent hours
arranging and re-arranging
combinations of rectilinear bars
and blocks of red, yellow, and blue.
the elements seemed simple,
yet their effects maddeningly complex.

years later i visited the philadelphia museum of art
and visited the modern European art wing.
there, mondrian was paired with brancusi,
kindred spirits in their search for essences.
they were so small, and still
surprisingly thick and full
filigreed with cracks,
and no less elegant.