February 4, 2009

Post Post Proteges

For over a decade now, I have been photographing and painting shacks, sheds, abandoned homesteads and other edifices that show exposure to natural wear. My attraction to these is in the intersecting planes of complex colors and the textures of vegetation that weave a tapestry around them. The green patina on a rust red copper roof, the chipped layers of paint, and the worn grey wood all are beautiful in their erosion. I have been experimenting with simplifying the forms in these painting into their basic color planes and am contemplating the significance of this kind of abstraction.
The photograph I took on a recent road trip above details the formal arrangements of colors and shapes I have been after. The scene is from an abandoned hotel in Blackville, South Carolina. In making a study for a painting from this photograph, I simplified the planes of color to delineate their formal relationships. I saw recently that a former classmate from graduate school days, Mitchell Johnson, is using similar reductions in his paintings of architecture. This should not be surprising, because we are both third generation abstract expressionists, so to speak if one care to trace from our former professor, Paul Resika, to his teacher Hans Hoffman. Where and by whom one is trained has often lasting influence. Musicians claim that they can detect a Curtis or Julliard sound in performers trained at those schools. Similarly, I sometimes can see a Parsons look in the handling of paint by artists trained in that tradition.
There is something at work, though, in the Johnson/Kozachek handling of paint that goes beyond tutelage. The patinas of colors and simple planes on the architecture of rural South Carolina look like abstract expressionist art. Clip out a photographic detail of a worn doorway and it could be a Hans Hoffman canvas. Perhaps Mitchell Johnson’s and my own affinity for these shapes and colors can be attributed from South Carolina being my adopted state and Mitchell’s own experiences as a child in South Carolina and Virginia. So influences are not always what they first appear to be and perhaps not so simple after all.

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