The other night I was thinking about the variety of marks that I can achieve with the Chinese ink and the many characteristics that are possible. I love the boldness of the large, sweeping strokes that are possible. Simultaneously, I’m also quite engaged by the extremely light and thread-like strokes that the brushes are capable of. I started thinking about this idea of spider webs and physical connections that could be made between the figures through the water. Especially in the multi-figure compositions, I might experiment with the transformation of the ripples of water into webs that interconnect between figures. I had a similar idea in the Waiting Series about having the tracks of shadows connect and overlay, although it didn’t seem to quite work in the context of those works quite as well. I like the idea that the threads of webs in the water can layer over each other to an infinite degree.
Ink study from the “Wading”
A few years ago I went to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University to see the exhibition “Dreaming Now” which featured contemporary works that dealt with this theme of sleep and dreams. Hands down the best piece in that show was Chiharu Shiota’s installation “During Sleep”, which featured a series of beds that were covered in black thread, constructed to have a web-like feel. The amazing thing was that the black thread used was the most ordinary, boring thread you could find, but the shear amount of it that was used and how it occupied the space was quite stunning.
“During Sleep” by Chiharu Shiota
In terms of this idea of connections and interweaving webs, I’ve been a fan of Sarah Sze’s work for a long time. I’ve only had the chance to actually see one of her installations in person, “The Letting Go”, which was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a few years ago. I was, however, fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear her lecture on her work when she spoke at Harvard’s Carpenter Center last spring. In particular, I’m fascinated by the series of contradictions her work seems to embody, the fact that her work is simultaneously meticulously arranged and planned and yet maintains an extraordinarily spontaneous and chaotic tone. She’s certainly I think, doing some of the most exciting work out there today.