Hillel Kagan
08 May 06 by Hillel Kagan
Hillel Kagan artworks

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Pink Mat With Struggling Figures

From about 1987-'94 I worked on and off on a series of paintings of struggling figures. This is one of of the very early ones.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#188
24 May 06 05:00

I want to point out two paintings in particular, Pink Mat and Wrestlers in Foyer. In those paintings there is so much energy and drama. And with keeping the surroundings clear and almost empty you focus on this drama. That you shatter the bodies comes out as absolutely logic and not just as an aesthetical trick to make it look more interesting. The protaginists seem to splinter from tension. These Paintings are trilling. Do I have to mention the colouring and brushwork? It’s brilliant it’s great it’s extraordinary!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#255
08 Oct 06 14:21

..in complete agreement with Hanjo, and incredibly quirky that they should be wearing business suits. It's very humourous yet uncomfortable (a little forboding) at the same time.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#259
09 Oct 06 17:36

Maybe I told you before or maybe not that these struggling figure paintings arose from my father having been an amateur wrestler. He was also an inveterate junk collector. Amongst his crap I discovered some photo illustrations of wrestling and ju-jitso holds he had used to learn from. Originally I used them in tradional wrestlers' garb. "Wrestlers in Foyer" is in my portfolio here already. I'm going to upload the first one I ever did now.
The suits came later. More ambiguous and interesting as far as I was concerned I tried to marry them within the background of the house I was now living. They were very complicated paintings but I always thought of them as humourous.
I really would encourage more artists on this site to upload older works. It's nice to see where people have been and how they arrived at the work they're doing now. I know gallery directors only want to see your latest stuff but what we're talking about here is about the process of individual artists and I think that's interesting.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#260
09 Oct 06 21:50

Well, this may be a good idea Hillel. So let's have a try. For some days I'm going to load up thre of my older paintings (from 20003 to be more precise) from the series "At Arms Length" [LINK]

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#261
09 Oct 06 21:51

"From 20003" hehe. Oh the types!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#262
09 Oct 06 23:10

That'd great Hanjo, I look forward to seeing them.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1490
04 Dec 09 10:02

hallo Hillel, I feel every time your painting ... thank you

Wrestlers in Foyer
Wrestlers in Foyer
Wrestlers in Foyer

These paintings were really about my late father who in the mid '30s had been an olympic style wrestler (or as he put it, he rassled).

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#63
11 May 06 05:00

Judging by the comments I've read of his son, I'm sure Mr. Kagan senior won his contests by making his opponent laugh first, taking them off their guard.
The grappling energy of your work show you've also followed the rassling line - in your painting.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#186
12 May 06 05:00

I don't know who this john-paul is but any more disparaging remarks about my dear old pa of blessed memory (had to resort to tickling opponents to win) and I'm coming over to sunny Italy to knock his feckin block off. I'm told "feck" is the proper Oirish pronunciation. Seriously Delaney I thank you for your comments. I've been having a lot of fun on your site and appreciate all the time, energy and money you've put into it so that you and I can have a bit of a giggle conversing. However, I seriously doubt that any of the other artists on site will ever join in the dialogue. I know artists and when it comes to conversation they're
practically mutes. It's no wonder the dealers hate us with such passion. Besides for the fact that it assuages their guilty, thieving consciences, in many ways we are a bunch of whining, egocentric malcontents who deserve nothing better than the few scraps they may throw us for a bottle or tube of paint. So good luck with the project and I'll keep trying to stir the pot.

Front Room Large
Front Room Large
Front Room Large

I had found amongst my dad's stuff, photo-illustrations of wrestling holds he had used to practice from during his amateur career. I juxtaposed these with my new found interiors. That hand grabbing the guy in the green suit is as real a portrait of my late dad as is possible.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#160
09 May 06 04:00

This is truly a stupendous work.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#40
09 May 06 04:30

Indeed. The artist's a true genius for sure... have you any idea what it's about?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#163
22 May 06 05:00

Not a clue. My earlier comment was in jest. You may have noticed that I have slightly warped sense of humour. Actually at the time, I was just experimenting to see how this comment box works.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1782
12 Aug 14 18:05

A bit of Francis Bacon ?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1783
12 Aug 14 18:43

Aha..PK, despite appearing that you're new to AP (your presence is noteworthy as nothing ever happens here anyway!), it however does show you have an eye for quality. Although it's been remarked before on the appearance of FB (and many others) in Hillel's work, I can vouchsafe that he really is a very much a complex and unique artist in his own right. Having seen some Kagan originals (as you would expect these photos do little justice to the real deal), and having met him in an abortive attempt to bring artists together in Sicily in 2007, there is real beauty and excitement to be discovered when you have the the things there in front of you.
He also happens to be a master raconteur, some examples of which you might find in the forum (when it was used, sporadically, many years ago) [LINK]

Front Room Large
Front Room Large
Front Room Large

The household interiors and wrestlers were quite difficult to work out

Fallen Figures
Fallen Figures
Fallen Figures

???

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1087
07 Jun 08 00:49

Hillel

Man, you've got sure a consistent outpouring of material in terms of discussions and and critiques. I really enjoy reading them.By the way, I very much enjoy these images of the grappling men.This one in particular has a very humbling, pathetic thing going on with these guys. I feel you've restrained yourself from breaking up the forms here and I really think it works, the psychology all being suggested in the pitiful moment. The light is really nice too.I really dig these images you have of the small groupings of figures within the hopper-like stages.When you break and contort the images you do so so satisfyingly in these.I hope I can see them in person sometime.

P

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1090
07 Jun 08 01:25

Thanks very much for the compliment and comments Pat. These paintings of the struggling figures were a real "struggle" for me as I had to go against all my instincts, habits and sensibilities to find some kind of resolve because the images in my mind were so very clear and and all I could do was pursue them. They were never entirely successful, nothing ever is but in some kind of way I think they're about the best things I ever did. Most of the larger ones including this one are still in my possession so if you ever get out east to Toronto I'd be honoured to show them to you.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1095
07 Jun 08 08:17

Patrick, I recommend that you take him up on that offer, if you can. Last year we managed to persuade him to come to Sicily (for which he's been cussing me ever since) with a few of his recent smaller paintings (of the rabbi series). Only seeing them in real life do you notice the delicacy of how he applies his paint, the confidence with odd colour combinations (that work), along with the boldness of the image combine to make something really visually special. I guarantee they'll stick in your painter's mind for long afterwards.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1101
08 Jun 08 02:15

"Managed to persuade me to come to Sicily." Hey I'm a big boy, nobody can force me to do anything I don't want to anymore. The thing is Patrick, if you stick around this site a little bit you may find that like myself you start feeling close to certain people. Given the opportunity to meet them in the flesh, even though you know it makes absolutely no sense and there's no practical validation you just can't refuse and the reason for this may sound silly but really it shouldn't, people, simply become very fond of one another on AP. That being said JP's effusive comments about my work are beyond the pale in terms of complete Irish bullshite but I thank him anyway.

Staircase and Figures
Staircase and Figures
Staircase and Figures

This staircase has figured in quite a few of my paintings.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1316
20 Dec 08 06:33

Kagan, i must reaffirm my great pleasure in seeing these 'grappling' paintings in real life! It is an astonishing series of works! The large scale empowers the resonance of the images! I love the razor sharp creases of the men's suits, and I can actually hear the sound of their Oxfords on the hardwood floors. As if the figures, the settings, the atmosphere weren't enough, there is your masterful style to behold!
Thanks!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1317
21 Dec 08 01:10

Thanks Arnold, it was my great pleasure to show them to you and now your comments have so swollen my head that I have to take a few aspirins and lie down.

Photo Opportunity
Photo Opportunity
Photo Opportunity

What can one say?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#189
10 May 06 05:00

Interesting?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1599
28 Jan 12 10:20

Well, I suppose the ensuing silence to your question is your answer. To me, this looks like Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat or Hafez al-Assad (I remember his photo everywhere I went in Damascus many years ago, though I'm not sure he ever met with Begin) at some peace accord meeting photo opportunity as is the title of the work. I find it interesting in relation to your other suited figures who are instead bizarrely wrestling in middle-class domestic environments. I'm expecting these two to get up and do the same. Maybe your painting is to fix the moment that they've gotten this far, and not to go and blow it?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1600
28 Jan 12 23:29

Don't be supposin' so fast there young feller, I saw what you wrote but have been laid low with the flu and not up to responding. If I can bring myself to start painting again I'll start a new slog and although both of those thoughts fill me with dread I'll do it for you. I see you're still trying to get artists to talk and for the most part still failing, I admire your sporadic fortitude.
As for this painting the reference was the late Assad and King Hussein of Jordan. (Begin never sat with either of them, at least in the light of day). I always liked those photos of Arab leaders conferring in majestic halls and upholstered chairs.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1601
29 Jan 12 13:55

OK, so I got that completely wrong again. It's not even remotely about peace, and you probably had no intent of any political commentary.
Fat cats in chairs then.
Hope you recover soon from the 'flu, and signs of the coming Spring over there bring some cheer.
As for my failing attempts to communicate with artists, it does get ridiculous at times. I get fed up with the unchanging comments on the homepage, and decide to make a nuisance of myself. You're the only one left who'll put up with me - and even you'll get sense sooner or later!

Studio Table
Studio Table
Studio Table

Sometimes I just look around and paint what I see

Smokin'
Smokin'
Smokin'

Me.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#202
03 Aug 06 16:50

i love this piece, i feel like i`m swaying back and forth, sometimes catching a clear view, when other times the details are lost to me...
nice shapes and flow too...

yes
i like it

hilary

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#203
03 Aug 06 22:28

Thanks for your comments Hilary. What you describe is basically how I feel most of the time. Maybe it's the booze. But in any case I'm glad you like it.

Drinkin'
Drinkin'
Drinkin'

Me too.

Subway Painting III
Subway Painting III
Subway Painting III

The subway paintings were a theme I worked on for about a decade. Movement, colour, reflective light and deep space.

My Walking Shoes
My Walking Shoes
My Walking Shoes

Just what the title says.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#120
12 May 06 05:00

I idealized it. I'm a parquet freak.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#162
12 May 06 05:00

Nice parquet you've got there..

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1310
16 Dec 08 15:29

Referring to Kagan's new posts on his studio log - nothing can bring me out of my shell like Kagan's coloring outside the lines! Those three sketches...
but careful, you may find yourself on the road to ( heavens )pure Abstraction!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1311
16 Dec 08 17:01

I doubt it, I need the imagery to sustain my interest. By the way, there are five small sketches, click on the three of them to see them all.
This is a horrible jpeg of this painting, I didn't know what I was doing back then when I uploaded it or for that matter when I painted it.
Thanks for the comment.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1312
18 Dec 08 22:27

Oh, one other thing Arnold, I paint neither inside nor outside the lines in any of my paintings. These kind of still lifes were done for a break from my usual routine of trying to combine images and make it all work. This stuff was just paint what you see, no photos, just look and see type paintings. And when I look don't see lines (even in photos) so I don't paint them, just shapes and areas of colour, obviously where the edges of those shapes or colours meet or terminate you could say that's a line.

Since these paintings were more or less what Lucien Freud does, simply look, see and paint type things I'd assumed he paints the same way. But I saw a documentary on him recently and he was doing a portrait, the first stage of which, was his preparing on the canvas a detailed charcoal line drawing. That's something else I never do, I don't start in with any preliminary lines of charcoal or thinned paint but I do remember being taught to do that in school. And It shocked me that he did it, and I thought "gee I guess that's where I go wrong, you get it right with easily erasable and changeable charcoal first and then you fill in the colours...wow!! I still won't do it, I guess I'm too much of a "pure abstractionist".

Subway Painting II
Subway Painting II
Subway Painting II

I've always painted figures in enclosed spaces and have tried to obtain a sense of the figures in motion. I was riding the subway when I realized here I was in an enclosed space hurdling through space. The figures in the space were moving and so was the space itself.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1718
11 Mar 13 23:55

As requested [LINK]
And a bit of Canadian landscape as seen from my studio window, as close as I want to get. [LINK] Views and vistas have never moved me. Maybe it's the Canadian public's reverence for Canadian lansdscape painting that has made it difficult for me to actually look at the stuff.

Subway Painting I
Subway Painting I
Subway Painting I

This was the first subway painting. I was riding the train and could visualize all these paintings. I made a drawing of the man with the newspaper and for weeks I rode the trains daily gathering more information.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#410
30 Jan 07 17:57

a good artwork i like it

Runners
Runners
Runners

This is a picture of a friend of mine. He gets it, no one else has to.

Transit I
Transit I
Transit I

Another subway painting

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#248
05 Oct 06 23:01

hi hillel, love your work here, i find it realistic ina kind of slightly hallucinatory way..in other words more real than real! i find something of francis bacon in your work,but i mean that in a positive way, you also have your own style too..its just the nearest reference i could find..love it

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#250
06 Oct 06 16:34

Thanks Teresa. Man this site is really happenning. I can't keep up with all the new artists. I just checked out your portfolio and was truly knocked out.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#663
29 Oct 07 14:54

yes, I too see something of Francis Bacon in your work, altough not particularly in this painting.

Transit III
Transit III
Transit III

And another.

Platform (Large)
Platform (Large)
Platform (Large)

The first of the subway platform pictures.

Transit II
Transit II
Transit II

And another.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#140
24 May 06 05:00

Well, the transit series. Anonymous people, no one singled out, and melted into their surroundings. Just a collective movement. So far I can follow quite well. But then you use these semi circled brushstrokes as a pattern that covers the whole canvas and makes the painting look so ornamental. Why? But maybe I’ve missed the point.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#145
25 May 06 05:00

Well, I don’t want to compare the transit paintings with the ones that show individual figures. I think that working on the transit / commuter theme is very interesting for this is our daily life. The question is simply how to do it. If I got you right, your theme is exactly what I’ve said: Anonymous people, no one singled out, and melted into their surroundings. Just a collective movement. The danger is, as you pointed out, that when everything has equal weight everything disappears. To speak in colours you’ll get grey.
You claim that you actually see those semi circles but I guess what you see is all that glittering and all the reflexes you catch masterly in your paintings showing the inside of a subway. The semi circles I suppose are borrowed from F.B. and first used in your Rabbi portraits. And actually you use them now as a stylistic device. That’s dangerous.
In painting there still is that Renaissance dispute alive, line or colour. Renaissance decided drawing = line, the following Baroque decided colour. So did I. If there is a need for a line I go close to that area with my paint so any line will be just the leftover of the underlying colour. You are a master in colouring so maybe you should forget about lines. Those semi circles for me is kind of a lineament. Just ignite that firework of colours you are so good in. Perhaps this will show you how to solve the problem.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#137
25 May 06 05:00

You make some valid points and good suggestions that I will follow up on and I thank you for that. The circular forms don't come from Bacon. Actually I took Cezanne's advice of the cube, cylinder, cone and pyramid but changed it to the pure circle and square or if you prefer horizontals and verticals to be more truthful to the flatness of the canvas. I developed this form of projected measurement in my very early years.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#135
25 May 06 05:00

I attempt to activate the whole canvas and give equal weight to what you might refer to as the positve and
negative areas. The semi circles, etc are not a decorative contrivance. I actually see that stuff. In fact the whole canvas is constructed of such markings, each measured deliberately. I realize and your quite right that by isolating the figures against a simple ground the paintings would appear graphically more comprehensible and dramatic but that doesn't seem to be the goal I've set for myself so I keep trying. My dilemma is that when everything has equal weight everything disappears. I've lost many paintings that way so some comprimises have to be made in order retain any semblance of a readable image. It might be that what I want to do is imposssible and this painting another failed attempt. Thanks for your comments and sorry for the lengthy response.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#44
26 May 06 05:00

Excuse my edging in on your authoritative discussion gentlemen. I enjoyed it so much and was tempted to jump in - in my unlearned way - to rattle Hillel's cage a little :).
I'm in agreement with Hanjo's points on a masterful use of color (just looking at the portfolio page of all his works together is dazzling), and I agree with his impression of the apparant tendency to styistic device, as Hillel's ease with line strikes up a enclosing counter-effect that isn't easy to reconcile with the freedom of his color.
He seems to insist on maintaining the classic color vs. line conundrum (so well described by Hanjo), but I think he's not making much progress (that is - progressing, developing, moving on, growing the work) and instead get the impression that he's relying on his craft to come up with impressive works - but is probably capable of much more.
Personally I was struck by the circular painting "Swirling Figure I". I breathed a sigh of relief feeling he had that abandoned the repetitive pattern-making in that work, and didn't feel the weighty need to be faithful to the figure. It seemed the color was set free, and ends up dominating to make (in my opinion) a very successful piece that has a logic pointing to a possible way to the future.
- Just my two cents. Thanks again for a good read.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#164
28 May 06 05:00

It’s funny, I was only minutes away from writing a short comment about that it cannot be our business to tell other artists how to paint. If there is a tendency in my last comment it’s not what I had in mind. But I had the feeling that John-Paul walked a bit on that road. So I am very glad that you brought up that topic very clearly.

As for the Renaissance – Baroque thing I tried to put in one sentence a very complicated discussion that includes many aspects of aesthetical, religious, social, political, and last but not least technical issues. And of course Renaissance and Baroque were not that homogeneous as it may look at the first view. Claude Lorrain for example never really adopted a baroque attitude etc. But nevertheless the distinction line vs. colour is very helpful to understand the phenomenon. Line means rational, sober, intellectual, idealistic for to name just some items. Colour means emotion, ecstasy, devotion but down to earth and humbleness as well. It’s interesting, by the way, that the greatest masters in the beginning did not come from Italy but Spain and the Netherlands.
Well, Hockney described very precisely the influence of optical instruments that led to a more precise depiction of what was to be seen. In the first place what light does to a scene. To come back to what I am doing it is this „baroque“ attitude to only paint what I can see. No anatomy, no sceleton as construction, no drawings to find the ideal form etc. but surface and light. That’s why I use photographs as a model to catch the moment, the expression of one moment, alive and spontaneous and not frozen as with a model in the flesh half asleep. And of course I have to fight all that well known poses, those reclining nudes. And, for I paint the nude body all those erotic and sexual meanings unfortunately tied to nakedness. And so on and so on.

Freud, Pearlstein, Saville: Well with Freud I am ambivalent. I like his theme and his attitude but I have difficulties with his brushwork. Difficult to say. Pearlstein is too much reclining nude for me. I am not interested in this, absolutely not. But Jenny yeah. She is a goddess. I do not know any artist that handles paint like she does. In my opinion she is the master of the universe of painting. Every painting is a bath in paint ... incedible. She’s my only temptation and it’s hard to stay away from her and keep my own track. And besides her painting skills I admire her working attitude her addiction to painting her being a painter with every fibre of her body and soul. I am working hard, 8 hours every day, 7 days a week at least, but in comparison with her I am a distracted and lazy guy.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#138
28 May 06 05:00

Gentlemen, sorry for the delay in my response, I've been somewhat under the weather. Delaney, I appreciate your attempts to rattle my cage and bring out the best in my work. A more direct and urgently expressive approach is my goal for myself and I thank you for thinking me capable of achieving it. As individuals we all have different takes and sensibilities as to what constitutes modernity. For some its not even an issue so we have to be sensitive to what the artist is going for. It may not be our cup of tea and we have to be careful in our criticism not to project our own values.
I for instance actually differ with Hanjo on his take on the Rennaissance (linear) v.s. the Baroque (colour). To me Baroque is an extension of Rennaissance with a shift towards a less idealized sense of the human form. Yet the same perspectival devices and monocular vision remain. For me this is the antithesis of modernity. I recognized immediately in Hanjo's work a certain Northern Baroque sensibility. However he brings modern relevance into his work with his large scale imagery, the flattening of space and the concentration the figure or figures in unusual poses. I would like to hear from him his take on the following three artists. Not that I see any particular connection or influence, just that I think he must have given them some thought and it would help me understand his art a little better. They are Lucien Freud, Philip Pearlstein and Jenny Saville. There is no commonality between any of the three of them or to Hanjo (maybe Saville slightly) but I'd be interested.
As for you Mr. Delaney, not being an abstract artist myself I'm not exactly sure what you're after from your art, except that from previous discussions and your admiration for Guston I suspect its a more direct, expressive form of abstraction. Because I too think you're capable of your breakthrough let me just say that you seem to be caught in some kind of trap. Although somewhat reminiscent of Kupka and Delaunay you see to go round and round and the work goes into itself and becomes somewhat claustrophobic. Somehow you have to learn to break up the space, fragment the compositions and give yourself some more possibilities.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#45
29 May 06 04:30

OK gentlemen... Hillel, apologies, I retract my statements. I should know better to try take on the big players. I guess it showed too easily I was a bit out of my depth. Nevertheless, when I've exhibited in the past, I was always more interested in the comments and criticism of those I considered my peers, and especially those whose work I admired. Therefore I'll ask you both for some suggestions on how to break free from this creative trap I've built for myself, as indicated by Hillel. It's a bit off topic here - apologies too for my attempts at hijacking the train of thought of Transit II. Maybe Hillel if you'd like to elaborate on what you were saying as a comment on a piece by me later on? Many thanks.

I'm enjoying your discussion.
/j-p.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#116
29 May 06 05:00

No apologies necessary, j.p. It's all part of the dialogue, but I think my point was made. We all have a different take on this thing we call art and that makes life interesting.For instance, Hanjo's inspiration coming from the Baroque, (and I accept his viewpoint I'm certainly not going to argue with his scholorship in this area). Neither the Renaissance nor the Baroque played a role in my development, but interestingly enough we've come to pretty much the same conclusion. He says no anatomy, no skeleten etc. (I will add prospective). I call it the "innocent eye", to see like a newborn infant who has no experience in the world, yet to measure those perceptions like the creative physicist. In this, and this is for you, Delaney, you will find an endless supply of new surprising forms and configuartions that are not cliched or hackneyed, but it's a damn hard job.
Hanjo, thanks for your answer to my question about the three painters. I pretty much guessed what your response would be. I just wanted to see how many of our threads interwove. There is much connection but I have much less ambivelance about Freud than you even though I know his surfaces get pretty clogged up which for me would be a problem, it doesn't seem to be for him and he finds such interesting forms. I actually quite often like his mistakes better than his successes. I'm not as much of a sensualist painter as you are, paint and colour not being an issue for me, but I like it, I even love it when I see it. I see it in your work and of course in Saville's paintings which I also greatly admire. Actually what I admire most about her is how much she is able to see in those vast canvasses of almost total white flesh. Once again we are probably talking about the same thing using different terms. My disinterest in Pearlstein doesn't stem from what he paints but how. He is a painter with a system and that to me is deadly. Although he paints directly from life he is akin to Chuck Close and other photo-realist painters (I don't get their enterprise at all). When he starts a painting, he knows he will finish it and he knows what it will look like. No surprises, no anxiety, no life.
By the way, I'm glad you brought up Hockney. I'm not a great fan but I don't like to see him disparaged as so many do. He's a "scientist" and has contributed greatly to this endeavor of ours that I call Visual Philosophy.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#46
30 May 06 05:00

Well, you guys.. the more you write, the better the conversation gets. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the experience of the site, just let me know - every now and then I make changes based on input from others.
... And I'll be happy to sell the rights to the book when you've finished :)
!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#165
30 May 06 05:00

Hanjo all your points are well taken, sorry for my slight confusion and I definitely don't want to turn this into a book so I think we should end this one here. Thanks for a fruitful discussion.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#148
30 May 06 05:00

Well, your conclusion that my „inspiration is coming from the Baroque“ is pretty much off the track. So please let’s repeat just a few things for maybe my unexperienced English led you to think this way. Or maybe I have misinterpreted this sentence.
What I tried to say was, if you take it very simple, that there are two different points of view of how to go to work with painting. The one is to follow an idea, to make a concept, to construct it etc. The other is to look at something and try to find out what it is telling you. The first one is inventive the second one curious just for to name the main points. These two trends you can find since the beginning and you will find them in the future as well. The Renaissance discussion I mentioned and which Vasari reported did only show this issue and shortened it into the two terms line and colour. That was all about Renaissance and Baroque period. I have always seen me as an intellectual, devoted to enlightment, but in the course of time I became more and more suspicious of theories, ideologies and concepts. Being so much theoretical, ideological and conceptual makes me increasingly uneasy with most of the contemporary art (and politics etc. as well). So in general I prefer looking at things and trying to understand what they have to tell me than to produce an idea and telling things how they should be according to my theory. So when it comes to „inspiration“ it will be from taking in instead of introducing. When casually I find this attitude in many of the Baroque paintings it’s just a similarity I am familiar with. When you take all paintings ever made you certainly can sort them into these two categories. And Freud and Saville will obviously belong to the „Baroque“ category as well as the early Chuck Close. So if I like a painters work or if I dislike it it certainly will have do with that.
You call it the „innocent eye“ but I think that misses the point. I would prefer to call it the „humble eye“.

Well, so much for now. So as our discussion deepens (I have to scroll deeper every day (grin) I fear that we are going to produce kind of a book on this site and John-Paul is called to make plans of how to handle it.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#893
04 Mar 08 16:30

You do have excellent control over the medium... oils right? I love the colors... especially the reds. I'm in love with the left side of this work. I love the overlapping reds.

Hall to Studio
Hall to Studio
Hall to Studio

The photo illustrations I used were of young guys in the 1930s. Remember John Garfield and people like that. At age eighteen they were full grown (all be it short and compact) men and they fit beautifully onto the canvas unlike the tall beanpoles we grow nowadays. I guess its all the protein. And weed instead of booze.

Head #2
Head #2
Head #2

I had done some very early paintings (post artschool) on this theme and wanted to re-explore it.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#565
24 May 07 00:46

Here I am again, looking at your Rabbi heads, late at night , while everybody is sleeping. Dont know why, guess curiosity and a mixed feeling of strangeness and tenderness, that is what they make me feel . I read your comments and they take me back to a book I read a long time ago, called “ Grietas como templos” in spanish, I dont know if it is published in english, and Im too tired to translate that. But in a way these heads remind me of that book, your faces seem to dissapear underneath a turmoil of slashes and colours, but somehow they struggle out again to the surface. That book talked about the great loss of talent that ocurred in Europe during the second world war, with the almost complete anihilation of the jews, that constituted a stratus of musicians, writers, artists, etc. A long list of emerging intellectuals dissapeared, and the book studied how terribly it affected European culture. But somebody wrote about them , and I read the book. And still remember it. I like those heads, although they seem so strange and far away from me.
As you can imagine I feel closer to your circular nudes, who hasn’t felt that way sometime? Trapped, nude,crouching and alone under a hard light,or is it a total silence ? dont know, but the thruth is your work is bursting with human anxiety, and that is what makes me love it, It’s hard to find an artwork that expresses loneliness like “cafeteria” or “confined figure II”, and I think that is the main theme of your subway images.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#566
24 May 07 19:59

Karen, that is very well spoken. I have exactly the same feelings for Hillel's work. Thank you for putting it into words.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#567
26 May 07 00:05

Karen, I want to thank you for your comments, it's not the first time you've astounded me with your profound depth of thought and feeling both in your paintings and words. When I first started this series of "Fundamentally Heads" my intention was to explore the whole scope of the worldwide trend towards fundamentalism found amongst all the religions. With my typically Jewish tendency ( a bad habit born of being on the outside) to find commonality I started with my own group first. Painting is strange in that obviously you're not going to unravel mysteries of behavior or change the world in any way but it does afford you the time for contemplation. I had intended to carry on with other images I had collected but found that I couldn't in good conscience make the connection between Jewish orthodoxy and people who believe fundamentally and totally in a book, be it the Bible or Quran as complete and utter moral and historical truth. To be sure there are some similarities, a tendency towards stricter regulations. Outward displays of religiosity and a dogmatic belief in the correctness of their positions. However the book that the Jews believe in fundamentally is the Talmud. The Talmud literally means "study" (of the Torah) and since the belief is that the world was created for the Torah and the Torah contains the whole world, that has made the Talmud an open ended, never to be finished work on every subject imaginable. Extreme views and outer religious displays are frowned on in the Talmud. Modern science and medicine and technology have to be reconciled with Torah seeing as the Torah is the repository of all truth and therefore must be logical and in keeping with what we know to be scientifically and historically true. The Talmud's mandate is one of question and response and interpretation and re-interpretaton until finally consensus is achieved, although contrary opinions are always left in for one's consideration. That is what brought me to The Great European Torah Scholar series. because I truly believe that the type of open minded questioning culture of the Talmud, when it was applied secularly to the arts and sciences was extremely productive and beneficial.
I don't know of the book you read. I found it but it was never translated into English but I had read something by Anshelm Keifer where he said that when Hitler wiped out Germany's Jewish population he also wiped out half of Germany's culture, an amputation that will be felt for years to come. That also inspired those paintings.
As for your other comments about solitude etc. I think you're right but I really don't concern myself with it. I've always maintained that for an artist the best thing is just to deal with formal aspects. One's own inner torment, demons, joy or whatever will always come through so there's no need for contrivance. There's more angst in Cezanne's apple than Bacon's total oevre.

Head #6
Head #6
Head #6

I referenced clippings and images from Yiddish and religious Jewish journals.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#476
09 Mar 07 10:12

Dear Hillel, I have been looking at your studio log when it occured to me: you are the only artist I know that begins with short of abstract forms and then transforms them into figurative and not vice versa. How interesting!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#477
09 Mar 07 23:21

Maria, I'm not exactly sure what you mean but if It's that I start with abstract form, that's true but I also finish with abstract form. That's the nature of painting even representational or figurative, afterall it's not life it's paint and in that I'm the same as every other artist I know of including yourself. Thanks for reminding me about the the log and that I've got to back and start explaining my process.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#478
11 Mar 07 18:01

I am aware of the terms of representation and of the fact that everything is an abstraction at the bottom line. What I meant was that in the course seeing (nature) one perceives first what one has been taught to perceive, that is forms that correspond to e.g. a face, a body, a landscape. Secondly, one discovers the abstract forms that in some strange way the mind puts together to recognise this or that. In painting the order of these actions usually is the same. The more one works a piece the more one experiments with how far one can go in evidencing the very elements of painting. Form and colour regardless the subject’s “recognisability” . Sometimes with not so happy results. Remember Frenhofer?

The impression I got from your work is that the more you work a piece the more the image moves from an analysis of the form to its visual reconstruction. I found that original.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#479
12 Mar 07 22:06

Maria I try to forget about the " thingness" of what I am painting and just try to get down the abstract forms of what I am seeing. In the beginning it's just the largest most interesting shapes and rhythmic thrusts. Everything must be measured and relationships in size and colour set out as precisely as possible, a difficult task in that you can look at the same thing in so many different ways, so you have to hold your original vision firmly in your mind. The more relationships you get down the easier the process becomes unless of course as you get down to the smaller and more subtle shapes and forms you begin to see that you made a mistake in your earlier measurements and this happens quite often. So with all your strength you must undo what you've done even though you might enjoy some aspects. In other words you try not to get too locked in. If you carry this process to its conclusion the finished result should resemble the naturalistic scene that inspired it. Of course you can get bogged down and never stop seeing more and more and that's when you get your Frenhofer effect. I never read the the story but I intend to now because it seems to me that I've been there often. You see the problem is you can't finish the painting until it has at least something of the nature that you first saw. I don't particularly care about the recognizability factor as long as I get what I saw, I don't care if others see the same thing or not.
Thanks for the compliment about "originality" although I'm not sure I agree.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#974
30 Mar 08 18:54

You see that is what I was trying to say once on a comment I made your Head #6. As I understand it, what happened in the early 1900 was the fragmenting and rethinking of the object first and the way we perceive it and then that of the two dimensional picture plane. Cezanne for example talked about representing the world using the cube, the cone and the sphere and not the square, the triangle and circle. It was all about understanding the most elementary structural elements beneath things and consequently learn to perceive nature through its structure. Once achieved, this new way of seeing, it was like revealing the matrix so you could enter the forms and play from the inside. Rearrange, decompose, reconstruct. All about the form. Colour came second. Allow me to believe that suprematism was the only –ism that had little to do with form and vision. Again, as I understand it, it was rather an iconoclastic movement that had more to do with theology than visual perception.

Now, thank you so much for believing in my efforts. I am extremely interested in understanding what you see in them, so I will ask you to try and define what you mean. When I was working with grays what I was looking for was the form i.e. the structure, and I still am. I suppose this improvement of the colours came naturally as I am becoming more experienced and less a chicken in front of the canvas. For the record again, my background, meaning what they were teaching when I went to school, is exactly the early 1900 breakthrough. That is why I think my work may have taken a promising turn but not an entirely new one. It is my turn to thank you for the “unique” and say I am not entirely sure I agree.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#971
30 Mar 08 18:56

Sorry, I pasted the above under the wrong image. This was meant as a response to another comment of yours.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1069
25 May 08 16:39

Hillel, I love what you say "afterall it's not life it's paint" - as an actor I am constantly horrified by reality programming..Lee Strasberg said: it's not about being natural, it's 'naturalism' that is art makes the comment, transfor,ms reality via the artists vision..the representtaion of relaity itself is not art in acting or painting..

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1070
25 May 08 16:40

oops shoulda spell checked

Head #4
Head #4
Head #4

An anonymous yeshiva student plucked from a throng.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#213
07 Jun 07 05:49

MUY BELLA OBRA

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#579
07 Jun 07 23:23

Agredece mucho, el es muy bueno de usted decir tan. Tambien mucho gracias a Google por sus herramientas de traduccion.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#580
10 Jun 07 13:38

If I were you and having read the translation, I wouldn't thank Google at all,now I know what a laughter antonio must have had when reading one of my messages , translated the same way into Italian.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#581
10 Jun 07 16:25

So Karen, do me a favour and tell me what I said. I need a good laugh today.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#582
10 Jun 07 18:59

He is very thankful,he is very good from you to say so much. Also many thankyous to google for its translation tools.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#584
10 Jun 07 19:33

T makes more sense than most of the stuff I say in English.
Thanks Karen!

Head #1
Head #1
Head #1

The first one.

Head #7
Head #7
Head #7

A great Torah scholar.

Swirling Figure III
Swirling Figure III
Swirling Figure III

I entered a competition for artists based on the circle. Besides a cash prize,the winning painting or paintings were going to be printed as a line of artistic paper plates. I lost. I guess the idea of eating your dinner off some broad's ass isn't as appealing to some folks as it is to me.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#39
16 May 06 05:00

You didn't lose. You just didn't win. There's a difference.

Swirling Figure I
Swirling Figure I
Swirling Figure I

Here's That ass I told you about.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#64
12 May 06 04:30

This one took me by surprise - like a leap into abstraction - it seemed exciting, a progression into an unknown. Did you follow-up on this tendency to see where it led, or am I completely off-track in my musing?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#153
12 May 06 05:00

Actually JP, if there's any tension in my work at all and I hope there is, it comes from that very conflict of resolving the figaritive with the abstract. I think all art, at least good art is an abstraction. You're right though, sometimes my work, especially the larger ones tighten up way too much for my liking and I paint myself into a corner. That's when I throw my brushes down in despair and run howling and screaming to the nearest liquor store. It's much easier to keep things loose and open in these smaller format paintings where I haven't presented too many hurdles for myself.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#65
12 May 06 05:00

Ha-ha I've just now seen that other circular painting of yours, and read your initial comment on how they came about. It makes what I've said above more than a little dumb.

Dumb or not, I'd be very interested to see more exploration in this direction (of abstraction, or her ass - the choice is yours).

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#66
14 May 06 04:00

Would it make any sense to suggest dump all that figurative baggage (that you're so good at) and just resolve paint on canvas without the tricks? Sometimes I look at artist's work and think talent can turn out to be the worst enemy. I wouldn't have considered that in your case until I saw this painting. My first reaction was wow!
I'm not sure why but I thought to myself this guy's going after something more, beyond, a search for freedom.
Melodramatic huh?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#132
14 May 06 05:00

Thanks for the comments J.P. When I get a chance I'll post some of my earlier, more abstract stuff. The funny thing is beneath the surface of them there's all this very resolved imagery that drove me nuts. I guess we all have to follow our own paths. I've tried pure abstraction but it doesn't sustain my interest. Funny you should mention Guston though, because it is all about freedom. He stopped doing his sophisticated abstract impressionist thing and went back to the imagery he loved. It shook up the artworld but you can sense the fun he had doing it and he was an old man. It's the little Gustonesque things I sometimes get that keeps me going.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#67
14 May 06 05:00

...thought I'd better add this - I don't think abstract work equals liberation. For example, the celebrated "switch" from abstract to figurative by Philip Guston was again about a search for a truth. It went against the NY artworld tendency at the time, but it worked for him.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#37
15 May 06 05:00

...yep, and Bacon, Chagall , Fra Angelico (I'd cite for the color) Boccioni, Hopper, and American 50's advertising, amongst others. I'd certainly hate to be the Toronto art critic whose job it is to find your influences. It's just so difficult to pin you down.
There is a definite something "on the edge" about the work, it doesn't allow me relax, but insists on it's own path that's really a tightrope walk. A balancing act between poles? If so, I think the poles of figuration and abstraction is a little too simplistic an argument in this day and age
So just what is this high-wire act you're doing all about, mister Kagan?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#133
15 May 06 05:00

Wow! My work really seems to open some raw nerve in you. I let those earlier remarks about "figurative baggage", tricks, talent etc. go before because I preferred to think you weren't trying to goad me deliberately but I guess you've forced me to respond. Firstly, thanks for the illustriative company you've put me in. I really don't consider myself worthy. Besides for Bacon with whom the comparison has come up before, the others, although I admire them have had little to do with my growth, if any, as an artist. As for Bacon, I actually was trying to copy Diebenkorn's figurative works in my early paintings but they came out Baconesque. I think it's my rythmic approach to drawing that I developed since student days when I was, compared to my peers, probably amongst the least "talented" guy around. I don't believe in talent either. There is not a one of the "talented" ones I went to school with that are still doing this shit. I've never waivered from my devotion to Cezanne and then Giocometti as my real heroes and inspiration. The innocent eye combined with an ever growing ability to measure from one's inner clock (not that rigid Limey art school plumb line kind of measuring). That for me is where a never-ending supply of new forms and configurations can be discovered. And when and if I can obtain that ability to measure completely unconsciously that's where freedom lies.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#403
28 Jan 07 10:55

Dear friends, do you really believe there is such a thing as an innocent eye? I am currious.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#409
30 Jan 07 01:13

I say "innocent" in the sense of trying to eliminate the mind from the seeing process. The mind has the experience of what a thing is like. It is possible to see just the abstract forms and shapes and to make yourself forget about what the mind knows or remembers. What is a nose? What is an eye ? If you can just see in the abstract you can get closer to the reality. So in that sense I agree the process itself is not really "innocent" as in naive or unknowing. Also in the end you do look at finished work from the perspective of your own sensibilities, the forming of which was definitely not an innocent process.

Head #8
Head #8
Head #8

The greatest scholar.

Head #10
Head #10
Head #10

A great Rov (Rabbi).

Platform Study I
Platform Study I
Platform Study I

I did a bunch of small ones on paperboard so I could take them to galleries without having to leave them 35mm. slides.

Platform Study II
Platform Study II
Platform Study II

The galleries didn't want to actually see these small paintings. They prefer slides because they can hold the teeny, tiny little images up to the light and tell you they stink.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#664
29 Oct 07 15:08

That made me laugh! I like these small paintings anyway and they've given me an idea on how to tackle a project I'm doing this comming year. Will put the stuff up on Studio log.

Red Living Room
Red Living Room
Red Living Room

Some people thought these things were violent. I thought of them as humorous, choreographed dances.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#665
29 Oct 07 15:12

It' just struck me that the style of these paintings is like certain artists from the '30s. Was that deliberate or unconscious, given the subject matter?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#669
29 Oct 07 17:35

Thanks for all your comments Anne. Which artists from the '30s are you referring to? I'm curious even one example would suffice.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#672
30 Oct 07 15:11

Edward Hopper comes to mind but there is also a British artist whose name I can't bring to mind. Will post it when I remember.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#682
30 Oct 07 21:43

I do like the spatial aspect of Hopper's work and think I have, from time to time attained a bit of that feeling in my work. In answer to your original question, if it is there it was absolutely unconscious.
I appreciate your observation.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1183
04 Sep 08 04:34

J.C.Leyendecker

Kiosk
Kiosk
Kiosk

Study of Bertha and Joseph
Study of Bertha and Joseph
Study of Bertha and Joseph

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#666
29 Oct 07 15:14

well!!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#803
18 Jan 08 20:50

Is that as in "well done!!!" or just "well!!!" the way Jack Benny used to say it?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#807
25 Jan 08 18:55

As usual your implacable x-rayed way of describing the truth of long time relationships gives full meaning to this work; it is a bitter and merciless psychological analysis of this couple, her personality firmly imposed over his unstable and shattered figure. Their spaces, clearly separated, could be cut with a knife, nothing would keep them together but the sofa, and time.
I was just wondering about through Artprocess, and discovered this comment on your work, “well”; and thought is this the best word to describe this painting?. I would ask Anne to continue the comment if she has time, this web is meant for that, and I’m also interested “well what?”.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#808
25 Jan 08 19:25

Poor Joe... I know the feeling.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#809
25 Jan 08 20:32

Don't know what you mean john-paul....

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#810
25 Jan 08 22:27

Karen, you got it in one. Without going into who the people are, they're gone from this world now, you're observations are pretty much right on the mark. You've conveyed it much better verbally than I could have. Quite a few times I"ve rejected offers to sell this painting because of its personal significance to Donna and myself.
And JP obviously I know what you mean however you're full of shite and I know you say it in jest, don't forget I've met Semina, however a few ales in me, and speakin' with the lads I'd be jokin' likewise.
Now howzabaout it Anne.... "well?"...

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#811
26 Jan 08 19:28

I can't remember making this comment (been moving house, mind elsewhere.)
If it was me,sorry, I can't remember.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#812
28 Jan 08 16:19

On reflection, the above comment is inadequate. I think I meant "Well, what can you say!" The thing that goes through my head is "bad day on the Planet." A touch of the werewolves. Somebody feeling rough. I find it amusing really.

The Conversation
The Conversation
The Conversation

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1726
13 Apr 13 12:41

Not sure how I missed this fine painting (maybe because before I had limited the upload size, and the reproduction wasn't so clear then). Viewing this full size now is a real spectacle, and I'm changing my rating to masterpiece (that's a first for me), as I believe it's one of the best works you've done. Other than the understated tones, the exciting pictorial format of light thrusting and breaking, it's a gold mine for critical/philosophical analysis and interpretation with that figure disappearing into shade, and the calm knowing gaze of his interlocutor. One day Kagan, after you're long gone, this one will be the subject of a dissertation.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1727
13 Apr 13 17:49

Bellissimo!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1728
14 Apr 13 22:50

Thanks, everything you've said is absolutely true, I have nothing to add.

Confined Figure II
Confined Figure II
Confined Figure II

The Morning After

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#559
08 May 07 10:35

Terrifing, Powerful, Painful,............Art......!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#667
29 Oct 07 15:18

I like this but..dunno - the face shows pain but the posture is relaxed. The figure and the room are at odds.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1032
27 Apr 08 10:29

Hi Hillel, I like this painting. Isolation, meditation and solitude are very present here. It rememinds me the Hopper's empty rooms.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1033
27 Apr 08 10:29

Hi Hillel, I like this painting. Isolation, meditation and solitude are very present here. It rememinds me the Hopper's empty rooms.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1035
27 Apr 08 19:15

Thanks Frederico, I'll take that as a compliment and it's very appreciated.

Confined Figure II
Confined Figure II
Confined Figure II

The Night Before

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#668
29 Oct 07 15:20

I think this works much better than the previous one. There is an overall feeling of tension.

Recoiling Figure
Recoiling Figure
Recoiling Figure

From 1983 to 1985 I call my mental illness period. I had just jumped in, more or less as a full time painter and I was really blocked by the enormity of my disastrous decision, you know financially and all. No contact, alone all day. Getting used to working when no one is forcing you to. So I just started painting that feeling. Yeah, Delaney I was exploring that Bacon tendency!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#231
29 Sep 06 09:58

Yes, one can see Bacon, but this work has more life to it. Something here is reaching out, coming forward. Excellent painting....!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1594
23 Jan 12 10:33

"Enormity of my disastrous decision..". As a phrase that appears to be hugely negative. Did you mean it was disastrous at the time, or now looking back in retrospect? Presumably at the time it had to do with not having enough money to get by. Still, I'm convinced it's a [BIG RISK] decision all artists have to make at some stage in their life.
What brought that two-year crisis to a close?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1596
23 Jan 12 21:11

It's a bind because on the one hand you simply can't expect to make a living as a full time (creative) artist and on the other, it's practically impossible to develop your art fully on a part time basis. So ultimately the decision to be an artist is usually a tragic choice. My definition of tragic is not living up to one's potential. That's why an early death is such a tragedy. The inability to devote the necessary time to one's art is also tragic. You can't have everything in life and thinking you can is crazy. To be an artist usually requires sacrifice; material, emotional and most of the things people think of to lead a normal comfortable life i.e. stable relationships, marriage, children, home and hearth, etc. Most of us fall into some of those things before we're fully acquainted with ourselves, what we want, and what it means to be an artist. We find ourselves stuck and frustrated.

As art enamored students we're filled with vague idyllic and usually impossible notions. I wonder how many young people enter art colleges nowadays with absolutely unrealistic ideas of what it means to be an artist and how the art world works. Like all the kids who want to be rock stars as opposed to musicians they want to be art stars as opposed to artists.

On a practical level it's even difficult to earn a living in the applied arts, graphic design, illustration and for that matter architecture. And though it can provide a living teaching generally kills an artist's spirit. Keeping it all together and finding a balance can be a lifelong struggle. That's why most rational people give up. The crisis never comes to a close. As you get older and nearer your own demise you just don't care all that much.

Passsengers
Passsengers
Passsengers

Transit IV
Transit IV
Transit IV

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#232
29 Sep 06 10:01

Kagan, this is great painting. There's plenty of painting history here, but the blur of today is uniquely contemporary....! Bravo.......!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#244
01 Oct 06 01:33

You're obviously a person of great intelligence and taste and I bid you welcome to the Art Process site. Seriously though, I do appreciate your kind comments.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#245
02 Oct 06 18:49

I try not to look for myself in other painters. This allows me to appreciate the widest possible range of creative endeavors, and to continue growing as a spirit. I'm always delighted when I encounter good work and this site offers the opportunity to make constructivecomments. There's plenty of foolish jealously, envy, and shortsightedness out there.........

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#246
04 Oct 06 16:13

I think you're right to take the attitude you do and you put it well. If we only look to ourselves in the work of others we would never learn anything new. Obviously we all attach ourselves to different strands of art history and make our personal choices based on the quirkiness of our individual natures and tempements but like you I believe we should always keep ourselves open to new p ossibiities. I've looked at your porfolio on this site and visited your website and can say that your work is extremely expressive and well executed and although you come at it from a different spot than myself it doesn't prevent me from respecting and enjoying what you do but more on that later when I visit and comment on your work on site.
As to your comments about envy, etc. At my age I've pretty much seen it all and I generally ignore it or steer clear of certain people. However the reasons are obvious enough, a billion artists and a very small art market pie to carve up being the main. That's why this site is so refreshing (all respect to John-Paul for his concept and blood and sweat he's put into realizing it) it has nothing to with the market, just communication between artists and hopefully fraternity.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#247
05 Oct 06 14:13

Hi Kagan, I hope you don’t mind me addressing you by using Kagan. I just like the sound of the name. Fraternity, strands, spot, these are fantastic words, and you’ve used them in an artful coherent way. “Fraternity”, well hopefully humanity is on the road to some kind of understanding of itself. We’ll either wake up from our slumbering stupidity, and put the pieces together or we won’t, but the “we” implies a pluralistic approach to our continuity, and intellectual concepts like fraternity certainly provide a more interesting framework with which to advance than some of the benchmark fundamentalist notions that wield the sword of fear . Great minds and spirits, have passed our way and left the essence of their light behind, so there really aren’t many valid excuses for remaining spellbound in the shadows. Reason, what an awesome, marvellous and uniquely human evolutionary development………”Strands”, but of course all the way back to DNA, or Henri Bergson’s creative evolution and initial “élan” or impulse. In art, as in life this fiber-strand aspect is not always immediately decipherable, but it undeniably exists.…… Pollock was to Gorky, as Gorky was to Miro, as Miro was to Picasso as Picasso was to Kandinsky etc. and yet Pollock studied with Thomas Hart Benton, and for me this is where the notion of strands starts to become really interesting and begins to confuse linear thinking people who see strands as being straight, taught and apparent rather than the bending, stretching, sinuous, folding synaptic correspondence that probably is the material result of a tremendous explosion some 14 billion years ago. For me the “spot” is like a perch. You’ve got to have it to rest, and create something intelligent. It gives you perspective, and a place to start from. If you’re in flight all of the time it’s pretty hard to transcribe the voyage. Ours is a grand tree with many branches………….and the roads to liberation are infinite.
I wasn’t specifically referring to envy etc. in the “art world”, but more in the general sense. The important thing for me is doing the work, and challenging myself. This is why I’m not still living in New York City on the Lower Eastside where I was in the 1970’s right before the big graffiti explosion, but that’s another story. I’ve never been apart of the art world pie slicing party, and it’s highly unlikely that I ever will be in the “Cruella” sense. I’m just not going to paint like this person or that person, or perform numerical cartwheels in order to please some insipid gallery director. In the 1970’s I cleaned out two foot block long piles of pigeon dung between buildings in New York, and in the late 1980’s I was the chief negotiator for a multi –million dollar contract between two French, and American High Tech companies, so as Joni Michel would say I’ve looked at both sides. Its not easy staying centered, but if my art leads to nothing more I can thank it for getting me there. I’ll look forward to reading your comments, and seeing more of your work.

Platform III
Platform III
Platform III

Platform III
Platform III
Platform III

@@@

From theLiving Room
From theLiving Room
From theLiving Room

&

Aquarium Figures (side A)
Aquarium Figures (side A)
Aquarium Figures (side A)

I tried to envisage two female figures in a box and how they would interface from all sides.

Aquarium Figures (side B)
Aquarium Figures (side B)
Aquarium Figures (side B)

I tried to envisage two female fgures in a box and how they would interface from all sides.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#596
28 Jun 07 13:55

Maestro Kagan, wanted to ask you something, do you know a painter named Maya Kulenovic?, she works in Canada. What do you think of her paintings, especially her faces? I'd like to have your opininion as well as Hanjo´s, just curiosity. If you dont have time now, ( seems like everybody is preparing things for Trapany, this web is paralysed) we’ll talk about it in Trapany.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#600
30 Jun 07 17:16

I have been looking at her paintings for two entire days. I would like to take part in this conversation too. Hillel and Hanjo, do take a look [LINK]

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#608
14 Jul 07 01:20

Well I've looked at her website and there are some interesting things however I'm not a great lover of Caravaggio or single source lighting arranged for effect in a darkened studio. Movie makers have used this technique wonderfully to produce great dramatic effects and in a way Caravaggio and others performed the same function for their audience as our filmmakers do for us in our time. You ladies will be delighted to know that in many ways I prefer the work of Artemesia Gentileschi over Master Caravaggio. But I think the function of art has changed since those days and modernity demands the artist to reflect the experiences of contemporary life while at the same time learning from and absorbing the art that preceded us but not by excluding the last hundred years.
Every artist is entitled to do whatever interests them and some seem to want create an instant preciousness by emulating the historic masters in some way and that's what I think Kulenovic does. In answer to your question I liked the heads least of all. I did like a couple of the sculptures, the painting of the ox and some of the interesting organic shapes in the figures but all in all, after a while the persistence of her painting technique becomes tedious. Personally I much prefer the paintings of the contemporary artist Karen Kruse whose work I find much more honest and reveals some of its process.
What I find very interesting is why you've heard of this artist who resides in my own city, yet she's completely unknown to me. Please let me know how you happened upon her work.

Aquarium Figures (side C)
Aquarium Figures (side C)
Aquarium Figures (side C)

I tried to envisage two female figures in a box an how they would interface fom all sides.

Aquarium Figures (side D)
Aquarium Figures (side D)
Aquarium Figures (side D)

I tried to envisage two female figures in a box and how they would interface fom all sides.

Aquarium Figures (top)
Aquarium Figures (top)
Aquarium Figures (top)

I tried to envisage two female figures in abox and how they would interface from all sides.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#214
24 Aug 06 22:58

OK you've treated us to the side panels - now show us the box itself. I'm presuming we're talking about a sculptural piece standing there by itself in real space with painted images of how the figures should be visualized within the box itself. Each view showing the inside from that particular angle. That's very tricky work Mr. Kagan. I'm very eager to see how it works in real life, but as the Toronto stop is a little beyond where my local bus route terminates, would you mind taking a shot or two of the box itself (in your studio or wherever) and posting it here? I'm most curious to see the result.
My compliments for your ingenuity - the idea is a sweet one.

Many thanks /j-p.

Aquarium Figures
Aquarium Figures
Aquarium Figures

I tried to envisage two female figures in a box and how they would interface from all sides.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#216
28 Aug 06 22:05

Hillel... Well, full credit to you for being so cool about this work - if I were you I'd be jumping up and down with excitement!

Please say a few words about this - do you see it as an advance forward, or just an interesting experiment?

At any rate, I see it as bursting with sculptural significance, and would dearly like to see you venture more into three dimensions.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#217
29 Aug 06 16:25

J-P, your enthusiasm for this piece surprised me. As I told you I was convalescing and found it difficult to paint standing and I was looking for something I could do while seated.
I had this box from IKEA and kind of visualized two semi-transparent figures within. I wanted to see how they interplayed from all sides but I certainly didn't see it as sculptural project, more like a painting with five sides. When I finished it just seemed to me to be a decorated box. I thought I'd been really stupid and should have done five seperate small canvases based on the same premise because I actually quite liked the sides as individual paintings rather than the whole. But your reaction is causing me to rethink the whole thing. I'd really intended this to be a one-off but now I think I might try doing another. Thanks for your comments.

Study of Wrestlers
Study of Wrestlers
Study of Wrestlers

Directly from the source.

Arcade
Arcade
Arcade

I was a pinball fanatic as a kid. I'd wait for the arcade to open to be the first kid in to see if any drunks left some free games on the machines.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#488
21 Mar 07 19:41

Now you mention it, there is something of the pinball world in some of your work - swirling, pure color, and if the eye is the ball (I know I'm stretching it a bit here), lots of areas to move around about getting hits from the textures, areas of light and dark, a busy concentration of movement that's controlled by you, the player-painter.
You reckon it's a bit corny to use pinball as a metaphor for a painting? Hmm.. I'm sure if you told us a bit about what it was that attracted you to the game, we could delve into topics such as the artist's formative years - influences and discovery. (that could be quite a rich field of enquiry!)
Were you considering being an artist in those arcade years?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#494
22 Mar 07 16:15

A very astute observation Mr. Delaney there is indeed a relationship between the two activities and It's something I've given considerable thought to. As in painting I would have loved to be totally in control of the ball, at least that was my fantasy. As a kid I would constantly have this dream where I had devised a never miss system to beat my machine of choice.
But in actuality, as in painting (at least the kind I'm attracted to) there's luck and skill involved. Most of the time everything conspires against you but once in a while you can do no wrong. I still don't know why that is. When you're in one of those periods of grace which may last a day's work or so you're on top of the world and you think you'll never lose it. You've cracked the the system so to speak and the next day of course it's completely gone. It was all an illusion and you have to work despairingly until your next moment of grace. Of course I'm aware of a multitude of techniques and systems to bring off a painting successfully each and every time but I suppose it comes down to one's nature, a perfect never miss system strikes me as very boring and a bit of a gamble makes it so much more interesting.

Head (self portrait)
Head (self portrait)
Head (self portrait)

From time to time I use myself as a model, afterall I'm cheap and available.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1702
25 Feb 13 12:16

Dear Mr. Kagan, since you are awake now . . . . I wanted to communicate to you that I am your fan, yes yes . . . . . even when you sleep . . . . .
I have been thinking which of your paintings I like most, so that I can say it to the whole world ! I can’t make up my mind. I like them all and each time I look at them I like them differently. In practice to communicate this I have make my choice . . . and here it is. I would like to think this is your expression while reading this comment (suspicious ….)

In Italian I would say “ma quanto sei forte???”

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1703
25 Feb 13 18:07

Nice painting - did I do it?
Kristina, I am your fan as well. (Hint for those of you who haven't done it yet) As you can see, all it takes is a few admiring words and I will become your everlasting fan.
You're a good painter Kristina. However "strength" as you put it comes from construction. Draw an "S" freehand. Now construct an "S" - two interconnected circles, the base circle slightly larger than the upper one. Then draw the S on top of the lines of construction. Now draw the S without drawing the lines of construction underneath but feel them to be there. You will notice that the S drawn with the construction in mind is stronger than the first freehand S you drew.That's my lesson for the day.
"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." Michael Corleone (The Godfather: Part III) Really, I just want to go back to sleep.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1704
28 Feb 13 13:34

Philip K. Dick would say to Michael Corleone:
“There is no route out of the maze. The maze shifts as you move through it, because it is alive. ”

Dear Hilel, I hope this email also finds you awake at least just the time to quickly say thanks for the lesson and to acknowledge this new reciprocal-fan-feeling, I’m sure it will take us somewhere.

As soon as I can I will upload my homework: my first “S”.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1705
28 Feb 13 18:31

First I must congratulate Patricia and Kristina on their success in evoking a response from you. I've been attempting that in vain for the past year. It seems you'll only answer when the ladies are up and about and curious, but sure we won't hold that against you. A second plaudit for Kristina for her choice of painting. This self-portrait is a real cracker, and will be there in testament when we're all long gone. And lastly for her willingness to challenge - I've the impression she's also serious about not letting you idle (the ladies hate it when we're being the lazy bums we are), so I'm paying for a front row seat in this particular contest. Go Kristina!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1706
28 Feb 13 20:32

Jp are you trying to join our fan Club?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1707
01 Mar 13 18:34

Kristina, I'd never even think of intervening between your artistic tête-a-tête, but I'm ever curious to see if you can manage to elicit a response from the man himself. I may be unfortunately mistaken, but I have the idea that you're prepared to stand up to the master, and challenge him directly on his own words. Personally, I'd love to see him take interest in this, and I do so want to witness the outcome. He obviously doesn't realize it, but it has great importance to many of us on this site - he being one of the one of the great protagonists, and the example for us all. Fingers crossed for him to give - yet more - and yet again!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1708
01 Mar 13 20:21

First Patricia, then Kristina, naturally being of a suspicious nature I felt the hidden Machiavellian hand of our fearless leader (he hates when I call him that). Perhaps I was wrong but no matter. When I made my simplistic comment about the "S" I was trying to steer the conversation back to where I think it belongs, the making and constructing of art, the pure discipline of it and away from the usual banal "I love it" comments. I would have thought that there would be an outcry communicating that everyone knows the very basic idea of constructing as easy a form as an S and what an arrogant prick this guy is and who does he think he is with his stupid lessons, et al.

But judging from comments and much of the work I see I think many people believe they can just buy material and push paint around and as luck would have it come up with images that express the depth of their souls.

Screw the souls and forget about feelings, learn to see and to construct and de-struct because that is what art making is all about. It's about taking apart and putting together in 2 dimensional form or sculptural form what is seen. And this is your ammo whether your into representational or abstract art. What makes art important or lasting in the end will be the depth of your soul and the extent of your feeling but it is not something that can be forced, it is either there or not.

So back to the S, as basic a lesson as there can be, but an important one, try it out, many people never have. Feel the difference between constructed form and willy nilly mark making.

I look forward to Kristina's uploads so we can move on to other aspects of art making like avoiding cliche and how cliche is the enemy of art. For instance the cliche of constructing an S with two interlocking circles.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1709
02 Mar 13 06:01

Dear Hilel, unfortunately I am real and our fearless leader didn't really plan this and more than that I don't even think he can control all this at this stage. So the S is really meant to come from somewhere .... Free or constructed deep or superficial or hopefully both.... Who knows.... I guess I now need some time to wake up ....

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1711
03 Mar 13 17:21

I remember constructing S's (and a's, b's and c's) way back in history when lots of art students made money by sign writing names on shopfronts, trucks etc. It was all done freehand with a minimum of measurement. The perfection of computers killed off that industry in an instant. Pity. Nothing like a well crafted hand-painted sign to my mind. I wonder how all those fine art painting students earn a few bob these days? Anyway, never mind that. Kristina has been busy doing her S exercise here [LINK]http://www.artprocess.net/studiologentry?entry_id=1268[/LINK]. I wonder will the maestro return to comment on progress made?
I know it's bad manners to hijack someone else's discussion but I wanted to say that I think I'm doing a type of S too [LINK]http://www.artprocess.net/studiologentry?entry_id=1269[/LINK]. Ok sorry, that's not interesting, and this is Kristina's party after all, I know, I know.
Regarding fearless leaders - unfortunately this site is a bit of a headless monster, and sometimes I wish we did have that leader you mention. He or She might just be able to apply some drive and vision, and have us arrive somewhere a bit more significant than where we are here and now.
The real reason I'm writing this is because of that giveaway sentence of the maestro on cliché in the practice of art making, and how to avoid it. I happen to be very interested in this particular theme, as I see tired cliché in art all around, and would dearly like to avoid it in my own work.
So Kristina - please continue with your S's and move onto the next lessons so I can learn a bit too as you go along.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1712
04 Mar 13 01:01

I really didn't mean this to be some kind of lesson and it was not a criticism of Kristina's work, I believe she thinks it was but that's not the case. She said something about this (my) painting being strong and I was trying to answer her as to why some people find some aspects of my work to be powerful. Nor did I want her to start making S paintings but there are some interesting things that might come out of furthering the discussion. It's not just Kristina's party, It was my idea that everyone should join the discussion and JP's studio log project is certainly relevant. Once again I want people to feel how the constructed S (mentally projected) is stronger, that is all I wanted to get across.

I have seen Kristina's work studio log S painting where she has inadvertently brought up the figure ground problem into her work and therefore pictorial depth which is probably throwing her a bit. And as mentioned above I have taken a look at JP's art log project and will have something to say about both when I can think straight. Mean time I am trying to figure out how to do this on AP and get across what I have mind. So I will get back to you on the studio log pages shortly.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1713
04 Mar 13 09:24

Dear Hillel: lesson or not what you say is true, I simply take it as something real . . . the party is open to everybody of course, let’s hope to get drunk all together. And I wouldn’t mind insisting on the S at this point so I will wait to hear your “powerful something”.

The Painter (after Namuth)
The Painter (after Namuth)
The Painter (after Namuth)

I feel very little kinship with Pollocks art but Namuth's photos of him became the archetypical image of the modern painter of the late 20th century.

Mirror, Bottle, Glass and MacGregor Mugs
Mirror, Bottle, Glass and MacGregor Mugs
Mirror, Bottle, Glass and MacGregor Mugs

In a way also a self-portait because of the mirror, otherwise just another studio still life.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1700
23 Feb 13 21:22

Hi Hillel, long time no hear but many thoughts. I suddenly looked at this painting and thought that reflections on materials really draw your attention, so I fancied you could enjoy looking at murano glass artcrafts...maybe it could inspire you some more work? Lots of love, Patricia

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1701
24 Feb 13 20:00

Patricia, this is what you woke me up for? I was having such a nice dream - everything: people, cars, furniture, trees, plants, grass - all covered and upholstered with lovely black velvet material, so restful to the eyes, black against black, shapes barely discernible like an Ad Reihhardt painting. Only to be roused from my slumber with all these dazzling reflections and gleaming Murano glass. It's all so blinding that my eyes haven't adjusted yet and I'm squinting as I write this.

Nonetheless it's lovely to hear from you and thanks for the attempt to inspire me. Say hi to Christina. Now it's back to bed for me, I sure hope I can conjure up that black velvet dream again.

Seated figure
Seated figure
Seated figure

Isolated figures of that early time frame. It was purely figure and ground then, I couldn't contend with the overall complexity of space and time.

Seated Figure
Seated Figure
Seated Figure

These paintings are now one phase of my process. I was just really learning to paint. It's hard to be objective about one's own work but a lot of people can accommodate these works more readily now than my present work and I end up selling the 20 year old stuff easily which is a shame because I really needed the sales much more desperately back then.

Streetscape With Figures (Aftermath)
Streetscape With Figures (Aftermath)
Streetscape With Figures (Aftermath)

Exactly like the title says.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#772
18 Dec 07 14:34

Trovo i tuoi lavori molto interessanti .Tanto interesse per la violenza e l orrido dietro tanta eleganza pittorica.Mi auguro che conosca un pò di italiano.Buon Natale.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#773
18 Dec 07 14:49

My unlearned translation:
"I find your work very interesting. Notable for it's violence and horror behind the painterly elegance. I hope you understand some Italian. Happy Christmas."

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#777
18 Dec 07 19:15

Thank you Toto for your comments unfortunately I understand no Italian whatsoever so I'm relying on JP's translation for veracity. And it's in his nature as peacemaker and ambassador of good will to have left out any really nasty or insulting bits of information. In any case Happy Christmas to you as well, and to all my Art Process friends.

The Staircase
The Staircase
The Staircase

Also a kind of self portrait. The reclining figure. My wife, I'd recognize the backside anywhere.

Cafeteria
Cafeteria
Cafeteria

Together a lifetime. What's left to say.

Jamming Figures
Jamming Figures
Jamming Figures

Jazz music has been a major part of my life and an inspiration

The Great European Torah Scholar I
The Great European Torah Scholar I
The Great European Torah Scholar I

Jewish tradition as we know it today was formed in Europe. In point of fact without the influence of Europe the Judaism that is practiced would be unknown. This melding of an ancient eastern religious cult with the west, despite the inherent conflicting ideologies and more importantly and more likely because of those conflicts has given birth to a great and vital tradition of tolerance and compassion. A culture of interpretation and differing ideas yet in the main tolerant to differences and contributory to the bettering of the world. For over a thousand years Rabbis, scholars, thinkers and writers from Maimonides and Spinoza to Buber and Kafka and countless others, have benefited European culture even while under duress from their neighbours. It's in the spirit of that contribution that I've created this series of paintings.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#491
10 Apr 07 11:47

The finished Trapani paintings are the product of very solid and thorough work. I think you have utterly mastered your pictorial elements here.

This is not a compliment. It is though, an apology for some doubts I had the impudence to express in the past.

Loved to watch the process.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#527
11 Apr 07 16:23

Maria, there's no need for an apology, you should always call them the the way you see them. In any case I'm deeply gratified that you've changed your mind on this one and thank you for your kind words. By the way I visited your website recently and made some comments there. I'm not sure how it works and wonder if you got them. You don't have to respond here but e-mail me personally to let me know.

The Great European Torah Scholar II
The Great European Torah Scholar II
The Great European Torah Scholar II

Jewish tradition as we know it today was formed in Europe. In point of fact without the influence of Europe the Judaism that is practiced would be unknown. This melding of an ancient eastern religious cult with the west, despite the inherent conflicting ideologies and more importantly and more likely because of those conflicts has given birth to a great and vital tradition of tolerance and compassion. A culture of interpretation and differing ideas yet in the main tolerant to differences and contributory to the bettering of the world. For over a thousand years Rabbis, scholars, thinkers and writers from Maimonides and Spinoza to Buber and Kafka and countless others, have benefited European culture even while under duress from their neighbours. It's in the spirit of that contribution that I've created this series of paintings.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#511
26 Mar 07 21:42

I am familiar with Hillel Kagan's work and I think he is one of the great artists of his time, which is this time.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#512
26 Mar 07 22:42

Hey this is an artist to artist site so who let you in? I agree somewhat with your comment although it's not bombastic enough for my liking. You should know that actors don't cut it here.
Isn't there someone in control on this site? Now it's actors, next will be jugglers and strippers (performance artists?). Don't you have to upload some art images or something to join in the dialogue?
One more thing Cayle, quit stalking me.

The Great European Torah Scholar III
The Great European Torah Scholar III
The Great European Torah Scholar III

Jewish tradition as we know it today was formed in Europe. In point of fact without the influence of Europe the Judaism that is practiced would be unknown. This melding of an ancient eastern religious cult with the west, despite the inherent conflicting ideologies and more importantly and more likely because of those conflicts has given birth to a great and vital tradition of tolerance and compassion. A culture of interpretation and differing ideas yet in the main tolerant to differences and contributory to the bettering of the world. For over a thousand years Rabbis, scholars, thinkers and writers from Maimonides and Spinoza to Buber and Kafka and countless others, have benefited European culture even while under duress from their neighbours. It's in the spirit of that contribution that I've created this series of paintings.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#518
08 Apr 07 15:03

Hillel - as a new member to Art Process, your work is one of the reasons I joined.I find your work lively, expressive, and full of passion. I find faces of interest as well, and I'm especially found of your new work for Trapani 2007.

The Great European Torah Scholar IV
The Great European Torah Scholar IV
The Great European Torah Scholar IV

Jewish tradition as we know it today was formed in Europe. In point of fact without the influence of Europe the Judaism that is practiced would be unknown. This melding of an ancient eastern religious cult with the west, despite the inherent conflicting ideologies and more importantly and more likely because of those conflicts has given birth to a great and vital tradition of tolerance and compassion. A culture of interpretation and differing ideas yet in the main tolerant to differences and contributory to the bettering of the world. For over a thousand years Rabbis, scholars, thinkers and writers from Maimonides and Spinoza to Buber and Kafka and countless others, have benefited European culture even while under duress from their neighbours. It's in the spirit of that contribution that I've created this series of paintings.

Figures in a Box (top view)
Figures in a Box (top view)
Figures in a Box (top view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1219
04 Nov 11 21:38

Figures? c'mon that's about as far from figurative as a mid-career Kandinsky. My 3-year old niece could do better.
Admit it man, you've sullied your lifelong oeuvre with this ABSTRACT!!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1562
05 Nov 11 23:15

Hey man I'm a Jew! Do you really think that after a lifetime of being baited by some of the best and most cunning, I would fall for a lure as cheap as the one you've offered here? Did You really think that I would naively bite and we would all "INCREDIBLY" start playing again? DO I REALLY APPEAR TO BE THAT STUPID AND SIMPLEMINDED?

So thanks for your comment. Yes, I do see your point, this one certainly does appear to be rather abstract. In my defense, I must say that I've never described myself as a painter of surface reality, photographic or otherwise. Generally I call myself a figurative (or figural) artist. The figurative aspect seems to be necessary to sustain my interest. However I do agree that in all likelihood your three year old niece COULD do better.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1564
06 Nov 11 23:08

Kagan, the problem is you're just too damn smart. I knew you wouldn't fall for it, but couldn't resist the temptation to try rattle that cage of yours. You know I think the the figurative/non-figurative divide a load of baloney, and that everything is basically figurative - even a white-on-white.
The non-existant 3 year-old I threw in for good measure - I get that told to me all the time. The whole point of my little interjection is to say I like this painting and hope to see it in real life one day. So says an Irish Paddy.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1565
07 Nov 11 05:55

yawn

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1566
07 Nov 11 22:34

OK Mr. Kagan I do understand your boredom with the same old - same old repetition and re-hash of tired phrases on artprocess. But now I need some advice - do we just quit the failed project, or argue out some possible ways of getting beyond the current artist-to-artist navel gazing?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1567
07 Nov 11 22:46

Oops! I had attributed that yawn to you Mr.K! Funny - I didn't see it was Denis who was falling asleep with procedings. I hope you'll accept my apologies, and reply instead as if it really was your expression of irritated boredom with this website and it's inability to get beyond the present longstanding stasis.
Denis too of course - if he's so inclined.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1569
08 Nov 11 01:11

There was never anything wrong with the AP concept other than there being very few artists willing to engage and say anything. Denis's "yawn" is hardly a comment, I suspect it was meant to communicate something other than his boredom with the present long standing stasis and had more to do with his opinion of the two loser and failed artist interlocutors in this particular dialogue.
Actually this site spawned more genuine artist to artist communication than I've seen anywhere else but four or five people will inevitably start repeating themselves. If Denis (and others) can muster more than a yawn and actually express themselves this site has a chance of a rebirth. The narcissistic nature of artists who upload a few images and expect people to fall all over themselves expressing love and admiration for their hitherto unnoticed genius makes that prospect highly unlikely.
As you're well aware JP, you've always had a great deal more confidence in the well intentioned, eager to learn and exchange, democratic nature of your fellow artists than cynical old me.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1570
08 Nov 11 08:42

Thanks for your comment JP, I have been working for some time in the water images, although I didn’t upload them here, I will .
This time I'll just write under Hillel’s painting to continue a little with your conversation. I also thought that the "yawn" comment was one of Mr.Kagan's ironic things, but to my surprise it was from Denis. As Hillel says, this is the real problem of this web , too many in it, and very few that really invest some time in adding a comment to someone’s else’s painting. (can “Yawn” be considered a comment?...maybe so) . I have the feeling that the 5 or 6 persons that usually write will continue doing so if someone brings up a theme, but no one else, and it’s a pity because there have been some good arguments here. Interesting some times and fun others, what to do to make people intervene? Choose the painting of the month and talk about it? Or vote the ten best paintings and only show those for one week? I have no idea, but I do like this web, and I don’t want it dead.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1571
08 Nov 11 15:49

It's a great personal insult that either of you, after all these years, might have thought, no matter how briefly, that I could possibly have been the author of a mean spirited, banal and ill humoured "yawn". But for old time's sake and because I'm such a good shit, I forgive you!
I do like both of Karen's ideas especially the painting of the month. Either would be bound to stir up some conversation. How to do it? Very undemocratically JP, just do it. You should pick first to get the process going. Afterwards appoint a judge or judges either democratically or by fiat to spread out the chore of selection.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1574
11 Nov 11 23:07

So Denis' yawn turned out to be useful. It got me to add our photo mugshots to comments so my mistake won't be so easily repeated in the future. Adds a bit of color too to that drab gray.
I'm a little disappointed it wasn't really Kagan's irritation with the boring proceedings, as I'm sure something interesting would have come out in the ensuing arguments.
Anyway, Karen's suggestion has given me an idea to start working on. It's a bit complicated to do and will take a bit of time.. please bear with me on that. Nevertheless, in my opinion, if you really want more people to get involved, you'll have to work at posting relevant comments to their images and hopefully you'll provoke better than a yawning response!
Also try to write a little more on your OWN works. Give us some background details about what's happening in your life, what frustrations as an artist you're experiencing, what kind of reaction to your work you get, and how it differs from what you'd wish for. Etc., etc.
As we all face similar issues, you're bound to receive replies from fellow artists. In the end, it's really the human story that gets people's interest, and motivates them to get add a comment.
So, senior members of ap - if you don't feel like commenting much on what you see on the site, do at least beef up what you write about your own artworks please! That will already be a good start.

Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)

Imagining two figures
from different angles
contained in a cube.

Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1220
27 Sep 08 09:52

In your "intimate moments" studio log, you mention we may have a similar palette. This surprises me as I've always viewed yours as being far more varied than my own basic red-before-blue breaking of Arnold's Law ...[Arnold's First Law of Colorifics - now there's a catchy phrase.] There is some connection in the fact that I buy the low-quality oils though (nevertheless they're still not so cheap).
It struck me most when I saw your works for real (the rabbi paintings). The delicate curling laying down of surprising colour had me greedily looking on.

Anyway, back to that wall of paintings. Man, you sure make a mess. What is all colour that doing on the wall? Aren't you happy enough with a whole bunch of canvases going at the same time without having to move out onto the wall too? Don't you have a sense of bounds?
It's beautiful though.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1221
27 Sep 08 14:07

Hillel, I would really like to see these small studies better, would it be possible to put them in your studio log one by one?? a fast small sketch is usually much more revealing and interesting than what we think. Yours, your drawings too, have a simple, straight-forward, energetic thrust that has the idea and the movement condensed in it, the bare essentials, this is difficult to achieve. Making things complicated is easy what is really difficult is expressing as much with a simple approach. please??

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1223
28 Sep 08 00:52

Yeah, I noticed the similarity when I posted that studio log image of my failed canvas. Colour's not a major concern of mine, I'm not enough of a sensualist to really consider myself to be a colourist or even a painter for that matter. I'm much more interested in construction, exploration and drawing. My approach to colour is fairly arbitrary and I suspect you're fairly similar in that regard.
In regard to my painting wall, I was just to lazy to take individual pictures of all those little studies (I just wanted you to have a notion of what I was up to and how I work) but seeing as Karen requested it I have no option but to comply and will post the results as soon as possible in my studio log.

Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#679
30 Oct 07 18:29

It was just when viewing this in smaller scale (the version in your portfolio) that it clicked. The perception of distance in the reduced image reveals the harmony and grace of the figures.
Kagan, you're a tricky devil.

Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)
Figures In a Box (side view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Figures In a Box (3/4 view)
Figures In a Box (3/4 view)
Figures In a Box (3/4 view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Figures In a Box (exploded view)
Figures In a Box (exploded view)
Figures In a Box (exploded view)

Imagining two figures from different angles contained in a cube.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#681
30 Oct 07 20:20

Now that you've exhibited your stuff right smack in a baroque cathoic church (at Trapani), I see you've even taken to the symbolism with this latter-day rendition of figures in a cruciform.
I suppose next you'll be expecting nomination for the Archbishopric of art process!

Seriously I love to watch your exploration of figurative abstraction, (as you call it).
Nevertheless I'd prefer an 'X' format here as opposed to the weight of the possible religious reference.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#683
30 Oct 07 21:59

That's very funny, thanks for your comments. The exploded view of the box just happens to turn into a cruciform. I can assure you there was no personal or religious intent.
More importantly it's nice to feel your presence once again on this site. It's been missed, welcome back.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#684
31 Oct 07 05:55

Well in a way I wasn't joking. Take a look at the painting again - doesn't it look like a baroque ceiling - all airiness and light? Here's a random URL as an example: [LINK].
Anyone in agreement?

Then I'm thinking, man - this guy gets compared to half the history book! Bacon, Hopper, Tiepolo... you name it. What's the story Kagan?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#685
31 Oct 07 12:46

I agree with J.P. I have been working in a Catholic Church, restoring a Luca Giordano ceiling, and your painting was something of a flashback to that baroque movement and light, and forced diagonals. Although to me as I told you somewhere it looks like a fabulous struggle, it has something brutal in it on the verge of metamorphosing into something unknown. Unknown for us, but very clear and intimate for you. Very up-to-date in its internal violence.
Glad to hear from you too, J.Paul.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#686
31 Oct 07 13:53

Well you've caught me red handed. I've been working my way through the Encyclopedia of Art absorbing and stealing everything I see with the ambition of combining all those thousands and thousands of different ways of seeing and painting to make one, unified, gigantic mess.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#687
31 Oct 07 14:58

...hmm maybe you merit that Archbishop position after all.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#688
01 Nov 07 01:20

Woh, woh, wait a second here! I just checked this web address you gave J.P and what did I find? This guy wearing his piece of drape, (is it?) way too high for not showing anything underneath... Well, he seems more like a half way Dionisos' figure to me. And I trust you are all aware of Dionisos' habits. An Archbishop should at least blush at such a sight!
Ah, those double cross renaisanse artists...

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#690
01 Nov 07 07:30

Well, the Archbishop did say he wanted to absorb 'different ways of seeing'. I suppose that would also include a Dionysian view of things?
Regarding the element you've noted as missing, I suggest that it has ..er.. moved, in response to the friendly attentions of those two kind ladies?

Climactic Moment
Climactic Moment
Climactic Moment

First of a series.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#872
23 Feb 08 20:00

I just spoted this one. You are finally working again! Well done my friend, well done.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#891
03 Mar 08 20:41

Now, seriously, this must be a good painting; it makes me hot!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#892
03 Mar 08 22:34

Maria, hold on to that thought, I just have to pack a bag and I'm on my way to the airport. Seriously though, thanks for the nice comments and if you're being truthful about the "hot" thing then I'm very pleased because that's the idea. Either I'm getting really old and trying to stir up old memories or I really did overdose on those Rabbi heads.

Ennui
Ennui
Ennui

Working on smallish canvases while I warm to my theme.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#943
17 Mar 08 21:03

Your style of painting works really well for the subject matter. I really like the vacant look on the woman's face, it is like the piece tells a story. In fact I would have made her face the center of the piece, but I am alway conscious of the very center of a piece. For me, as with other people I'm sure the eye tends to catch at the center of the piece and it may be easy to overlook the more profound ideas that these figures represent. Many compliments on the refining of your technique. I love the overlapping swirls and detail. It makes for a really rich piece.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#947
18 Mar 08 00:41

Thanks Abby, I appreciate your comments.

Spent Figures
Spent Figures
Spent Figures

Beginning to get things together.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1179
03 Sep 08 04:53

Now you're starting to get somewhere, Kagan!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1181
03 Sep 08 17:30

Thanks Arnold and just in the nick of time... cough.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1182
04 Sep 08 03:18

Seriously, Kagan, think of yerself as being in...mid-career...there's plenty of time for you to become a competent colorist!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1191
19 Sep 08 02:53

there you go again...putting yer reds in front of yer blues..and the lamp, I don't care about the lamp, i want more of what's dead center!
Looking back 30 years i see how long i rassled with the problem of foreground and background resolution. I will upload a couple of pieces to my portfolio to illustrate. I have looked at your portfolio long and hard, and let me presume to say you are closer than ever to becoming the painter you want to be! This piece, very recent, is very engaging, challenging,,but painful, i grind my teeth, it comes up short...why?i want more! I need to see what it would be, breaking through all the way to the edges! Opened right up, smashing thru!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1192
21 Sep 08 01:31

Thanks for your interest in my work and dilemma Arnold, I'm in fairly total agreement with what you've said, except for your grinding of the teeth and hatred for the lamp (very subjective, I love the lamp, it resolved the whole painting for me.) Also I happen to think that some conflict is beneficial to the sustainability of visual interest. Still I'm as interested as yourself in seeing where my quest might take me and look forward to viewing your latest uploads for inspiration. Just one other question, I guess I just wasn't properly educated as a colourist but is there really a rule against putting reds before blues?

My Mishpocha
My Mishpocha
My Mishpocha,

A continuation of my exploration of deep space and using everyday motifs from my own life. The play of mirrored image and reality is one that has always fascinated me. Here I set up a vast mirror in my smallish studio, consequently I am shown at work with my sitters, my wife and her girlfriend, as well as our two grand children and our puppy Benny. Shown in the smaller mirror at the far end is my son and daughter-in-law. The little person is our neighbour and good friend Helen and the man in the doorway is Mike our mailman. I persuaded him to stay for a few minutes while I caught his likeness, sometimes things just happen and for me Mike's appearance just made this particular painting special. Although I'm not entirely happy with this one (I find it a bit tight) I do think it has some merit.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1082
06 Jun 08 08:34

I distinctly recall telling you that traditional perspective is out of date. Haven’t I taught you anything? And take a brake with that egocentric attitude of yours. Try some mythological subject, or something even humbler, like the little people whom your daughter in law laughs at.
And do open those studio windows or I’ll get Picasso to do it for you!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1083
06 Jun 08 15:28

Thanks Maria, you hit the nail right on the head about the whole perspective thing, I just don't seem able to free myself of my classical training. It's very frustrating, try as I may, I always seem to go back to it in my vain attempts to resolve a painting. It tears me apart and I have persistent suicidal thoughts. By the way I wasn't aware that you knew Pablo personally. If you could talk to him and possibly obtain his assistance for me I'd be greatly appreciative.

Museum Figures
Museum Figures
Museum Figures

When I used to be able to paint... I'm uploading this one for Patrick.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1193
21 Sep 08 19:01

sometime ago you wondered about what makes artistsand I had told you my story.Recently I made a small film about it,if you like to see it you can take a look at untold stories.eu .

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1194
21 Sep 08 19:56

Fotini, I really want to thank you for that, it's truly a memorable little video that says much about you and your personal art and life journey. The bonus for me was actually hearing you speak, your voice is as lovely as your art. I advise everyone to take a couple of minutes to view it.

[LINK]http://untoldstories.eu/eng/content/view/video/411[/LINK]

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1200
22 Sep 08 17:32

Hillel, thanks for letting us participate. Having just been in Greece for 10 days everything from there now has my special interest. And thanks Fotini (the name is stressed on it's last i as I just learned from Maria) for for giving this link to Hillel.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1159
24 Sep 08 16:35

The exhibition is finished, I packed Karen's paintings today to send them back to their mama, and as this is my last week with no lessons on Wednesday, I finaly made time to see what has been going on here in ArtProcess while Hnjo, Karen and I have been having fun here. Fotini's video is the first thing I saw. It is beautyful! Thanks Fotini.

Messy Bed
Messy Bed
Messy Bed

A continuation of the series of paintings I've called

Study I
Study I
Study I

A study for series of paintings entitled

1 Figure & 1/8
1 Figure & 1/8
1 Figure & 1/8

A study for series of paintings entitled

Study III
Study III
Study III

A study for series of paintings entitled

2 Figures & 1/4
2 Figures & 1/4
2 Figures & 1/4

A study for series of paintings entitled

2 Figures & 1/3
2 Figures & 1/3
2 Figures & 1/3

A study for series of paintings entitled

untitled
untitled
untitled

sketchbook

untitled
untitled
untitled

sketchbook

untitled
untitled
untitled

sketchbook

Interlude
Interlude
Interlude

Intimate moment series.

Young Family II
Young Family II
Young Family II

?

Languor
Languor
Languor

Intimate Moment Series

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1517
13 Sep 10 20:25

Instead "searing" is a word that comes to mind with this work - it might even represent the opposite of it's languid title. Although magnificently rich in colour, and heavy with form, there seems to be a struggle going on here that would remotely suggest a Goya or Bacon to me, only different.
Retaining a "humanness", it barely scrapes through as a figurative piece. That sure is a curious path you're treading there Kagan. Now push on some more.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1907
01 Mar 18 02:02

Your work is very accomplished. In it I was reminded of Giacometti, Caravaggio, Edward Hopper, David Hockney and a lot by Francis Bacon.
I’m impressed, well done.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1908
06 Mar 18 20:15

Haven't you noticed the tumbleweed blowing in the dry dust, the silence, and that there simply is no-one, David? The artists left here years ago. ArtProcess is long-deserted, and been abandoned to it's assured fate of slow demise and of one day disappearing altogether. Haha...! Sounds like a bad Western.

Anyway, well done - you did pick one of the best of the lot to comment on, to my mind. I even had the honour of meeting Hillel once - and he is a true artist. Got to see some of his work in real life too - beautiful, (and surprisingly) delicate painting. The photos unfortunately lack the intimacy of the colours, and how they are applied.
Reading some of what he's written on AP, you may get to appreciate a person with an enjoyably cynical sense of humour, replete with humane insight.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1909
07 Mar 18 00:38

Ha ha , you could call the site "The Dead Artists society". Why did it die, reading the comments and following the links was so interesting.
Here's another parody name "The silence of the Artists"!

Your right this mans work is really good. Have you any idea where all these artists are now? I went to a couple of their websites. By the way where are you now, I sent you an email, drop me a line, I have a few ideas id like to chat with you about.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1910
07 Mar 18 23:19

Well the artists themselves are very much alive (and concentrating on what they do) I hope.
However, why this attempt at forming a little "society" died - I'm not quite sure. I suspect it may have begun with an offline meeting and group exhibition I co-organized in 2007. It turned out that I'm pretty useless at organization, and the event was a bit of a disaster. After voicing their anger with me (you'll find some of that in the forum), the artists probably figured that there wasn't much to be gained by participating anymore, and moved off to better sites.

Objectively looking at the AP project in general, it sure was one monumental waste of time - individually, from all the work I put into it, and collectively on the part of the artists who uploaded their work and their comments.

Still, as I write this comment, and look at the image of Hillel's painting, I'm glad I had a little part in bringing attention to his, and to his fellow artist's work.

What the hell, it's just another entry in that ever-lengthening list of my failures, eh? You gotta laugh...

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1911
08 Mar 18 02:14

LOL Paul, you remind me of Frank Spencer in "Some mothers do have em" where he declares that he is a "Failure", you can see it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdkagGGyiQA
Its hilarious!
You are so hard on yourself. Its a pity your forum here died , I suspect that most artists in the end want to be personally successful and that's why they have personal websites. Also it was probably unclear what you wanted to get from the project. You need to be rewarded for your efforts everyone does and in the end that's what keeps the momentum going.
Artists talking to each other is interesting enough but in the end artists want to sell their work to collectors who will make them some money and enhance their reputation.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1912
08 Mar 18 21:25

Thanks David for your comment and associating my work with the artists you mentioned starting with Gicometti, quite right. However when I saw your post a few days ago and also the image of my painting (yikes!!) instead of replying right away I set about trying to get a better photo taken, at least one that slightly approximates the actual painting. Either I was drunk or most likely it was the best I could do at time when I uploaded the image originally, probably both of those things. No wonder JP used the word "searing" above. My daughter paid paid me a visit and she took a better photo with her iphone than I ever could (it's now uploaded).

JP's wrong (Hi, old friend thanks for the cal. I hope you got my email) not only in his estimation of my talents but his assessment of the current state of AP. It was always a valient effort on his part. A waste of time, no doubt but what isn't? I doubt that the Trapani exhibition had much of an affect one way or the other. In my opinion AP was a site where artists in theory could have dialogue with other artists. The problem was, and you hit on it David, artists just want to show and sell their work. For that there are much better sites. Still the idea of artists talking to artists still intrigues me. I don't just mean commenting on each others work - that becomes boring quickly and few have the audacity to truly give an honest opinion. But the broader idea of artists talking about all manner of things still seems to me to be worthwhile. For me it's the hidden forum section that should be upfront. Artists could still have their bios and portfolios for reference and images could rotate. Of course another part of me is sceptical that artists will talk at all without sufficient lubrication.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1913
09 Mar 18 00:30

Very nice to meet you Hillel.
Much of what you say resonates for me. I think Paul will attest to this because it’s how we both first met in the eighties. We were recommended to each other by an artist called Martin Folan who just loved to chat about art, life and everything in between for hours and hours. Sadly, he passed away.
I recall many wonderful evenings in his studio in Dublin where he made cups of instant coffee and smoked strong cigarettes late into night while venting his opinions as they formulated within him in real time. He constantly had an entourage of admirers who would call on him day and night. All were welcome at any time it seemed.
Martin provided a facility (namely his good self and his fascinating studio) I think, for many otherwise isolated young artists who yearned for appropriate stimulation and simple encouragement which he provided in copious amounts. Personally I loved listening to his eccentric ideas which ranged from organizing funerals for sparrows to impromptu traffic blocking parades through the city center. He was both contentious and flamboyant in the most charming manner.
He introduced Paul and me to each other around 1984 and we have been friends ever since. I sometimes think he introduced us to each other to relieve the burden on him of too many visits to his studio. At the time my studio was about ten minutes away so he sent Paul around to say hi one day. Later I used to visit Paul’s studio which was an empty medical clinic I think and an amazing place to explore. Paul’s last Dublin exhibition was held. It was mesmeric because he painted everything in the studio white, a kind of cleansing of his psychic before he embarked on his next adventure in Italy.
Throughout the ensuing decades Paul and I have kept in touch all be it intermittently at times but it’s been my experience that the best long term friendships are like that, they flip by like chapters in a book, no matter what happens you know the plot demands one more episode at least.
Perhaps this is the case with Artprocess, it slumbers and then like the dragon it awakens again.
So I agree with you Hillel, discussion is fascinating and entertaining. Interviewing people is interesting, I mentioned that to Paul a while back to perhaps have a section where he or we could interview various artists. Personally I like reading that kind of think, I’m a great talk show fan………lol!
Anyway its very nice to meet you here Hillel and hopefully this is the start of another great plot twist in all our lives.


Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1914
09 Mar 18 09:39

Crikey Hillel! That new photo of your painting is completely different... you should have that clever daughter of yours visit more often.

OK now I really get the title. Those bodies are so deliciously slumped and weighing into the bedclothes. It's quite clear that they were good days (and nights) indeed. Interesting how you used a simple change of tone to pull the background away in the distance like that, and the easy working of the blues allow the rumbustious swirl of the figures settle so well. Yep, in my book, that's an inspiring work Mr.K. And on a square format too.


I then wandered off to look at your other works and found this Studio Log [LINK]. It sort of embodies the original aspirations I had for ArtProcess: An artist-led presentation of her/his process, views of the studio, and interaction with visitors. In fact, just like a real studio visit, but without the bad coffee.

Gentlemen, yes I did gladly receive your emails, and many thanks. I've been in a bit of a isolation funk this past year or so. I apologize for my laziness, and I fully intend to reply. Your continued patience with me is most appreciated!

Considering David's and Hillel's ideas of what might have been useful about AP, I imagine that artists actually working on shared themes/projects together might also produce some interesting and surprising outcomes. I'd love to try that kind of direction. Given the right spirit, it could be a lot of fun, and would make good copy for the readers.

Not sure if there's any collective willingness anymore to breathe a bit of life back into the site, but in theory I'm now available to redevelop it into something a bit more modern, if you're game. I just need ideas, willingness to test, and I really require lots of bitching like "WTF,isn't it ready yet???". Actually, following on David's mentioning of an Artist Interview section, that was an idea originally suggested by Hillel many years ago. I even remember working on the database design for it but somehow the concept never got completed (my fault again).

Regarding the sales thing. I'd always avoided that particular can of worms but now I'm facing into needing to start making some money again myself, so perhaps we can even make some explorations in that direction? Selling works the quality of this particular painting can't be that difficult surely? The really hard part is building the correct collective context that will attract art buyers to the site in the first place.

The question is, do we really have the wherewithal to get up, dust ourselves off and try again??? Yikes.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1915
10 Mar 18 01:49

David, any friend of Delaney is a friend of mine and Paul for that matter so It's nice meeting you as well. I knew most of those things about JP because I interviewed him for the first ever AP Artist to Artist interview complete with links to images of works and historical photos of completely painted white studios; furniture, ashtrays, cigarettes butts, ashes and all. After all that work JP never got around to publishing it, the real reason being that he was most uncomfortable about being seen as self important, modest chap that he is. Of course that was the whole point of the interview thing. Why should we obscure artists not celebrate our own interests, obsessions and relevance seeing as no one will ever do so? I did not know the name of your common friend and inspiration, now deceased but I see that I can get the book on Amazon. I'm considering downloading it even though the price is a bit steep.


JP, I am old and feeble nowadays and I don't know if I have the energy and time any longer to contribute much in the way of content. For instance today was bathing, grooming and toenail clipping day and when I say day I mean it literally takes the whole day and I'm totally exhausted but I am mulling it over and you know where to find me. By the way I'm in no way suggesting AP should have anything to do with sales. In my opinion if this site is to go on it has to be about artists talking to artists just as it is now only perhaps in a broader sense than just visual artists' concerns and comments. Perhaps extending to artists of other disciplines in more of a free wheeling conversation. I have no idea what the interface should look like or how it could possibly create enough interest and traffic to monetize it even modestly but somehow I thinks it's close right now, just a bit of tweaking needed here and there, easy-peasy, simple as pie.


Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1916
10 Mar 18 12:38

Happily visual artists tend to live to ripe old ages, so get used to plenty more years yet Mr. Kagan. I'm thinking of sending a young Catholic nun over to hold the paintbrush in your hand (yes, I said paintbrush) just like Matisse had the the good sense to do. That should pep you up a bit, though I'm not sure your dear wife, Donna, would be too amused.

Your so democratic opening up of AP to other disciplines has me raise an eyebrow - I seem to recall somewhere you bitching about anyone being able to call themselves artists these days - even strippers! Haha... However, I agree that it's a good idea, and had been thinking that if there is to be a next AP version, we'll have articles (as opposed to images of artworks) as the central unit on the site. In that way it can be used in a more journalistic manner. How we'll get the message across to other disciplines I'm not entirely sure though. Anyway, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I've decided to take up that Artist-to-Artist Interview (AAI - bit like Alcoholics Anonymous International - dragging confessions out of us) feature you two have been banging on about. I have to wind up some little thing I'm currently working on and should be ready to start by the end of the month (if you're in agreement).
If so, I'll be contacting you both behind the scenes in April for 'Use Cases', and eventual verification and testing before publication. Then you'll be free to interview all you like - might even be able to drag ol' Hanjo, Maria, and Karen back to these parts?? It'll be a nice small project that shouldn't take too long. And don't worry, I won't be asking you to do much - just an odd line of reaction now and then will be more than enough.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1917
12 Mar 18 07:09

Hillel,
I extend a hearty handshake to you and long may it last.
I for one would love to read the interview you did with Paul. Even if one knows the main details of someone’s history, listening to other people’s perspectives by way of questions and interactions is really interesting and entertaining. That’s why talk shows where the host interviews the guest are so fundamentally fascinating.
The same goes for biographies. I think the real interest in both is the notion that the audience might see something of themselves in the subject or if not may see something worth emulating. It’s a learning curve in how to be a better person I guess. Its also a way of seeing the pitfalls that may occur and hopefully by learning from it one doesn’t have to endure the actual consequences for themselves. Anyway for a myriad of reasons interviews are worthwhile.
About monetizing the site, I tend to agree with you too Hillel. I suppose one could consider the site having a shop where works or high quality prints of works could be sold. The artists could get their cut and the site administrator could deservedly get a fair commission.
Interesting content by way of articles, podcasts and interviews could be added regularly and thus subscribers to the site could be given the opportunity to leave donations of any amount via PayPal, or Patreon. I think we would need to try and attract non artists who are interested in eavesdropping on the conversations/antics of artists and might be inclined to leave a donation every now and then and maybe buy a work or two into the bargain. My instincts say that the real income would come from people who like to read great articles and listen to fascinating interviews.
Later in the shop you could sell mugs and T-Shirts with Art Process logo emblazoned on them. Don’t laugh, some people might be proud to visibly associate themselves with such an innovative site that is more art for art’s sake than art for sale sake. Also just a thought, video content of art process might be welcome every now and then too.
Paul I’m in the same position as you desperately trying to figure out how to make some extra cash mainly to be able to give my lovely little daughter all the opportunities she deserves. I have been looking at many ways of making money on the internet from affiliate advertising to artists selling prints of their work on their websites. It’s not easy and every option seems to demand a lot of time (especially) and effort. The best option I can see is simply having a mega interesting site that has rich content that people appreciate and that some viewers are willing to sponsor out of the gratitude of their hearts because they don’t want to see the site die for totally selfish reasons.
Like you Hillel, I am almost 60 and haven’t much time to waste but with the right idea I can certainly drum up the enthusiasm required to make it work. So Paul as I have said before I am on board, if I can just figure out the right path to follow.
One final variation of the interview idea Paul is the podcast discussion where two or more individuals discuss pertinent ideas in an accessible way that is both informative and entertaining. That is the kind of valuable content that audiences would appreciate and come back for more.
Those are my initial thoughts on the matter. What do you think gentlemen?
David

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1918
12 Mar 18 10:13

Don't mind him David, he's only winding you up - that interview doesn't exist really (except maybe in his head, or have I just blanked it out?).

Something just occurred to me... perhaps if the reason I didn't put together an interview "container" on the site was to avoid it... then what do you think gentlemen, instead of an interview, we had a Conversation? A sort of two-way interview? An interesting question bubbles up in the discourse and each one gets to give his or her answer, in such a way that the role of host and guest are interchangeable?

By the way Hillel, do you still have that painting? Has it ever been exhibited?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1920
13 Mar 18 00:36

The interview was completed in 2009. The proof is in your mail boxes and I still have this painting.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1921
13 Mar 18 05:16


Now I don’t know who to believe you Paul who says no interview took place or you Hillel who send me an alleged copy of the interview? We if it’s a fabricated interview it’s a pretty damn convincing one.
What I enjoy about personal interviews the most is the “human interest” that is the story about the human experience in all its facets from chronological dictation of events to the emotional consequents of those experiences. In that sense, Paul this is the part of your story that interests me most;
“Soon I ended up broke, and sleeping in the streets of Rome. One idea was pretty clear, there was no point in going back. I did want to leave but felt I had to wait around a little bit longer. After all, I was drawing in Rome,
and that did have its appeal.
I then met ……………………………………………………………I still want to leave.”
I want to read more! Don’t get me wrong, the entire story is rich and fascinating, a wonderful episodic narrative. I want more, your life is a real page turner. Now if I were a punter I would definitely be back to artprocess to read more of this kind of material.
Very good interview Hillel, interesting and astute questions, well done. Who will interview you in turn I wonder?
Paul your idea of a two-way conversation is good but personally I prefer the old fashioned interviewer/interviewee coupling, as it keeps the focus clear so the narrative can be expressed with the right rhythm. Besides insights into the interviewer’s character can easily be gleaned from their style of questioning. A two-way conversation is already embodied in the dialogue.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1922
13 Mar 18 05:27

Paul, just another thought. The two-way conversation could be another subsection on the site under podcasts where you have titles like “JP Delaney and Hillel discuss Futurism, Cubism and the impact of Post-Modernist thinking on a lonely dishwasher”.
But seriously you could set up semi-formal discussions on a myriad of pertinent and contentious issues of contemporary interest to an artprocess audience. Maybe something like “In the era of Fake News what about Fake Art or artists?”
I liked and found interesting Hillel’s indignation that a self-styled Sunday painter can count himself as a real artist’s peer.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1924
13 Mar 18 10:04

Oh cripes! Where did that come from???
First of all, please accept my most profuse apologies Hillel, I should have known better than to think you were just joking, I really didn't think such a thing existed.
Secondly, I'm surprised by how much I blathered on - it goes to show how much I intrinsically trust you - not even my wife knows all of that (not that she'd be much interested anyway haha).
Strange that I can't recall working on it with you. If you do ever decide to drop the painting [not advisable btw], you've a bright future in journalism with an obvious talent at getting one to divulge... and to not remember afterwards!!

As soon the new interview section is ready, I hope you'll allow me to reverse the roles.

Also for many years, I've considered the idea that maybe one day I'll try to sell selected artist's works on the internet, and I think that now is the time to attempt that. After the interview stuff is done, I want to do a separate artprocess.com site (this one will remain artprocess.net). Will you let me try to publish and sell your work there?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1925
14 Mar 18 20:31

I'm not sure I know what you have in mind but I'm open to new new experiences.
You know there are sites like Saatchi that have been honing the whole selling of art thing for a number of years now. They are selling some works though not all that many for the number of works for sale. The reason being that selling art is just about as hard as making it. As for me we can follow up off-line.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1926
15 Mar 18 00:16

Please, please, please make me one of the selected artists that you want to sell, I need the pocket money :)
On a more serious note I think it would do no harm to put a donate button on artprocess. I noticed this morning while reading about the demise of Stephen Hawking that even The Guardian Newspaper online has a donate button!

Young Family I
Young Family I
Young Family I

Portrait

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1518
15 Sep 10 05:43

I'm reckoning you've posted this as a slap on the wrist for my proposing the last painting you submitted ([LINK]) could just barely have been termed figurative. Here we're bang into classic portraiture - was it a commission? Almost a metre each side, they're quite serious dimensions. Also the format is square - I've noticed that predilection in your previous work. Personally I find working a square very difficult (not sure why). However it seems to add an immediacy to your own work, as in this case.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1519
15 Sep 10 08:14

I have the same problem with squared proportions, and I don’t know why either!, I found the first version of this “young family” more disturbing. But maybe it wasn’t your intention to give “the king of the family” such a mean gaze…
Anyway I'm glad to see there's still some life here!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1520
15 Sep 10 16:34

Hi JP and Karen. Yes this was a commissioned portrait so I did feel some pressure to come up with three likenesses therefore the slightly more classical nature of this one. I'm not really all that interested in portraiture unless I can turn out a satisfactory painting. This one is adequate, the other version is for myself probably because I find it more disturbing.
"Languor" [LINK] is where the work has been heading and today I posted "Crazy Dancing" [LINK] the last one I did before being interrupted by the portraits
My predilection for square or squarish formats probably stems from my main enterprise which is to reflect the world the way I see it. The square or circle approximately encompasses our entire range of vision, peripherally and all and I'm therefore quite comfortable with it. The feeling is be more accurate to my own subjective way of seeing.
Thanks for your interest and comments and if by "life" Karen, you mean that I'm still breathing then you're correct but just barely.

Crazy Dancing
Crazy Dancing
Crazy Dancing

This is about the feeling that goes with arthritic and neurological pain and the loss of physical control one experiences or imagines.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1521
16 Sep 10 21:04

Hillel, I'm a little retiscent to ask about this painting - it's such a personally scary piece, and as it reflects your state of physical health, consequently I'm naturally worried for your well-being. The only question I'd ask you as the artist is - did it help in any way?
As it looks like some strange, dark exorcism, did it do anything to rid you of those painful daemons?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1522
17 Sep 10 19:38

Very liberating and it's my intention to do more of them. I think it's good to express what you're feeling during certain periods whatever they may be although sometimes it's hard to find the visual expression. But it's worked for me before that when during a particularly prolonged depressive period I decided that instead of being paralyzed I'd just try to paint the depression and fortunately I was able to come up with the imagery that expressed the feeling. The process actually brought me out of my prolonged funk.

I don't think this will magically work the same way and remedy my problems but I did feel better. I also happen to like the painting, at least as much as I can like anything I do. It's actually not that much of a diversion from my other work which has consistently wavered between abstract and more abstracted reality.

By the way I saw your studio log comment on the front page. You make a vague complaint about not being challenged regarding your last sculpture project. The problem is where and how does one respond or make that challenge. As has been discussed before there has to be a way to comment back and forth on those Studio Log pages. In the meantime I'll have to do it here. I liked that sculpture although I have to agree with what you said about just leaving it at the wire mesh armature stage [LINK]. That's the stage where I really like your work, very ethereal. I understand only too well the need to go to the "depths" but I really think you had something there at that very early stage, feeling easy and breezy and not strained or over-worked. Sometimes "easy" (not facile) is a good thing. So I'd say stop, forget the rest of your habitual process and the painting which IS at this point facile. Have the self confidence to leave it where it was purest and stop second guessing yourself. You've already been to the "depths" and back and then back once again. Now why not make life easier for yourself and all the rest us? Just an opinion and thanks for your concern about my well being but I'm much better than I was a year ago when I did this painting. Not exactly pain free but under control.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1523
19 Sep 10 23:06

When I was a kid, I'd ended up in various institutions against my will. This painting reminded me of those times, where the psychological impact forces one to find a visual response to somehow assimilate and make translatable the fear and anguish of being alone and unable to defend oneself against a state imposed from an external source. It's upsetting that the source in this case is the physical self, and will probably require quite a bit of patience and self-awareness to negotiate over time. I wish you much success in this endeavour - in both it's physical and visual manifestations.

Artists probably regularly find themselves at this point - attempting to reconcile the spiritual and physical demands of being - despite their innate cynicism, and (communicate/translate) this somehow into a meaningful visual statement, maybe also to give strength to others.
By this statement, do you think I'm exaggerating an altruistic spirit of art?

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1524
20 Sep 10 21:29

Hillel, Karen gave me the tip to have a look at artprocess again and I have to admit that I liked what I saw. The new painting of yours is very dynamic and interesting and convincing not only in it’s changing into the abstract. A thing I guess you are after since a long time. Yes and I love the square format. I wasn’t aware that you use it so very often what I found out when I checked your Oevre Complete. When I did my square formats I wasn’t even aware that you used them at all. I think that every format that is not rectangular in the normal or standard way is more interesting, a square one as well as a very wide or high one. But the square focusses enormously and gives great emotional power to what you show. I had this experience with “Tabletop” or “Three Weeks Left” or “Homage to Menzel”. One simply cannot hide in one corner. One has to show what it is all about. That I guess makes it such an intersting and strong format. And by the way: IT’S SOOO GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU ! ! !
And not to forget: I like the above comment of John-Paul very much. It’s strange, I had the same experience as a kid and the situations were absolutely traumatic for me but I never thought of looking for a visual depiction or how one calls this in English. Maybe that from the beginning I was looking for an alternative and how to depict this instead of looking back. But I’m no psychologist and know almost nothing about the deep dark dungeons inside a human being’s feelings.
Greetings and best wishes to both of you.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1527
21 Sep 10 00:55

Hi Hanjo, thanks for your comments and it's nice to be back and read your words again. Uh oh, it looks like the troupes may be reassembling.

Mr. Delaney, I'm not sure I know what you mean when you talk about an altruistic spirit of art. (Quick story) My wife and I cared for my father when he was dying and he went in the most brutal way imaginable. He was riddled with cancer, tumours pressing on his spine. I would sit with him while he writhed in pain. One time that I particularly remember, he was in anguish and turning around on the bed, not rolling from front to back but rotating within the whole bed. I asked him what he was doing and you could see he was in horrible pain and didn't know how to answer. Then a thought hit him, "holy smoke" he said, "I'm a corkscrew! Can you imagine that? I'm a human corkscrew and I'm being screwed right into the earth!" He started laughing at the notion and the pain seemed to ease up and he became less agitated.

I've spoken about my dad before so you know he was a mechanic. But the point I'm trying to make is that we all try to understand things as best we can and however we can. Whatever method/s we use; science, art, philosophy, religion or whatever is inconsequential. Life without understanding is too painful. Until my father invented in his mind a kind of mechanical understanding, the confusion of whatever was happening to him only confounded him and he fought against it and that compounded the pain. Understanding or interpreting, even half crazed on morphine as he was at the time, lessened the pain. That's what I think artists do. They try to understand according to their individual natures, and they try to realize and convey that understanding. They do it for themselves. It's their work and they're compelled to do it. There's nothing altruistic about it.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1528
21 Sep 10 18:12

Interesting that Hanjo should note your use of the square, a format he's obviously quite at home with. I'd like to add that my own experience is having had great difficulty with squares - I tend to avoid them at all cost. Not sure why, but Hanjo is right when he says it's power is in commanding the focus of the viewer - nevertheless I think it's that factor of perfection of those dimensions that I fail to resolve in my own painting. Incidentially, as a bit of fun, would anyone be interested in doing an online "square project" i.e. the only rule being that whatever is produced should be square in format?

Secondly, he briefly mentioned trauma experienced as a child, in response to my mentioning a need for a type of visual 'processing' or 'reckoning' in order to deal with an extreme, youthful, loss of control. As he's such a visual animal, I find difficulty in his not naturally seeking a visual depiction of the state of his spirit in those young days. How on earth did you work it out, Hanjo?
Interestingly, I've seen it in my own family where a marriage breakdown, or serious illness of a loved one, spurs one on to enter the language of the visual. Grown men who had never expressed an interest in visual art suddenly reach for a brush and colour as a means to assimilate the change that is occurring around them. Incidentially, unlike the charged fury that I see in Hillel's painting here, my mentioned explorations were the early ventures into a timid series of presumably awkward and untalented watercolour landscapes, now thankfully long since lost.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1529
21 Sep 10 18:43

Well, I can’t help my unartistic behaviour as a child. My way to survive was not to deal with the pain visual or nonvisual but with ignoring. I was living in a kind of virtual submarine and when these ordeals were over or even while they occured I dived with this u-boat it into the darkest depth of the sea of unconsciousness and looked at all the fascinating things they have stored there. Maybe this is a very archaic reflex like animals follow when pretending to be dead. But instead of being dead I explored dreams of something better than the current reality. So this way they could harm my body of course or frighten me but never harm my soul. It’s a funny thing, I know, but it’s how it was and still is. So I’m sorry that I could not make something artistically productive out of those nightmares. But in the end I think that the way I look at things and in particular human beings, their faces for example, contains much of the experience as a kind of spectator to my own fate for of course I watched what happened to me.
Anyway, what Hillel said about the artist’s approach to life and it’s torments seems very wise to me. And it even fits into my story only that I did not feel like a corkscrew but a submarine.

By the way John-Paul, near Stuttgart, in Waldenbuch, we have a museum that shows only artworks that is done in the square format. I think that it is a bit silly but the foundation that runs this museum normally produces a very famous chocolate “Ritter Sport” in square bars. So one can see that the square format can support the exiting and dramatic as well as the banal. And here we are back at the beginning of the questions about the challenges of this format.

Yo!
Yo!
Yo!

Figures interacting.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1575
12 Nov 11 13:32

Figures interacting? Now what kind of description is that. These bold works are loaded with sex, desire, intimacy, openness, and sharing between two people. I'd expect such paintings to be small, inviting the viewer, almost embarrassed by having stepped into the room with the naked couple. Instead they're big and brash, daring, and challenging the notion of what goes on behind closed doors is essentially private - to be alluded to, never to be confronted directly.
Despite his defiance, Kagan's use of paint is of the utmost delicacy. There doesn't appear to be a build up of layer over layer of paint, but rather an elegant stroke of carefully mixed colour will suffice in preparing the scene. And what colours! Tropical blues and limes surround the fleshy pinks and purples in a crumpled sea of exhaustion.
This series will make one interesting exhibition. If there's any liklihood of a show coming up Kagan, please don't call it Figures Interacting!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1578
13 Nov 11 03:45

He he, I like the title “people interacting“. You could as well have only called it „people“. What’s in it everyone can see and you, J-P, described your impression with passion. So why listing all impressions in a title?
I really love to look at this piece and its seducing colours, its sunday morning atmosphere and its theme. So again Hilled confounds me with showing how to paint something highly erotic by using bodies. Someone or something must have watered his pot! So I am very happy about this painting!

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1583
14 Nov 11 00:56

Thanks for your comment JP and it's an interesting one. I'm sure I've said this before but I really don't care what the impetus is for what an artist does. For me the motif is merely a pretext for holding a particular artist's interest in their process of creating pure visual experience. Painting is an activity that is at its essence abstract in nature. Why an image or picture works, or is of continued enigmatic interest is a mystery. I understand the need non-artists have to interpret and understand works of art beyond the formal concerns of artists themselves who generally look at works with a completely different set of criteria.

For instance the foot in in the lower right hand corner of this painting is completely wrong. It is a right foot as opposed to logically being a left foot which it originally was. Pictorially it felt wrong and I reversed it even though it makes no sense. Yet like Cezanne's wrong perspective and the apples that should roll off the table top, Freud's sometimes inexplicable bodily proportions or Michelangelo's David with its oversized head and hands for example. It's that very wrongness that for me becomes the artwork's most interesting component. (Not that I put myself in the same league as the aforementioned artists.)

The subject here is actually and simply figures (actually parts of human figures) interacting. Not necessarily male and/ or female for that matter and in this specific case my references for all the forms were female. There are no hidden meanings or reasons and I wasn't trying to make a statement about gender politics or trying to tell a story of any kind whatsoever beyond creating a convincing illusory space with some kind of dramatic action taking place. Hanjo's comment rings true and I'm pleased that he seems to like the painting or at least the photographic image of it

For lack of anything better to say and not out of laziness or lack of intellectual rigour, "figures interacting" seems the most apt description. And though, as someone who has formerly worked in the world of advertising, I agree with you that from a marketing standpoint, it's not the wisest way to depict or promote a work. But then again, who gives a shit. I've long since given up on either showing or selling.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1585
18 Nov 11 01:38

given what I imagine they have been doing, it makes perfect sense for the right foot to be there.

Confrontation
Confrontation
Confrontation

An earlier work for JP.

Painting Table
Painting Table
Painting Table

A bit of Canadian lancscape from my studio window for JP.

Permalink: https://artprocess.net/kagan/403#1721
17 Mar 13 18:04

Yikes - you do have a Canadian landscape after all! And there I was thinking hah - I finally have him.
My compliments, by the way, on your well-ordered studio and garden, and such clean windows. When do you get the time to do those paintings?
I'm not sure how you've managed it, but the inside/outside separation through the glass, in this work, has great effect.