Ink Paintings

Personal project to understand the boundaries of my own authority over materials and to embrace the persistence of entropy and the fortitude of acquiescence, 2017-2018

Though abstract, these pieces are overwhelmingly personal. Lines of ink drawn across a paper. When I made these pieces, I was primarily concerned with an issue of control. For this reason, these paintings for me seem to be artistic only in their categorization, whereas their true character is perhaps more architectural in its pursuit of the boundaries of control and material instability. So often in architecture, we regard our lines as exact – fixed expressions of linearity unflinchingly scarred across screen and page.

In the most literal, non-intellectualized sense, this is a fantasy of the discipline. Walls waver and floorplates sag under the overbearing weight of gravity. Our expressions are material, and by that definition they are constrained from birth to inexactitude and, ultimately, fated to impermanence. Even the most freshly constructed things attain a certain wavering quality. Metal studs are bent like butter and folded onto one another by construction workers unburdened with architectural concept or contextual meaning; edges are sanded away with by hand with more haphazard gusto than predicated by the scientific machismo of the computer.

When I first wet the wax paper on which these are produced, I commenced a process which was both unpredictable and contingent on the very moment of its initiation. Was the room humid? Did my breath across the page make uneven the thin layer of water which would soon set into motion the creation of these paintings? As I laid ink in evenly distributed lines, my hand grew more tired with each staccato motion. The twist of the wrist at the end of each line – down across the page to begin the next – slowly tired me. Did my hand become plaint to the force of its exertion to stand steadily above the page?

When I began to swipe a piece of balsa wood across the fresh ink, I could feel the resistance of the first line. Hardened by its short but comparatively significant age, it gave way to my insistence only by force and not without stubbornness. As its ink dragged the inch-or-so to its neighboring line, the evenness of the page became something no longer invisible. Patches of dryness caught the ink, especially swampy expanses diluted the blackness absorbed into them across vast planes of pulpy hills and valleys.

Lines gradually ran into each other in an inevitable process where I lacked entire control of any specific outcome. It is this acquiescence which felt so meditative in these paintings. We are trained so diligently to retain authority over the canvas, the design, the methods of construction, yet in reality we are unable to correct even the natural bend of a metal panel. We are just as unable to stall the onslaught of rust as we are to pursue a more ideal world against the entropy of human existence.