Preface to Janos Gat Gallery's "Feel-painting" exhibition with Amikam Goldman's film "NO!art Man", featuring Rocco Armento, Arturo Schwarz, Dabney Hailey, Dietmar Kirves, Gertrude Stein, Clayton Patterson, Martin Kirves, Boris Lurie, Amikam Goldman and Yonni Maron (photographs)
Amikam Goldman worked on a documentary film, the "NO!art-man," so to speak about me-and much more-for a period of about 3 years... while laboring full time at Kim's record store on New York's Saint Marks Place in the old Lower East Side, now upscale-renamed the "East Village." As crowning glory to his intended masterpiece, he proposed that I perform some feel-painting before his camera; he insisted so. I don't like such undertaking, particularly when it comes to so called "Feel-painting," which should be an entirely personal, dead-quiet affair (...with NO!art-making it is different; it could also be a group activity; at one time, for instance, Sam Goodman contributed his final touch to my already finished large-size "Saturation Painting"-a swift caricature of my face.) Furthermore, I thought that such public painting-action had been performed quite a bit many times before... and usually, by most of the painters, even more artificially than "arty." Also, Picasso performed such painting/drawing on glass plates for the movie-camera; and naturally, the French artist Matthieu did public painting in front of large theatre-audiences in the 1950's-earliest perhaps of "performance events."
So I resisted and delayed, but finally gave in, and Ami Goldman run out of my East 6th Street workshop to a hardware store on First Avenue to buy a huge aluminum pot in which to mix the paint and wax, and then heat the mixture dangerously on the gas stove.
Clayton Patterson and Charlie Rehwinkel watched religiously in appreciative silence as I publicly performed the extreme private acts of "Feel-painting," pushing, scratching and slapping. They said they liked the results. Well, it's been done. And Amikam Goldman and his camera were outright happy. And so was I-since I had overcome, perhaps in sinfulness. And Janos Gat liked that section of the film so much that he wanted to exhibit those "Feel-paintings" later in his gallery together with showing Amikam's film. Everyone is ever happy.
(P.S. The two paintings in white on black canvas belong to a previously made set of "feel-paintings" containing concentration-camp echoes.)
These works continue my "Feel-paintings" from the early 1950's and on.
"Feel-paintings" are made by touching, caressing, almost "carving," as if to appear two-dimension-like, beating, scratching-a physical engraving of the emotionally loaded moment, with both hands, all fingers, elbows, fists, pressing against the surface-and leaving traces on paper or canvas (or other surfaces.)
A physical activity is imbedded the "maker," into the dimension of Infory, and carried out by movements of his arms and finger-muscles. If the first result is not satisfying, the canvas can undergo a second act, or more blind "Feel-treatment," or it can be thrown out. Usually it is the first imprint which is satisfactory.
The expressive power of the realized image seems to be defined by the force of the emotional stirring (an active or a passive one) preceding the physical act.
"Feel-painting" is antagonistic to pre-designed compositions, to improving or extending, as some, stemming out of Surrealist automatism, extend into painterly works; it should be incompatible to changes and refinements of compositions. It aims to rule out everything coincidental, and the accidental gesture.
The hand and finger movements of the "producer" consciously follow a program in his mind- even if he chooses later to subvert or to destroy his original intention during the "Touch-process."
The work process, technically, is a hindrance, full of delays caused by necessary preparation; colors or other work-materials need to be made in advance, and they cannot be changed quickly as far as density or other characteristics (as a pure expressionist painter might wish.)
Evaluating the result is a serious problem. Sincerely or not sincerely so, "Feel-painting" could result in positive judgment on everything that is created. And such an attitude could even be accepted, because each outcome, each "projection," truthfully portrays each "actual moment"-a record of unadorned "Time Almighty" in its progression. Furthermore, or even better so, the "maker" could accept, reject, and chose.
What does the "creator"- or observer-find in such a Rorschach work? Does the imprint visually convey the same or is it alike in its narrative or spirit? How much of his own history does the observer read into it? The blind image-maker should be able to bring the viewer at least close to a region of the maker's "Feel".
A narrative or non-objective painting can evoke different reactions and interpretations at different times by different spectators, even by the same person. Besides other aspects, "Time" is involved thereby. "Feel-painting" broadens and widens the theater of creative interpretation to a point were the observer becomes himself the director-as if becoming the producer of the "Rorschach" image. What the "maker" did not see at the time of making it, the viewer may see.
We are now in 1988, paradoxically belatedly after the actual facts, in something that can be called "After-Auschwitz". The holy fires of the rebellious 1960's have burned out, and left behind the consciousness of this gigantic "industry," viewed from the perspective of the ovens. We, the living, are under this shadow, whether we like it or not. No mass Pop and Yupp can change this.
In the opinion of its maker, "Touch-painting" is part of this unholy industry: "After-Auschwitz-art-making." It also may be deemed "Fast-art", since time is running faster, hounded by the economy (and hardly in the sense of the old optimistic Futurists!) But even better, it can be called "After-art". (I. e. after all "Art" with a capital A had been thoroughly finished.) The word "Art", now again under its economic and academic enclosure, should be used sparingly.
The speed, the shortness of minutes, translated into physical movement, enables one as well to move backwards in time-back with resilience, to the vanished lands. To bring them to the surface-Infories and layers of the lost, to call on the fingers of the ghosts. For backwards in time, as much as the mad dash ahead: is desperate, angry with love, and with hatred! feeling, scratching, beating against concrete walls-today.
* New York, May 14, 1988 (Translated: New York, January 14, 2004)
NO!art Man is a documentary film about the Russian born artist Boris Lurie, who has lived and worked in New York since 1946. This film is a portrait of one of the most radical minds in the New York art world from the early 1960's. For the most part, Lurie's works are powerful and troubling indictments of man's injustice to man. His photomontages of the late 1950's and early 1960's have been described as the most relevant and shocking images of the period. Today Lurie's images are as strong and relevant as when they were made. This film presents an artist who is still considered unknown to the general art audience.
The film is based on conversations between the director, Amikam Goldman, and Boris Lurie, from their first meeting in 1999 through 2001. The film also includes interviews with art historians, dealers, and artist friends of Boris Lurie.
NO!art MAN with Boris Lurie, Rocco Armento, Dietmar Kirves, Volkhard Knigge, Estera Millman,
Clayton Patterson, Arturo Schwarz and Gertrude Stein.
Narrator: Richard Harrington
Featuring works by: Rocco Armento, Isser Aronovici, Herb Brown, Erro, John Fisher, Stanley Fisher, Dorothy Gillespie, Sam Goodman, Richard Hambleton, Allen Kaprow, Franz Kline, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Boris Lurie, Michelle Stuart, Harriet Long Wood, Wolf Vostell
Additional Camerawork by Eddie Daza, Yuko Sueta and Ran Goldman
German Translation: Brooks Hefner
Narration Sound Technician: Amitai Asher
Ambience Soundrecording Assistant: Gabi Savransky
Loren M. Connors and Alan Licht from "Two Nights", RoadCone Records 1996
Loren M. Connors, "Evening" from "Portrait of a Soul", FBWL Label 2000
Dina Verni, "When we met each other" and "Again sit behind the bars" from "Prison Songs", Rarity 1999
Photographs: Bill Binzen, Betty Holliday, Dietmar Kirves, Fred W. McDarrah, Clayton Patterson,
Charles Rotmil, Joseph Schneberg, Sybille Wittmann.
Buchenwald Video: Clayton Patterson
"Doom Show" (1960), B&W 16mm Film by Ray Wisniewski
War footage by courtesy of NARA, The National Archives, Washington DC
Film Developping & Video transfers: COLORLAB
The Film was edited in "Beverly Films", NYC, and at "the Picture Room, inc.", NYC.
Also appeared in the film: Martin Kirves, Simone Zimmermann, Dabney Hailey, Kevin Archer, Ross Knight, David Bogosian, Arron Yassin.
THANK YOU: Veronique N. Doumbe, Dabney Hailey, Armin Hundertmark, Julia Johannsen, Harriat Wood, Jason Eastman, Lisa Goldring, Stephan Fairchild, Shalom Yemini, Ellen Simon, Mako Kamitsuna, Cal La Viscount, Daria Danzig, Josh & Brooks, Yoni Maron, Gaby Tarjan, Raya Shani, Yuri Kapralow, Alan Licht, Loren M. Connors, Du-All, Charlie Rehwinkel, Eckhart Holzboog, Alina Bliumis, Curt Germundson, Bill Binzen, Yoni Ben-Tovim, Rocio Hidalgo, Martin Kirves, Daniel Siedell, Elsa Rensaa, Mike Cribben, Ran Goldman, Dimitri, Michael & Zhenia, Mike Weiner, Arturo Schwarz, Estera Milman, Richard Harrington, Rocco & Ben Armento, The New School Department, Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, The Telaviv Museum of Art.
Most Special Thank to Dietmar Kirves and Clayton Patterson
and to my beloved parents, Yael and Gabriel Goldman without whom ...
Produced by Amikam Goldman | MAIN STREETS FILMS production 2003