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Thursday, January 07, 2010

David Park, Struggling Between Figurative and Abstract

David Park - Male Nudes at the Water, 1957
oil on canvas

David Park was a pioneer of the Bay Area Figurative School, and like other artists of this movement he went back and forth between representational and non-figurative. Park's struggle to get out of Abstract Expressionism and to find the truth of his art in Figurative was intense for all his life and in certain moments dramatic. He said once, I was concerned with big abstract ideas like vitality, energy, profundity, warmth; they became my gods; they still are; I disciplined myself rigidly to work in ways I hoped might symbolize these ideals; I still hold these ideals today, but I realize that those paintings never, even vaguely, approximated any achievement of my aims.

Sometimes this journey was taking place in the same artwork, with contradictory styles in coexistence and interaction. Says Mark W. Scala, in Male Nudes at the Water sensuous textures and broad passages of color are blended sufficiently to suggest the physicality of the figures, but without compromising the free flowing essence of abstraction; the subjects remain anonymous, dislocated in the agitated materiality of aquamarine, cerulean, viridian, vermilion, neutral and flesh-toned paint; ironically Park achieves in figurative painting the gestural freedom that eluded him in the years he was pursuing Abstract Expressionism.

(Paint Made Flesh)



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