by Rey Armenteros
When I say that these drawings covered the best subject matter I would ever make, it is a subtle consideration, and it may not be self-evident in the images I have so far included.
Changes came when I moved to the Shinchon neighborhood of Seoul, Korea. I don’t know what it was. I had been living in Ilsan, which was a suburb of Seoul, cut off from everything, and now I was in the thick of it. Shinchon was a college section of town, and it had everything. I was living in an old part of it that had personality and winding, labyrinthine alleys that sparked my curiosity. I discovered an art supply store and bought tiny blocks of watercolor paper, a little larger than postcards.
And my art’s subject matter was shifting as I was using more of these tiny papers. If I were to describe it in one or two words, it would be energy, vitality. In the pushing and pulling of strokes and marks, I was meeting perfect strangers that populated these brand new settings and was thrilled by the prospects these new characters were giving me.
Even after making many of these new drawings, I felt it was going somewhere that had not yet arrived; all it needed was a little more pushing, more images – images that were going to derive from connections and form new contexts, developing new worlds, new situations, new narratives.
by Rey Armenteros
In an earlier entry, I made the remark that these sorts of things come at a price – the sorts of circumstances that pave the way for changes in your work as realized by others instead of yourself. I guess this sort of matter affects artists in different ways.
The price I paid was a sudden halt in a vibe grabbed from the best black and white work I would ever produce. I had arrived at a glorious place, “Finally here!” I felt, and I was suddenly torn from it by outside agencies. At first, I wasn’t too keen on it and started questioning if this were a group I indeed wanted to show with, since obviously we were not riding on the same waves of sensibilities.
At the time, I quickly put this aside when initially enthralled with the new possibilities of colors, but it had a deep impact I only realized years later, when reflecting on those days and putting them back together in my head.
It seems to me that I lost a connection with the subject matter I was provoking in almost automatic drawing (akin to automatic writing). In giving up on that path, I was dropping a live bomb of fresh, wonderful concepts in order to get back to basics and contemplate old art school stuff.
That – the abandonment of a wave of some of the best subject matter I would ever make – was the price I paid for change.
by Rey Armenteros
I started answering my own questions. How was color (and opacity) going to change the way I did images? What did I want to do with this new approach?
I was fishing for images, letting them happen, at first, and making them with equal parts invention (allowing the paint to find faces in the clouds) and fixed ideas, which were those mental plans I was trying to get out in my art.
They were tiny paintings. I did about a hundred or more like this, and then kept doing more and more, just playing around with whatever came out, pushing my own notions of what I wanted and getting this hodgepodge of fun and unfocused details. They were mobs of ideas, and I loved it.
I was looking toward the black and white work I had just made in the weeks previous to my big change and wondering how I could make work the same ideas – but now in color.
It was not going to be easy, because now I was focused on color, that strange new element that was putting me in raptures, and not the content which was making me move to a different tune of shadows and light.