O images, dear enfant, images . . .
Never let those scales drop from your eyes
James Merrill, The Changing Light at Sandover
No one knows what makes good art; it's always a surprise when it appears. Painting is saddled with having to mean something, and paradoxically, with having to be pure experience. An artist is supposed to be a wizard of meaning, as if art is a parable, or a wizard of commentary as if art is a scholarly endeavor, or a wizard of light as if art is an optical experience. I think that artists work to see what it is that they'll make. We make images, as if images are language. The images that we make jostle against all of the other images; you have to like a crowd. Art is the entirety of this process, the practice of imagination in a crowd. There's an inherent optimism to it. It is resonating within oneself, and because we're human, resonating within the vibrant world.
There's always much to say around art, after the fact, but little to say before or during. The most that can be hoped for is to feel your way to doing what you want to do with a kind of free defenselessness, and to recognize some version of what you wanted to do in the results. This distance (between half-intuited, half-reasoned intention and its result) is the half-life of art.
Ad Reinhardt must have said it somewhere: Art is not life, and life is not art. Philip Guston said We are image-makers and image-ridden. Yvonne Rainer said Feelings are facts; and Artaud said There is a mind in the flesh, and Mind belongs to matter. Painting is life, a kind of living in images: thinking in images, practicing imagination. Images are facts, feelings, signs, symbols, signifiers, referents, reflections, echoes, gestures and emotions made manifest, mimetic language, clues, pointers, metaphors. All marks are images, all of painting is the intentional making and presentation of images. No images are pure, least of all abstract images; yet all images are abstract, but muddled with meanings intended and unintended. An image, in its simplest form, is visceral, kinetic thought. Painting is haptic thought. All thoughts are permitted.