WIDE EYES OPEN

WIDE EYES OPEN

— About and around a drawing and a panting by Steve Galloway —

By ROSANNA ALBERTINI

STEVE GALLOWAY, Big Plume, 2010  11" x 14" Charcoal on paper Courtesy of the artist

STEVE GALLOWAY, Big Plume, 2010,  11″ x 14″ Charcoal on paper
Courtesy of the artist

Think if the earth could open her eyes and look at us. Or breath out a plume of smoke that fills the air with a gigantic human shape. Which one is the language of god? Words or figures? The figments of imagination or the texture of grammatical meanings? I’m playing, not joking. There is mystery in both, in both we question what does it mean to be human, today.

A Los Angeles artist, a son of the desert (see Importance of Being Perplexed, in this blog), has expressed the letter as well as the mystery of our juxtaposed states of mind; he made them beauty. In these days, beauty has often become intolerable. Is it maybe for the connection she makes to life itself? The tangible thing soft like the green buds on a branch hatching under pressure, leaves and flowers that want to grow out of the brown skin, to bloom and change and push toward their seasonal death.

Steve Galloway is welcome! He can see the eclipse of a human arrogance disconnected from natural and artificial cathedrals, or climbing towers of books from which texts have vanished. Survivors are absent minded, sweet people of dreams. Some irony in his smile, the artist loves them. He knows they don’t give up searching and jumping into the hole of memory. Nor do they stop looking into the eyes of the earth as if their body could translate unheard signs better than the brain.

STEVE GALLOWAY,  Stack, 2012, 50" x 40"  Oil on canvas Courtesy of the artist

STEVE GALLOWAY, Stack, 2012, 50″ x 40″ Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

Condensing a thought by George Steiner, I see numb humans deafened by the common nonsense of the news and the theories, confused by “political barbarism and technocratic servitude,” evicted by the core of humanity if they don’t try to experience, again and again, the living voice coming from texts, music, visual arts. A few of us believe that poems, music, paintings, sculptures, speak an essential idiom: the beauty of survival. What we have become, doesn’t matter.

Pressing the face on the ground we might better decipher — the idea of sculptor, Giuseppe Penone — earthly magic and art stories.

 

fino a quando la terra è piu fredda della faccia premuta

nel suolo si capisce in dettaglio la forma del volto,

della pelle, dei peli, … ma man mano che si scalda

la terra, nel pensiero diventa piu chiaro che il cervello è

la terra.” (GIUSEPPE PENONE)

when the ground is still cooler than the face pressed

into the soil one can grab in detail the shape of the face,

of the skin, of the hair, … but as soon as the ground warms up,

more and more the thinking is clear that the brain is

earth.” (GIUSEPPE PENONE)

Gallery

IMPORTANCE OF BEING PERPLEXED

PAINTER STEVE GALLOWAY, a SON OF THE DESERT

by Rosanna Albertini

Object is fact not symbol (no ideas). It is, is cause for joy (John Cage)

But words are not shadows. Words are objects. (Viktor Shklovsky)

 Let me tell you a story. There is a ditch between the pleasure we receive from an artwork and truly seeing what the artist did. With Steve Galloway’s pictures, I could be stuck in the ditch forever were I asking help from books. One of the smartest tells me that “we don’t know how art began any more than we know how language started.” (E. H. Gombrich) Therefore, I must thank yesterday’s sunset: it was a scattered movement of light fighting the grayness through the clouds. As the light grew dim, electric ovals, intertwined, drew in the sky one of the most classical and mysterious secrets of painting: how the painting itself generates light. The sky became an immense painting over the city of angels which is desert and money and romanticism and politics, but the desert comes first.

STEVE GALLOWAY, About 20 Feet  2014  Pastel on paper 25" x 20" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway,  ABOUT 20 FEET  2014,  Pastel on paper,  25″ x 20″
Courtesy of the artist

STEVE GALLOWAY Consumed   2014  Oil on linen  20" x 16" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway,  CONSUMED  2014,  Oil on linen,  20″ x 16″
Courtesy of the artist

As an artist, Galloway is a son of the desert. A master in the land of nothingness, where our individual nature is the least part of ourselves. He questions the space, the sunlight, artificial lights, transient colors, bushes, rocks, animals, insects and paints them as estranged presences; history will never box them in. Galloway’s house, the mouse, the spider or the red bed underwater bring up the triumph of a detached isolation. “Look at me, I’m a different bed, you don’t know me. Only Steve can touch me, not even him, his brush, or his pencil does, I’m powerful. I’m a light plant.” The red bed has become the quintessence of an heroic solitude, a king hiding the crown. A medusa bed? When the aquatic Polyphemus bites the red cover, then really the bed’s power flows over the sand surface and goes far, far away. That’s the art: a common object mutates into a magical presence and we can feel it’s power.

Yet, before the sunset I hadn’t seen that each scene built in Galloway’s mind doesn’t include shadows. The opposite happens: the painted image diffuses the light it contains, may we call it life? Images mark their presence on the ground in spite of realism or physical limitations. They play with words, but don’t reveal the story. Bushes devouring a little house, a big frog hoping to eat the dragonfly. Our eyes eating the image in one blink. Although constantly threatened, this imaginary universe is meant to expand as a message of freedom. Is the mouse dreaming to be Cootie Williams while he blows the trumpet? Is the TOOT the center of desire that generates light around the little animal on the straw? Whatever the environment, the circumstances, it is, is cause for joy.

STEVE GALLOWAY, MAYFLY 2009, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 28" x 20" Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, MAYFLY 2009, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 28″ x 20″
Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, TOOT, 2013 Pastel et fusain sur papier, 38 x 28 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Steve Galloway, TOOT 2013,  Pastel et fusain sur papier, 38 x 28 cm.
Courtesy of the artist

I believe that I like to see what is seen.

Ah yes of course.

I believe that I like to see what bothers me.

Oh yes of course.

I believe that I like to be what is not human nature to be because human nature is not interesting. …

But anything flying around is.

Oh certainly.

Therefore there is the universe.

Because it is flying around.

It is interesting.

Romance and the human mind are interesting and are they flying well they are not. (Gertrude Stein)