Persimmon Life Studies

Lost and Found – John Tallman

Color Chunkuntitled, Color Chunk, John Tallman, 2008

Brent John, I’m looking at two recent chunks. Let’s start with the first: a bluish object that declares itself as something wrapped. What it is wrapping I have no idea, nor do I have the faintest what the wrap material is. I remain lost.
However, I’m not entirely lost with the experience. And that the experience is anything but mundane is intriguing.
You get the color. There are actually many colors in there. Though there is just one color. It kind of makes me think of ‘nature painting’, or a ‘still life’, how hard it is to translate that to surface, to color. Though in this piece’s life you have reduced the color to the singular to allow it to breathe the form. It’s a color chunk for sure that we experience through the ‘experience glob’. It seems that the piece is ‘ranging in the “untitled”’ zone, which is probably best. I don’t even know if it is worth knowing what the thing was before it became what it is now. Certainly I’m not expecting anything more than what is forthcoming. And it keeps coming, unfolding, and then closing, definitely as something wrapped. Why am I going through these motions? My feeble answer is because that is what we do. We wrap things to protect, as a way to store them–to wave off time and the feeling of ‘perishable’. At least this way we give greater length and breadth to life.
Or is the thing that you have created already something past, past a ‘use by’ date. Doe it matter to think this way? Are you expecting the encounter to unravel this question, or are you interesting in a simple contact? How would you respond to someone wanting to know every detail of what this was before it was molded, fabricated, and colored?
Why did you decide to mould it in the first place?

John Tallman Brent, as I’m typing this I have the piece in question sitting next to my computer. I pick ittallman_021 up. It’s extremely light yet extremely hard. The color is a tad paler than I have posted on color chunks. I jazzed it up a little bit to be seen via digitally. It seems that many of the things I make are made to be reproduced and seen digitally rather than to be made to be seen in person, “live”. It intrigues me we are having this whole conversation about an object you’re experiencing from a digital reproduction from 1000’s of miles away. The original inspiration for making things like this came from my google searches of things like “red wax” or “pink balls” or “purple foam”, the results of which I post as “color chunks”. I decided to physically reproduce some of these things I searched for and found through the Internet. The purple piece in question is not the result of one specific search. It’s like something I would find. Now it has returned, in effect, to its digital roots. Except here it sits. And I don’t mind telling you how I made it.

It was toilet paper taken off the roll, sort of wrapped around and dipped in pigmented, liquid urethane resin. The resin completely saturates the paper, but it doesn’t break it down like H2O would. It bonds to the fibers and actually becomes the paper. Then it swells a little bit and then hardens. So it’s the paper wrapped around nothing-itself. It’s like opening a box with tissue paper in it, tossing away the tissue paper to look for the item in the box, except there is no item in the box.

I like the way the folds and wrinkles look. They suggest movement and they are complex. Pulled and pinched. There’s something art historically “classical” in it. You know all that Greek drapery. Of course it’s on such a small, irrelevant scale. Like a relief it comes out from the wall, but needs it at the same time. It’s some kind of post-consumer bric-a-brac. It’s plastic and yet handmade.

And now let me explain the color. It’s what the piece “becomes”. In effect, it’s the only thing that gets pinned down. It’s the certainty. It’s what is known. Everything else is floating-the function, the context what it “is”…That’s what “color chunks” is about. Ever see those baby books that have the word RED and a photo of something red? And then the word YELLOW and a picture of something yellow? Someone once said that’s what the Color Chunks blog reminded them of. I thought that was great. It’s this pre or post verbal fascination with color. Where everything else is in flux, I use the color to hold something momentarily. This is PINK. I know it is pink. You can’t say what it is exactly or why it is, but I know it must be PINK.

Interview Part Two

Color Chunkuntitled Color Chunk, John Tallman, 2008

Brent The second image, again, without a title, feels very different—a part of a thing? The little black tracks create one 90-degree angle. And the marks are quite deliberate, say, different from other pieces that have a few drops of color, or a splatter. There is an odd play between textures, surface, and this time, a very gentle and shifting color. It would be wonderful if this were just a found object with the slightest of manipulation, with the addition of these strange little black dots. If it were part of a thing it now reads very much its own subject, simulating the orient [?], marked with a formal or primitive sign.

John Exactly, it is a part of a thing! It’s a piece of a painting that I broke off, or was broken off. It’s a fragment. I’ve been casting a series of paintings out of plaster. The original painting was wood on acrylic, I made a mold of that and then started casting replicas in resin and plaster. Then I break pieces off to make other “pieces”. This is one of those “pieces”. The question becomes, and it always seems to be the question for me, how much do I DO? How much do I finish the piece? How much do I sand off or round off the edges? How finished should it look? How planned? How spontaneous? How much should I think about it?

I’ve very pleased this one does read as found object. It looked like a found object to me. It was unfinished plaster to begin. And, by the way, I hate plaster: the moisture issue, the lack of tinsel strength. It sucks. I poured some resin over it. And with resin you never know what you’re going to get really. There must have been some moisture left over, it evaporated, passed through the resin and made bubbles. The gentle, gradation of surface and tone was made by lifting the piece while the resin was not yet cured, letting it slide off a bit.

So it appeared to me as a broken piece of celadon pottery. But it looked “unfinished” and it “needed something”. And here again, I’m left with how much do I DO? It’s very hard for me to make strongly intentional marks with a brush. I’m much more comfortable dripping and pouring. Too much control on my part leads to fiddly. I think we’ve “touched” on the fiddly issue before. (A Brit Slang term I love by the way. There is this uneven flow of American Slang into Brit-Aus English compared to Brit-Aus Slang into American English. We can blame Hollywood, I guess. I wish we could get more of it here without Americans sounding totally stupid—No worries, mate!).

Color Chunk [detail]I decided for this piece the series of “tracking” marks would be acceptable. I’ve used these kinds of marks before where it looks like something has, sort of, tracked along the edge. The marks are what ‘is’ left of the action. Of course, they are not at the center. That would be too much. The marks sort of mimic the irregular cut of the whole shape.

And then finally there is the “presentation” or “display” of this object—Isolated and put on the wall at eye level forces a confrontation. Confrontation is too strong a word, of course. It’s this thing that looks like a broken, found object, and it’s elevated to the role that ‘fiddly’ perfect paintings are supposed to take. So it hints at “ancient art”—broken pottery, Egyptian plaster painting etc…Does it become more beautiful, poignant, because we’re left with the ruins…left to imagine and fill in for ourselves what Aphrodite’s arms are doing. Of course this romantic notion is a nice little cliché. I haven’t made more objects like this one because I didn’t really want to get into all that. Because I arrived at all this accidentally, it’s Okay.


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