Russell Floersch

Art motivated by location geography measure position emptiness fullness.

Paul Feeley, 1965

...instead (he) proposes an interdependency between the meaningful and the meaningless.

Martin Herbert on Tris Vonna-Michell, Artforum 2009

This is what Rothko meant when he said he painted big pictures in order to "be very intimate and human"...Rather than an object on the wall, each of his mature paintings is a place to be.

Calvin Tomkins on Mark Rothko, "The Escape Artist",The New Yorker September 28, 1998

 

It is the quality of wood which has lasted in America and remains as strong as ever, a quality as definite and pervasive as marble ever gave to a country, and one that similarly supplies the base of life and imagination. The classical material of American building is wood and the characteristic structure is clapboard, frame surfaces of overlapping strips. It is painted white.... In America the idea of structure envisages a broad assembly of slender parts, standing squarely, but with a quality of light attentiveness, independent but aware.... In the balance [of the construction] there is the most lively serenity: it is recognisably embodied in the colour, the white paint.

Lawrence Gowing, "Paint in America" 1958 


Three episodes from my childhood that held great fascination for me at the time have persisted, influencing what and how I paint. My father and I built a train set together, and the miniaturism of the town and its landscape made a strong impression. We made the armature for a mountain out of wood and chicken-wire, then coated it with plaster and painted it. Even then, at 8 years old, this seemed like an act of pure creation. A few years later, my grandfather proudly showed me how he had repainted his stairwell wainscoting in two contrasting values of grey, separating them with a stripe of red. But I remember most the faint line of pencil he had drawn to act as a guide. Around the same time, on a trip to New York City, I watched a woman on the subway as she used makeup to conceal her eyebrows, then redraw them with a pencil.

Erasure, memory, and recall serve as subject matter and process in my paintings. These paintings favor the physical over the visual. The relief elements projecting from the surface in my paintings have a variety of origins, but share a common quality: they are the products of unknown agents, and invariably a collaboration follows when I engage with this source material in the studio. The shape left where found photographs had been cut or edited were the first source. I accepted the impossibility of accurately portraying excised visual information, but the voids left in these photographs could be measured and cast in papier mache, and the physical loss reclaimed. These projections, mated to the painting's surface, are coated with countless thin layers of flat color reminiscent of wall paint, which relates to a place I encounter or that's captured in the photographic fragments. In my current work, the source is tradespeople who paint and repaint an interior area. These unintentional painterly incidents are the result of decades of painting a surface to cover, protect, or alter its appearance, rather than studio work focused on invention or discovery. In early repaintings, the worker may avoid an object -- some kind of hardware, an electrical plate, or moulding -- but after repeated applications, an area once painted around with care may eventually be buried under layers of paint. Despite its objectness, the feature might hide in plain sight, subsumed into a greater field. In my most recent work, I've combined ersatz wall surfaces with the relief components that are miniaturizations of larger elements from a landscape vocabulary.

RF