Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tanguy and Surrealism

Yves Tanguy, Indefinite Divisibility, Oil on canvas, 101.6 x 88.9 cm., 1942; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

An observant person said that my recent work reminded them of Yves Tanguy's surrealist landscape painting. I have always loved his work and on visits to the New York Met would stop to marvel at the geometry of his skeletal landscapes. Well maybe it was just one, and I thought this one; Indefinite Divisibility or something just like it. Before I ever started painting in oil for real it had a huge impact on me.

This stuff must have been pretty trippy in the day because it's obviously an early expression of psychedelia. The subconscious mind was represented by the disintegration of recognizable form rather than the odd arrangement or condition of them. Formally, I dwell in the latter category- more like Dali than Tanguy. But there's something very methodical and logical about the composition of abstract forms, and this is something I really relate to. They are solid and regular objects which cast shadows in barren landscapes with atmosphere and implied vanishing points. The structure more mechanical than organic. However the functional forms have no function, they are definitive sculptural concoctions.

Edmund Wyss, Viscera, 8.5" x 11", 2008, private collection

Edmund Wyss, SP, oil on canvas, 18" x 24", 2003

Inspiring. Also, the guy's work doesn't change much for well over 20 years! No small issue for us artists who are afraid of repeating ourselves.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


M4 Float [detail], oil on hardboard, 18" x 24", 2009. © Edmund Wyss

M4 Float, oil on hardboard, 18" x 24", 2009. © Edmund Wyss

My latest oil work reminiscent of several gouache pieces created this year. I've just decided to call this series Floats to illustrate their positioning and to distinguish them by title from earlier paintings. These can be view at: This one presents a special challenge. When done with gouache paint (which is very matte) on a matte paper the surface is consistent- good. When the semi gloss of oil lays on top of a matte gesso surface something about it seems wrong. Not to mention it's awfully difficult to keep the black gesso clean. Should I paint the black background with black oil paint and risk screwing up the whole thing? Not sure. Anyway, this issue will force me to take different approaches to materials which I will catalog in future posts.


As new ideas circulate in my head and my process becomes less traditional, this artist starts a blog. Like any new venture there is a little excitement and fear. I'm not just writing for myself. I hope this will be compelling enough for someone else to follow. Even more, I hope it doesn't lose appeal for me and end too soon. So here goes.