In the first installment of a blog series, John Yau provides background on painter Forrest Bess. Yau focuses on Bess' background and the formation of the 'visionary' philosophy behind Bess' art.
Yau quotes a statement by Bess: "I term myself a visionary artist for lack of a better word. Something seen otherwise than by ordinary sight. I can close my eyes in a dark room and if there is no outside noise or attraction, plus, if there is no conscious effort on my part - then I can see color, lines, patterns, and forms that make up my canvases. I have always copied these arrangements without elaboration."
Caleb De Jong reviews the an exhibition of paintings by Forrest Bess at Christie's, New York, on view through April 3, 2012.
De Jong writes: "Supporting himself as a fisherman in the Gulf, Bess believed his work's symbols were descended from a Universal principle and could be understood by all... Bess, perhaps, believed his mythology more than most. Like any artist, however, [his] work stands on its own strengths independent of any invented or universal imperative. Formally bold and stylistically direct... Bess' work comes off as fresh and immediate."
Robert Boyd posts a video of a Forrest Bess painting being appraised on PBS's Antiques Roadshow. The video is notable for the juxtaposition of the appraiser's helpful art historical context and the personal comments by the owner who was a friend of Bess and received the painting as a gift.
In the video the painting's owner describes details from Bess' life and describes Bess' visionary process: "During the day he'd take naps and you'd see him wake up and he'd write something in the book and go back to sleep - then he'd take that and put it on the canvas."
Simek writes: "Bess's work is powerful in its preciousness - aching with an intensity and fervor of ideas that, even for its size, challenges the monolithic works by his AB EX contemporaries at the mid-century,when most of his works on view here were made. Certainly, because of their scale, and the crude handmade frames, Bess's work immediately reads in an intimate, spiritually-leaded way."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.