All posts by mike bauer

i've been writing, painting and making photographs for a long time. my identity is created through what i make, not what i think.

layer and level

start with the truth that the mark is the painting, that the painting is something held in something — frame; room, city square, starry night are frames. that the paint mark, the first stroke is the finished painting. realize that, live with that humble truth. then, make the painting. the mark becomes the emblem, the thing in the art — the figure; person, clouds, painterly motions — they’re the content, and the content reflects the primary gesture on the board — what you made, the stroke, and how you made it. the painting is a picture of the artist — an hologram of the artist’s personality.

the emblem falls off the board if it’s not held there by the viewer. so many flecks and noises in the atmosphere surround what we feel and see — we’re in a bowl of motion. somewhere, on the painting, is another painting. that’s when art becomes art and not copy xerox; when art is as complicated and compassionate and angry in the image as it is in the viewer’s consciousness and spirit. that’s something the artist has to find in the painting. it can’t be anticipated.

starting over

starting a new piece is like finding yourself locked in a trunk and only knowing that there’s an outside, but not yet seeing it. scratching around, you find hand holds, find that you’re actually on the side of a mountain and you have vertigo. the handholds change as you examine them, looking for certainty, turn into caves, finally. and, on the cave’s walls are old scratchings of images: messages from your ancestors, random notices, water markings, showing you how to open up your small gestures, instead, into the world of animals and their curious teeth and yawns of boredom. that’s when the work becomes really hard, because that’s when you first confront the audience, the reality that the painting must have life for the viewer. you have to remember that you yourself are the viewer, that you’re painting something so you’ll have something to see. there’s not enough to see as it is; the world needs more nature, not less. you become ‘nature’.



what happens to me when i feel that people think i’m entertainment, think my painting is a joke? think i talk too much some times, that i’m too this or that — intense or obsessed… what i am is very isolated, and i need people to put as much consciousness into my work as i put in theirs. but, who are my friends? people who think i’m good entertainment but think i should just lighten-up? and, i don’t really want to post my paintings anymore, because, why?… because people just don’t seem to know what a painting is for? but, what is a painting for…? a painting exists in nature just as a leaf exists in nature — you look at a leaf to find the secrets of nature. but in your vanity you look at a painting to see what you’re supposed to see when you look at one — to show everyone you like ‘paintings’, to see a fucking sunset that looks so stupid next to a real sunset — that is, one which makes its own light… and, to see the ha-ha/boo-hoo/wow-wow picture minnie mouse has on her encino hills wall.

the painting is a picture of the artist, is a raw picture of nature and should be talked with, not snacked on. so, all i can figure is that my stuff is just cheese puffs for people who think painting should be roast beef. that’s my beef today.