Stuart Shils, on “the smearing around of pigment.”
Stuart Shils’ urban landscapes have always impressed me. The complexity of the world is simplified, but the simplification yields complexity on closer observation. And there’s an enviable lightness and quality to the color; it’s right and true, but invented. I also like the way he handles edges — mushyness next to specifics.
In an interview with Larry Groff on his site Painting Perceptions, Shils has the following to say about subject matter:
Subject matter, or the “what is it” part of what an image is, on many levels really doesn’t matter, it’s the excuse for something else, the smearing around of pigment. Or let’s say, it’s not the primary motivation. The basements of Italian museums are filled with Flagellations of Christ but why do we pull our hair out with such pleasure in front of ones by Piero and Fra Angelico? Not because of the story, because all those guys are doing the same story; it is because of how they have told the story, in form…Not what is it, but how is it? Where are the lights and where are the darks, what color are they and what shape are they and, what are the edges like? And of course this implies, how do they all fit together, what is the formal unity in which all the parts contribute to? And from all that, emotion, impact and ultimately meaning, all flow….It is not simply a matter of painting what we see because we indiscriminately see too much and the more we look the more we see and it all gets piled on top of itself as an incoherent disordered collection of observations. This is the fallacy and pitfall of the idea of realism.