Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Muybridge as Muse

Recently I posted about being inspired by the work of Eadweard Muybridge, and in response I received this e-mail and images from Oregon artist, Don Gray. What gorgeous works!! These pieces remind me of the content of my Mummy self-portrait, where I collaged Muybridge's Woman Turning into my drawing, and filled my torso with objects similar to what is found in the compartments of the top four pieces shown here. I see something of the artist John Hultberg in these works as well, especially in the charcoal drawing, Trying to Land on Your Feet.

Here is what Don has to say about his work:

I was interested in these moving figures in relation to the passage of time, the fleeting quality and poignancy of it all. I also imagined that a couple of steps could represent lifetime journeys. “Cycle” was my admittedly clumsy male attempt to comprehend the lives of women... the roles that have been traditionally dictated to them by society... self-image vs. culturally imposed image, etc. Each figure was painted individually on separate panels later joined, but no effort was made to make one panel “match” with the next. I’m including a couple of other paintings showing the vessel forms I was also painting at the time, since they figure into a lot of the Muybridge work as well.

Here’s size/media info:

“Cycle”, acrylic and mixed media construction, approx. 60” x 66 x 5.5”.

“The Time of Our Lives”, acrylic and mixed media construction, approx. 36” x 120 x 5.5”.

“Measured Steps”, graphite and charcoal on paper, approx. 40” x 50”.

“Trying to Land on Your Feet”, charcoal on paper, 40” x 54”.

“Restoration”, acrylic on board, 72” x 48”.

“A Night of Snow in the Mountains”, oil on canvas, approx. 34” x 72”.

Just beautiful, Don! There is nothing "clumsy" about these!


Susan Beauchemin said...

Don! Wow, I really like these paintings--also with the shelves or the cabinets surrounding the walking figure. I can see the colored threads and such for the female, but what is surrounding the male? Is he underground? That large cracked vessel is beautiful.

Don Gray said...

Martha, I'm a bit overwhelmed--I didn't expect you to post these on your blog! At any rate, I'm flattered and honored--thank you. I too was struck when I first saw your "Mummy" drawing with the relationships it seemed to have to the Muybridge-related work I had done.

These works were done in the mid to late 80's, and were the beginning of a transition which I feel I have yet to complete. I'd like to find my way back to more exploratory type work, and what you're doing is very inspirational to me.

Don Gray said...

Sue, in my ususal schizophrenic fashion I had several themes going at once when these Muybridge figures were done. I had been working on some three dimensional landscape sculptures at the time, and that influence is what shows in the 3-D "hills" above the walking man's head. The sculptures were like slices of earth and were the models for the abstracted forms in "A Night of Snow in the Mountains." I was also doing a lot of paintings of vessel forms. There are actual pottery shards glued into the boxes down below. I was also looking at a lot of Louise Nevelson's black sculptures at the time, which I think was a primary inspiration for the boxes.