Now that I’m back to painting in black and white, I’m thinking a lot about what kind of painting approaches are effective without colour. I don’t like the idea of making paintings that look like they could be better in colour, like black and white reproductions in old art books.
So I was interested to find this Robert Longo exhibition from 2014. They’re painstaking charcoal drawings of Abstract Expressionist paintings. It’s a conceptual appropriation project as much as an aesthetic one, but the first thing I thought when I glanced at these installation photos was – yes, painterly paintings without colour can totally work.Here’s Longo talking about the exhibition, and the process of translating the coloured paintings into black and white. He says:
“The translation into black and white was a really big aspect to deal with. I think that’s incredibly abstract to begin with.”
I’ve never thought of the removal of colour from an image as a process of abstraction, but of course it’s true.
Possibly with this in mind, I painted this today. I don’t like the picture much, but I like the paint.