“>Painting is about letting go & about choosing what to hold on to. Art history is what emerges through the ravages of time & survives through the ravages of critical authority.

“The World” & “The Planet” have two entirely different connotations. The World is primarily about human progression (anthropology); the planet is concerned with primordial cycles, nature.

As a human, an artist / mark-maker I wrestle between the two – I am of the world and of planet.

Painting is making millions of aesthetic choices without fear or hesitation. Unlike sculpture or installation painting takes up little space. I had planned only to use the 30ft roll-way on arches watercolor paper as a final product, a performance painting but I held onto the entire performance installation for three months. It struck a chord as to who I was between the world & the planet; giving birth & being given birth to.

It divided my studio & it halted my making new work. Over the weeks and months the mud dried. The hand ropes strung from the ceiling to help me pull myself along became like umbilical cords. And as the mud dried in the pits it became like the surface of the planet.

Two days ago I broke the mud pits up. Too heavy to keep as one Simeon loaded the dried mud into buckets & was astonished by how heavy it was. It was no surprise to me, when Derek & I drove the topsoil into Manhattan from Montauk it weighted his van down by 3 inches. This stuff is what constitutes the planet and the planet is WAY-heavy; this is stardust.

Being a professional artist since the age of 17 I rarely regret destructive choices in my process. I learnt very early as a painter – if you include all color you get mud. Being clear, creating new beauty is about using a limited palette & knowing when to stop. Making art is a very Zen practice.

The day after I recycled the dirt I was overcome with artistic regret. I erased a mark that was important & beautiful. But it took up space and was heavy. I justified – It was not a sculpture it was an experience, a performance.

Is naming something “Art” an attempt at making human existence permanent? Being a successful artist is not being attached to technique or a particular work but using that knowledge as a stepping-stone to new ways of working not an end.

“The mess and filth we clean and control is in actual fact stardust. The Earth is the compacted dust of thousands of exploding stars. From dirt we came and to dirt we shall return and in between is life. We are custodians of the most magical substance – dirt, nothing more and nothing less – it is a grand job.” TB

About Theresa

Australian-born artist Theresa Byrnes began to exhibit her paintings in 1986 at the age of 16. She has had over 20 solo shows at spaces including Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and Australia, Cristianne Nienaber Contemporary Art NYC, the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C., and many galleries in New York and Australia. Her work has been included in Documenta USA, Art Gotham, Redlands/Westpac Invitational Prize and over 25 more group shows. In 1996, Byrnes was awarded a Young Australian of the Year award. Her performance pieces, which have been seen all over the East Village and repeatedly at the HOWL Festival, have been called "wondrous," "purist," and "uncompromising," by London's Daily Mirror. Byrnes published her autobiography The Divine Mistake in 1999 (Pan Macmillan, Australia). She moved from Sydney to New York in 2000 and received Pollock-Krasner awards in 2003 and 2006. A monograph on Theresa Byrnes’s work, unifying her abstract painting, performance art and portraiture, is planned for publication by CHARTA BOOKS in 2012.
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