It Feeds Itself
Image Eric White.
© Last Gasp.
It Feeds Itself (Last Gasp, 2003) is a collection of Eric White's paintings, described by the publisher as a 'hyper-intensive, distortedly lucid' exploration of 'the shifting boundaries between beauty and horror'. Works from four shows, Pink Bits, Contrived Works, Sci-Fi Western and 1000 Clowns, as well as miscellaneous works are included in this comprehensive collection spanning Eric White's career. Viggo Mortensen's contribution to this volume is in the form of a letter to the artist.
Safely removed to the backside of the middle of where no harm spoken is heard, watching the hem of a new moon rub away the edge of a ridge that may be a roof or a bridge. Grateful for the idea of a draft that might play with unbuttoned sleeves, of end-of-summer surrenders pulling up stubborn dry roots of indecision, of polite distances bridged as heads are held and necks are allowed to collapse. There is a deer by the side of a two-lane road, lying dead in fresh-mown clover. There is also a drawing on a sheet of white paper folded three times into a neat, blank square - forgotten in a seat-back pocket of a regional commuter plane that sits idle on a Chicago runway. The drawing is the beginning of a recreation of the tragic summer snapshot, with the deer perhaps changed from a doe to a two-point buck for additional manipulative impact on imagined viewers of an intended painting. Is there a connection between roadkill and sketch? Did the artist actually see the deer? Did he merely hear about it or think the whole thing up while he was driving to the airport? Are you the artist? Is there such a drawing? Will anyone ever see it? Is it gone, disposed of by ground crew service personnel? Will it hang as is on a baggage office bulletin board or in a child's room? Will it ever be continued by your hand or any other?
Let us say that a particular painting is a glimpse of an important personal event that took place a number of years ago, say twenty-nine years ago. That would put it at 1974, at this point, complete with all the associations that year or number might carry for anyone. Or, we can assert that this painting was made very recently, entirely fabricated without any conscious emotional involvement in subject matter or imagery on the part of the artist. We are defined by our connection to other people - by connections long-standing or just made, by connections broken, never made, or never to be. We are alone, together and apart. Why is the man walking out of the room, why does the woman hold on to the table in that way, why does she smile so painfully, why are there so many solitary people on the beach? Sometimes we see or experience events in such a way that they consciously stay with us. Sometimes we make paintings to tell a story about what we've seen. When we make paintings or tell stories for no specific reason, with no particular goal or audience in mind, we choose to be alone and lonely. What was it Marilyn Monroe's character in The Misfits said?: 'If I'm going to be lonely, I want to be alone' - or something like that. Being alone can be as much a comfort as a curse. It is where we know we belong, where we come from, and where we certainly are going. At rest, in the middle of our own quiet, blessedly immune to observation, criticism, or praise. Get lost, imitate no one, go beneath hard-won refinement and craftsmanship, let yourself destroy everything you have made. Isn't that part of what you are up to, Eric?