Paintings            GARY BARTEN
Tracking {Away-Towards} 2
March 2018
ink, acrylic, and tempera on paper
48" x 37"
The first notion for these paintings was considering the differences in our ideas about what “away” and “towards” might represent. I was meditating on how these concepts are reflected in our sense of space and of anticipation. By anticipation, I mean the sense of a kind of longing that we experience when we expect something or someone to arrive in our experience from what must be a physical distance from us. Longing does not always have a romantic connotation but might more often than not be either mundane, or refer to timetables and schedules, and so objects instead of persons.

Distance is the ground for both ‘away’ and ‘towards’ – the spatial recognition and sense of time it might take to travel from and to, to and from. The first impulse in these paintings was to establish a spatial depth that also was somewhat ambiguous. In the studio, I am often mindful of the paintings that Al Held did that combine traditional geometry with extremes of ambiguity.

What else is represented in the paintings, Tracking {Away-Towards}? Boxes in isometric perspective enhance the spatial ambiguity but also suggest that something is being transported. Whether towards or away from us is not answered in these paintings and so I hope the sense of anticipation – both what is in these boxes and whether they being sent out or delivered to us – might be part of the question. Tracking is, of course, the latest ruse that is now part of the edifice of e-commerce, and so unlike the tracking that came with hunting or seeking a path, there is a very pedestrian aspect to it these days.

Somehow, I think that as much as it might be a part of e-commerce allure, tracking is still a component of human consciousness that has to do with looking for answers or even trying to formulate the right questions.

“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”
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