Daily Archives: October 20, 2007

“Paint the block.” – the Art of Ron Schira.

The gallery walls at Reading Area Community College are replete with art as reticent and muted as it is assertive and declarative. Conjunctions of opposites simultaneously coming into existence and being destroyed, the painted self-contained objects are manifestations and metaphors of both the imminence and impossibility of being – works of silence in which all things can be heard.*Upon entering the gallery space, an object enters our field of vision and stands as a sentinel silently proclaiming a message of paint and pain. One of the artist’s series of “Scrolls,” the piece hugs the wall yet invades our space. Rolled and bound, as are its series companions, “Scroll #17” bleeds paint with both sense and senselessness.Similarly, Shira’s “Remnants” series consists of enamel paintings on paper folded and bound. The artist’s apparent obsession with canceling the illusionist aspect of the act of painting and concretizing its result emerges as a metaphor for the combination of creation and destructive urges. Other methods of the artist’s processes include crumpling paintings and placing them under glass, inside of test tubes, and covering the painted surface with documentary media such as photographic film. * Schira is also a gifted writer. He was gracious to provide ARTology with an exclusive artist’s statement: “The works have more to do with the transmission of visual information and the varied ways that the info is cycled or relayed than what they appear to be, the scrolls and use of film and recording tape to me relates an art form in which the mode of communication has been deemed obsolete, realistic painting was replaced, more or less, by photography, and photography by the computer. The portraits are type fonts distorted into patterns that reduce a person into digital information which I then colorize with pencils to individualize and save from disappearing into the computer. The wraps are paintings that are folded and tied to give a different version of the scrolls, using the string, etc, as an element of the work. What the painting is, unfolded, is unimportant, how it is presented is. I consider the remnants to be sketches. The pipes are self contained art mechanisms that act as a conduit, but only to itself; colors, gestures, shape and form are only the tools we use to deceive ourselves and our audiences that what we are doing has significance, and of course art does has significance but in an abstruse sequence of incidental influences. I use history as a material. I want to keep the art object in the physical world of art and I do like to look at things, but the thing must to me have relevance and presence and be able to exist on its own. Once, a long time ago when my father was still alive, I told him I had an artistic block and was unable to paint, he told me to paint the block. I then painted a cement block with gold spray paint and gave it value.”*The notion of “painting the block” is perhaps the most telling clue available for true insight into Schira’s occasionally inscrutable concept-based art making. In the presence of his work one experiences palpable sensations of contradiction: expression/frustration, movement/blockage, affirmation/negation, being and nothingness.In an art context, this kind of truthfulness can be uncomfortable. Rather than using his work to present an idealized version of the artist’s oeuvre and ego, Schira creates an intentionally flawed aesthetic of imperfection. Through his work we confront not just our strength but also our fragility. The experience of being human is seen not as we’d prefer but as it is – both living and dying through each moment. This terrible contradiction is the block within us. By appropriating it into his art Schira reminds us of the work we must do to give it value.*Ron Schira’s “Pipe Dreams” is on view in the gallery of Reading Area Community College through October 26* Image: Ron Schira,”Scroll #17,” paper, acrylic, cord

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