October 13, 2009

“To be always beginning”

When I went to see Todd Bura’s show “Misfits” at Triple Base Gallery back in 2008 I was in the middle of writing a poem titled “Dream.” It was almost done, but there was a central line that I knew would eventually be crossed out in favor of something stronger, a proclamation. When I left the show I was impressed by the extreme stillness it brought about in me. I was trying to figure out how work so pared down could be so overwhelming. I had heard that Bura insisted that the gallery’s office door be kept closed, believing this was extremely important to the presentation of the paintings and the sculpture. I went ahead and closed it (to the annoyance of the gallery worker), and all the pieces linked up. I said, “His sensitivity creates technique,” and I knew then it was the line to bolster and finally finish the poem.

The sentiment of that line is certainly in keeping with the title of Bura’s new show at Triple Base,
“Painting Spiritual Painting”. For the most part there is more activity and color in this show. The poster has a quote by Rilke which reads: Always at the commencement of work that first innocence must be achieved. You must return to that unsophisticated spot. When the angel discovered when he brought you the first blinding message…if the angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced him, not with fears but with your humble resolve to be always beginning, to be a beginner!

The more minimal pieces are still the most effective for me, especially when they are not hung at eye level. There was one left propped up in the right front window, and another hiding at the side above the door to the office. The more casually the pieces are presented, the more the geometry catches me off guard — they look cleanest from an off angle. There are a few colors employed that I find a bit too bright. I kept thinking “Caribbean” or a type of nail polish that turns unflattering by the time it dries. But when I stepped away and across the room, it seemed less of an issue, and even less so when I studied the photos after getting home. The brighter paintings stick out as of a different mind set, not as a natural progression, the first or last to be painted. Another new element is the look of fingernails or wire scraping into the paint. The paintings in “Misfits” deflected your gaze and used the light pouring in from the storefront windows to great advantage. The slight lines forced into the surface of the new paintings allow entry and can form a track for you to follow.

You are also given levitating square surfaces on which the eyes can rest. You have a choice on how far back you wish to move. With work so inherently subtle, every component is essential, even the heads of three nails across the top of the painting. I took a look at the list on my way out and was surprised to see each piece was titled Your Painting.

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