www.rembert.org (2007)

Cecelia Rembert : ARTIST STATEMENT

My concerns, focus, and interest in painting lie in the area of language. It is such a hard area in which to gain clear understanding, as even the term ‘language’ with regard to art is confused and often multi-interpretational. From the beginning I have been more confused about how to paint than about what to paint.

What I wanted to paint has always been essentially the same. I am interested in common human experiences. Here is a current list: 1. self-identity- perception of self as unique (as in specific and separate) and defined (having boundaries) 2. intimacy, bounds, love. Bonds between humans, amazing we can even make them at all. 3. nest. Idea of nest, “snug home”, security, central to all humans. 4. nostalgia for one’s childhood, childhood home—nostalgia for the innocence of childhood 5. time, the time is always now—there is no actual ...

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Cecelia Rembert : ARTIST STATEMENT

My concerns, focus, and interest in painting lie in the area of language. It is such a hard area in which to gain clear understanding, as even the term ‘language’ with regard to art is confused and often multi-interpretational. From the beginning I have been more confused about how to paint than about what to paint.

What I wanted to paint has always been essentially the same. I am interested in common human experiences. Here is a current list: 1. self-identity- perception of self as unique (as in specific and separate) and defined (having boundaries) 2. intimacy, bounds, love. Bonds between humans, amazing we can even make them at all. 3. nest. Idea of nest, “snug home”, security, central to all humans. 4. nostalgia for one’s childhood, childhood home—nostalgia for the innocence of childhood 5. time, the time is always now—there is no actual past or future, just the mental construction of what it would be. In reality we only know the present moment that is always slipping by. 6. natural world. Cycles of birth, decay, renewal. Cycles of birth and violence. Stars. Seasons. We are connected to this natural world, we are at its mercy and we also seek to dominate or control it. 7. desire for god. The desire for a purpose to life, the desire for a plan, a parent, an order, is ingrained in our beings, no matter how we come to define it. The saddest feeling is that there is no one watching. 8. others. The voice of the other. Divergent realities. The voice of the other interposed into our world.
9. grappling with our own mortality.

For me the what has always been an approach or approximation of what I feel are universal human experiences. Feelings, experiences, ideas or situations that are universal, even if unconscious. These experiences make up what we often casually call “the human condition”.

The how to paint has given me much more trouble. I have felt daunted from the implications of each “mode” of painting. Here are notes from my painting journal last year: “The difficulty with painting is the idea of illusion… 1. If you operate in the world of illusion (attempting to paint “realistically” or representationally), there must be an acknowledgement of the reason for painting an “illusionistic,” 3-dimensional world upon a 2-dimensional canvas. The necessity of painting “realistic” scenes must be in the ability to alter those scenes in accordance with a particular narrative. To paint simply for the sake of “likeness” is pointless in this age of digital reproduction.

  1. Or, secondly, there is the “mode” of painting in the “abstract” or “non-representational” tradition, the process is to find non-verbal equivalents in form, color, materials or process, which can communicate to the viewer. But is abstract language universal/ translatable? Is there a universal language? How can you find certainty in “expressionistic” language? How can one paint in an abstract language that is truly free and unburdened by historical usage or interpretation?

  2. What is a third way? Is there not a loosely-connected “contemporary” language which incorporates drawing and cartooning, narrative over “expression”, street art and graphiti?

How can one paint specific things, and know that they are communicating clearly with the viewer, but not paint “realistically” or “abstractly”? I wanted to find a way of painting that did not feel encumbered by either of those traditions, but felt free and also clear and powerful. This quest became the ‘stone in my shoe’, the conundrum but also a continual source of interest.

My current work reflects this continuing quest, as I seek to paint each of the ‘human conditions’ listed above, in a language I am developing (or finding), one that is in a middle-ground between abstraction and drawn imagery. This language is unspecific and undefined: I demand only that it feel free to me, and be a vehicle for communication.

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