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Critics and teachers have long promoted the proposition that an artist’s work should be consistent in style. Artists like me were too unfocused and random. We lacked marketable branding.
Tell that to Picasso.
While still an undergraduate printmaking major at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, I attended a lecture by the West Coast artist William T. Wiley who undermined the notion of consistency and achieved commercial success with a variety of styles, media and subjects. I was willing to try different approaches to art making, and over decades of experimentation I limited myself to a range of styles from abstraction to photorealism, and am currently working primarily in traditional oil on canvas while carving stamps from rubber and using the stamps to apply oil paint.
One can still find themes and characteristics consistent among my various approaches. For one thing, even my most abstract pieces include something recognizable, some realist property. Most often there is a human form, a companion animal or something created by humans.
My oil paintings are really all the same, but at different levels of development. My goal since 2007 has been to portray fleeting moments with faster, more spontaneous brushstrokes. I had come off a long period of photorealism that took way too long to develop. I produced hundreds of paintings that successfully captured the movement I wanted to portray with images of people moving about anonymously in public.
It’s just that sometimes I am satisfied with a simple gesture and sometimes I allow my obsessive compulsion to carry an image to more and more detail.
The stamps are small relief prints. I majored in printmaking for both my bachelor and master degrees. I was nearly expelled from graduate school because I learned to paint while majoring in printmaking and started producing more paintings and fewer prints. I explored a few options for combining the media and eventually began to use the stamps as a way of applying paint, or using paint as a way to apply stamps.
Many years ago a critic reviewed an exhibition of my photorealist works. They were all photorealism, not expressionism, not abstract, no stamps. But there were a couple pastel pieces, The critic complained that the imagery in the pastels was not as sharp as the imagery in the oils. I wasn’t consistent enough. So, why not simultaneously exhibit three or four very different ways of producing images? My thanks to the WSCC for allowing me to do so.
Steven L Boksenbaum
Visit the entire show here