FORMALISM

Why I Call My Work “FORMALIST”


Dictionary definition of Formalism: “In painting, formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as colour, line, shape, texture, and other perceptual aspects rather than iconography or historical or social content.”


At its extreme, formalism would be abstract art. The way I use it is to emphasize the abstracted shapes and spaces, the lights and the darks, the pattern and the plane areas, strengthened and emboldened in conjunction with the subject matter I choose, be it figure, landscape, back alleys, or still life.


The artists to whom I’ve looked for inspiration have always been those of Art History who have been the strongest in formal design:   Giotto,  Pierre Della Francesca,  Modigliani, Morandi, Avigdor Arikha, Jean-Paul Lemieux, even certain Group Of Seven works, and especially Japanese wood block. It’s about “design”. It is a form of “seeing”.


In one way or another all art features aspects of formal design. But for me, it is the consciousness of design over subject matter that matters. It is the study of formalism that most interests me. I believe the stronger the design, the stronger the work of art. That is why I can say my work is not about the subject matter, which is what viewers see. Formalism not only applies to art, but it applies to my poems, short stories and to my very life style.


The use of formalist principles in art is as much a choice as it is a matter of education. We "learn to see" at art school. How we apply that seeing is what develops into our personal vision. My love for detail and the female form preclude me from being a pure formalist (abstractionist painter).