Brent Hallard
Out of the Black Box



Back at the tail-end of the millennium painting was nothing but an old bus with a broken axle running out of gas with the same tumbleweeds rolling on past. They were the dry years. The deserts' storms would choke you with the same old rhetoric running past, 'painting is dead, never-mind it lives on'.

Well it wasn't exactly at twelve midnight that it happened, that I remember, but slowing painting started to let go of that mournful cry 'let me live' and along with the i-pod came in a more chirpy chant jiving 'plug me in, I'm alive'. And indeed painting was where it was. It was back! It still is, kind of.

It works out that painting is and still is in a world with a blue background. And this background can swing depending on the mood people are in. Painting for the new century was painting with talent. You knew how to draw. You knew how to abbreviate. You knew how bad painting could actually go without letting it go. You knew painting, that no matter how serious it had to be, had to have the edge, while staying strapped to the recognizable, a graphic awareness, and at least four tablespoons of history, oh, and don't forget the fucking busloads of syrupy pop.
I love success stories. I love this century. I love this world, where painting is at.

But, let's go back to that desert scene once more!

Orchestra!

Change the blue.

Here we are back at the end of the last millennium, back at the desert, the mournful spot, where painting had struggled to stay 'alive'. You may not have noticed last time but there was a black case half buried in the sand. And inside that case was a different kind of painting. And when you run forward and skip over to the new, the new century of Painting that bag with its contents didn't seem to make it over particularly well. That bag was Abstraction: its contents the most radical shift in consciousness in art perception and making ever to occur in over two thousand years. That bag too was the bag that landed us up in the desert pronouncing painting dead.

Why did it appear that abstraction didn't make it over?

The obvious reason is that Abstraction was the whole reason for being in the desert anyway. My bet was it wasn't needed at the time. My bet was it was too tough. And my bet is that young people don't make abstraction. And young people was the heart of new art and painting.
History is editable nothing is indelible and in the new version, new century, written in is that the black bag made it over, after all.

Interview: Out of the Black Box

Richard you are in Abstraction right?
Right!
Are you excited?
Very!
Thanks Richard!
You are welcome.

Blocks of color are placed where they are meant to be. In a given mood, when a map sets the mind in sync with a suggestion, there is a synapse: In a length and particle of color, of area, between blocks, there is rhythm, layers and positions, that knit the fabric of a certain kind.

Richard Schur works the grid, or better, he works the grid off.
His paintings suggest that he is an architect of color.

A huge canvas might be mistaken for a wall, though it is not. It's a field in the classical abstract sense: a field of colors with each unit riding off the other, individually polarized, and together forming one giant jostling grid--an 'alive' force field of the writhing kind.

These are classic paintings in that there is an up and there are sides. They are generally stretched canvas; some smaller newer ones are rougher and are painted on Masonite. Our view of them, despite the differing scale and material texture take in an attached wall; there is a floor below each painting.
While somewhat reinforcing the notion of a net, or superstructure--pliable and continually on the shift, each painted bit and surface of color brings us in and sits.
Turning this structure upside-down might well reveal some choice snippets of the tinkers that went on into the making of these paintings. However the (in)tension of the painting would be thus lost. Schur's canvases are made to show gravity's play, draw attention to its suspension, with the playful obedience and disobedience of that dramatic. 

It is balance which is the shtick that thickens this giddy: In the proportioning, the size with position, the shape with the color, the toying with emotional out-of-kilter states; with the flags that flow with the flaws of the 'natural', the hard-edge taped decisions, and the 'let's go with feeling' leftovers--all are the hallmarks, choices and snapshots, which familiarize us with his current painting practice.

There is and there is not gravity in the reality of a painting.
While gravity is the prime educator of sight, and we 'upright' see top to bottom, left, or right to left, and use this piloting to plot our diagonals and curves, which eventually create distances and things, internally there is another experience. In simple terms let's call it emotional tension--between the inner senses and the outer experience of experiences. A painting by Schur gives the eye full play, and the inner sense 'sense' of its freedoms. The painting jostles to make sense. It works in this conflict.

The dominant zones in recent paintings are squared, or nearly so. The secondary zones are slithers and partials; some of them lean or rest on more stoic apparatus. These differently attended sounds read equal in importance no matter where they are or how they add up. Slithers read as scaffolding at times, other times as unique and unassociated floating bits. Sometimes the slither area catches us first even though it clearly sits as partial. Sometimes these secondary parts are jiggers sitting just behind a weightier, or more open, or empty space, and suggest colored areas in shadow.
As zones as weight and shape and color they add to the sense but also play with our notions of gravity. We read the color as capsules of light heading each on their own course: left to right, top to bottom to top and diagonally, they read. Twinkle. Sparkling clusters. Coastlines. Oceans.
Orion is not that far off.