@6" x 6"
Every art has it's context. Just because you want to paint the future thing, this doesn't mean you will necessarily have to lose the older things. These things can co-exist: the new and the old. Wolf Kahn employs the uber-abstractionism and expressionism of his era (which era still continues) and yet he paints nature. It is a balancing act that has to be done; a voice that must be heard.
In a comparison from my days as a rock climber, I think of the old-timers (many of whom I have talked with and had the pleasure of being at the same crag with) who used a climbing trick of standing on their partner's shoulder to gain a high reach. What do we painters do when we consider the earlier painters? Do we stand on their shoulders, or do we put our foot on their face, so to speak, and say, I have no regard for you? Whatever the case, we still find ourselves elevated to the higher stance by their work and its stature.
To continue the metaphor, I well remember the first time I led through on a hard rock climb that my mentor crumped on. He offered me to lead through, which was a compliment. For some inexplicable reason, the thing worked out, and I climbed past my master (just once). To fill out the analogy, this climb was rated the same as a particular climb that is near Los Angeles and was the hardest climb of the decade of the nineteen fifties. I met the first ascensionist and we got to be on a first name basis for a short while. My hero, whose work was breakthrough stuff a few decades past, was now easy to match. But, only because the march of time had brought his knowledge and techniques forward for every man to obtain with some effort.
I tell this story because I often think of the challenges we face when we try to be good painters today. There are more paintings to paint and we can certainly try to paint to the highest standards, if we just put in the effort.
This stream of thought is my response to an article about Wolf Kahn at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in 2007. Anyway, you should go read that if you are still with me this far. An excerpt:
The question of whether to use landscape to "capture" a moment, place, or light thereof, or whether to use it as a means to deliver personal self-expression, is one of the philosophical forks in the road for some landscape artists who choose one or the other. Kahn seems to be well aware of the question and quite satisfied not to answer it. Color can be subservient to place, or place subservient to color. Image can be subservient to abstraction, or abstraction subservient to image. All could have come from nature or from the artist's process. That's the game, so to speak. Find the painting.
I Enjoy Making Analogies Between Rock Climbing and Art Making, But Nobody Ever Gets It. I Do Them Anyway.