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Sam Gilliam, Luminary


LYRICAL ABSTRACTION

When I look at Sam Gilliam's art, I feel.  
 I feel emotions that don't have words.
Elegy # 2, by Sam Gilliam, 1980
How do I "read" the language of Elegy #2?  (cause it is talking to me!)   
Color & Texture

Color
Gray offers a calm respite from the mayhem of yellow and deep blue fighting for attention.  Reading the work from left to right I see three different panels with somber black painted dead smack in the middle of the left.  Raucous reds and blues in the middle, running, escaping to the right side -- this is what moves me most. This isn't our ideal of beautiful, instead Elegy #2 offers a glimpse of  the art of the sublime that philosophers Burke and Kant wrote about.

Texture
As an artist I appreciate the technical genius of this handmade paper.  In several areas, the whole is divided into sections by sharply angled embossed textures, offering rough and smooth surfaces, suggesting moods.  I am not sure if the embossed textures were created when the fibers were formed (while it was wet pulp) or after the sheet was dry.  However, if the texture was created during the wet pulp stage, then this is more amazing.  Paper is malleable, yes, but when it is wet, it is still fragile and can easily tear.  Also, it's easy to lose the embossed textures once you begin monoprinting and applying oils and drawing on the paper.   

I could go on, however I think this is enough to get a sense of how Sam Gilliam's art moves me.  After all, everyone experiences art in his own way.

According to Spaightwood Galleries, Elegy # 2 is part of a mixed media series of 4 monoprints on thick handmade paper printed at the Jones Road Print Shop with William Weege in 1980.
Elegy 2, Sam Gilliam, 1980 (detail)
It is my pleasure to introduce Sam Gilliam.

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