July 11, 2012
The Romance of Worn Surfaces
How much of our response to the textures of old surfaces is colored by sentimentality, an excessive longing for the past, or is something else part of it? To me, these patches of rust randomly scattered across paled red and orange paint are beautiful.
Beautiful too, is wrought iron on weathered wood, a more appealing subject. Am I, are we, able to separate a purely visual response from all the feelings old things call up: a sense of loss, thoughts of the people who used these objects and left their imprint on them?
Perhaps there is less sentiment involved when looking at objects not ordinarily thought beautiful; but then again, the aged surfaces, the variation of colors and textures can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.
Words and letters are subsumed into the general surface, becoming ghostly.
Subtle shifts of warm rusted colors react richly with the cool blue and green of more freshly painted areas.
To be honest, I can't quite tease out my own feelings about this. The reds wandering across the cool metal touched with rust, alongside the incredible intensity of the mottled orange, give me joy in color and in tactility. When I go out looking for painting motifs, I am usually repelled by the reflections of shiny new farm machines, which seem cold and hard, so I look only at older machines. I think of myself as responding purely visually, but perhaps there is also the sense of life lived and worked, a feeling of history that is embedded in old things that adds to their meaning; maybe that feeling is not sentimental.