January 7, 2011

A New Painting: "Red Construction".

Red Construction, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 2 panels each 5 x 5 inches.

My first painting of the new year is a diptych, a pair of red and black paintings, each with many overlapping and adjacent flat planes, punctuated by bolts and holes. I chose to emphasize this structure by having two panels, as the jump between them pushes the eye around on interesting pathways. I simplified the images quite a lot from their original source, eliminating details in the blacks, making all the colored surfaces red. I think this makes the experience of looking at the painting a more abstract one, as shape takes precedence over naturalistic detail.

Above are the two panels, right and left. And below is a painting by Liubov Popova, one of my favorite of the Russian painters of the revolutionary period. While working on Red Construction, I was thinking of the Suprematists, such as Popova and Malevich, and my title is an homage to their work. My next blog post will be on the work of Popova.

Liubov Popova, Painterly Architectonic, 1916; oil on board; 23 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches.


  1. these are really fun to look at as a pair, dynamic, the pairing makes the eye move & the punctuation is beautiful. the red is going to look a little different on every screeen of course, so I wonder what the real red is for them...

  2. this is a great start to the year, Altoon--beautiful pair. Would you frame them together as a diptych?

  3. I have always been fascinated by how a cast shadow, something so ethereal, can change the shape of something so solid. Beautiful paintings.

  4. Thanks all, glad you like this work.
    rappel: I fiddled with the red for a long time to get it to look right on my screen, but of course there's no way to control for everyone else's. It's a saturated red, a little cool, from using Cadmium red deep and middle to mix it.
    Susan: I never frame works, but they will be hung together, just like you see them on the screen.
    ski: thanks for noticing the shadows. I always go out to look for motifs on sunny days because I love the way shadow and sunlight change a surface and enrich the color.

  5. A lovely start to the year. I have to admit that I was mentally adding a black line to fill the white bar between the two images. I am always looking for the tension between any two pieces ... whether individual shapes or the whole painting.

  6. Thank you, Linda. I realize that it can be confusing seeing a diptych online; that blank space doesn't really read as a space between panels. I hope to do more diptychs in the future, as I too like that tension.