Charles Broskoski is working on a very real interest in painterly abstraction and the legacy of this type of work.
However, he is not blind to the fact that in employing digitally automated “painterly” tools on a computer, he radically re-orients the launching-off point for a consideration of these works.
The negotiation of these tensions—abstraction and automation—is, one could say, where the work occurs.
In the current design of Broskoski’s personal website, the artist displays his most recent painting—in this case, a layering of long, wide, generally vertical “brushstrokes” in the airy style of the late de Kooning into the form of a primordial “ball”—a locus of energy, both budding and dying, aggressive and nervous, which calls to mind Philip Guston’s early abstractions (as well as a muddied take on the reds, greens, blues and blacks from Guston’s palette in these abstractions).
The bottom edges of this “ball” seem to “put the brakes on” in an act of inertia, curling in against a threat of pure formlessness.
And, at the top, the brushstrokes seem to be shooting upward (as in transcendence), but—in a reversal of the physics occurring at the bottom—suffer a smooshing down (as in gravity).
The result is a stormy mass of energy simultaneously expanding away from its self and contracting into its self.
It has a kick.
But—as a painting—it also lacks a kick.
First of all, the painting is created on a computer with a mouse and a suite of digital “effects” rather than paint and canvas.
This is just to say that, despite the work’s painting references, Broskoski is not moving his body around the computer as if it were “an arena in which to act.”
Rather, he’s staring into a screen, moving his wrist and fingers around a bit.
I suppose one could call this action, but it lacks the erotic, spiritual (not to mention macho) associations one conjures up in considerations of expressionist painting.
Additionally, Broskoski’s paint is not paint—it’s pixels.
And if it’s printed on paper, it’s still not paint—it’s ink “painted” automatically by a machine—a printer.
So, where does this leave one?
Is Broskoski either (a.) a “fake” painter trying to pass for “real,” or (b.) a smart ass?
Or is there is there something else going on here?
A clue may be found in the caption to the work (the title to the work?)—a sort of clock reading “7 days ago…”
“7 days ago…” refers to the amount of time past since Broskoski uploaded the painting to his site.
Yesterday it read “6 days ago…”
The day before “5 days ago…”
Tomorrow it will read “8 days ago…” or perhaps “1 week ago…”
And so on until Broskoski uploads another work, thus resetting the clock.
What this counter adds to the work is a whole new type of anxiety—and a whole new type of way to think of Broskoski’s paintings as possessing meaning.
Like Josh Smith, Broskoski and artists such as Harm van den Dorpel are re-examining the possibility of a certain sincerity in painterly expression, but doing so not in the individual painting (well, not primarily in the individual painting), but as a performance—in time.
The deeper kick of the work, the kick that makes one remember why they care about art, is in Broskoski’s on-going struggle with the possibility of meaningful creation in painting and in the computer and in painting on the computer.
As one returns to the site again and again and again and again, watching him upload new work, trying things out, performing his creation, one begins to see it.
It turns out that what the computer shows me is not space, but time; not the digital painting, but digital painting.
By: Jeff Baij