Kawara’s precise and disciplined process involves a series of steps that take place over the course of hours and bring to fruition an immaculate final product, as in the current example. He did not create a painting every day, but some days he would make two or even three. If a painting was not finished by midnight, he would destroy it. The immaculate surface of the present work is the result of a precise and time-consuming process by which Kawara meticulously builds up and then reduces layers of acrylic paint to produce a flawless surface. First, he carefully applies four coats of paint to the surface of the canvas, each given time to dry before slowly being rubbed down in preparation for the subsequent layer. On the surface, outlines of text are carefully stenciled and filled in with several coats of white paint, and through the use of tapered brushes, a set-square and an X-Acto blade, the text is rendered in a quasi-mechanical style. This exacting method of execution makes the creation of each painting an exercise in meditation. Focusing on not just the ‘now’ but also the ‘here’, Kawara further anchors the human experience of time into reality through the inclusion of newspaper clippings from the day and city in which the work was created.
Underneath the uniform and seemingly impassive surface lies an existential angst upon which the viewer can meditate. The formal simplicity of Kawara's aesthetic combined with the complexity of his execution produces a multifaceted work, rich in resonance and meaning. As Kawara limits his presence to a great extent, the viewer is encouraged to imbue the work with their own memories and personal experiences associated with the date rendered on the canvas. This collision of the artist’s personal experience and that of the viewer renders the present work as a physical totem of the collective human experience.
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