Historically linked to a movement that championed nontraditional subjects in art such as the subconscious and the spontaneity of the gesture, Tworkov uniquely maintained an almost religious studio regimen of drawing from the live model. While the Abstract Expressionist group, of which Tworkov was a leading figure, was known for its aversion to representational art and the figure, Tworkov himself felt no allegiance to any particular pictorial style or school. In fact, he went to great lengths to discover and rediscover himself as an artist and this included an ongoing study of the human form.
A journal entry from June 24, 1954 written while at Indiana University, offers insight into the subject, emotion, and philosophy of this series of paintings—a diabolical, otherworldly scene of a lone figure walking through a wall of flames:
“The artist would like to build a real fire, and without tricks or asbestos suits or previous training, walk right through it and come out alive. It’s definitely a proposition for angels […]”
Three days later Tworkov returned to his journal writing:
“There is a direct connection between these dreams and moods and the actual impulse to create. I had a bad night last night—in my dreams and in that uncontrollable current of vague thought, fancy, longing, hurt, disappointment, I suffered somehow diminution of ego. But this morning I worked remarkably well—a painting that had been going badly come to life. My ego position is restored.”
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