by Bonnie Fuoco
Let's Paint

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There were innumerable restatements of the laws during Hofmann’s many years as a teacher. He was a legendary and archetypal teacher and he seems to have painted the way he taught: generous, direct, searching, uncompromising. He shared with his students the belief that they had something, “a secret,” and that is what they must paint. He painted his secret.

In Asklepios (Asklepios was the Greek god of healing) volcanic layers of blue, red and purple appear. His brush drags the red paint down, over and up creating an end zone for spindly shapes. The brush spins over a little sunrise of yellow then drags down again. Patches of exploding white and head like shapes create a base. All the unfamiliar markings and figures hold their places, vibrate, and tremble. Something is occurring.

Painting is about feeling deeply and Hofmann felt deeply about the language of painting and its ability to transform. The painter can’t imitate. Only God can make a tree. Attempting to “make” a tree, or anything else on canvas goes against the nature of painting. Illusionistic realism doesn’t really do what painting needs and wants to do. Painting wants to be alive and real in the sense that fields and rivers and mountains and people are alive.

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Background: Asklepios