Jan 24, 2018 · 5 min read
Paul Maziar, SHADOWS FLOWERING (2017), brush and ink drawing based on a Jennifer Kietzman photo

If I could make the world as pure
And strange as what I see
I’d put you in a mirror
I’d put in front of me

— “Pale Blue Eyes” by Lou Reed

In keeping with Warhol’s urge out of Modernism, it could be said that Lou Reed’s was an urge out of, away from, our own reflections. Simple, strange, and, like Cage and also Rauschenberg, these practices are less about singularity than about multiplicity, collaboration, and even, maybe, togetherness.

David Lynch’s politics makes an appearance in Twin Peaks Season II in absurd and surreal scenes, making a case for meaningful stripes of absurdism. And he doesn’t have to choose, or be dumb. One example is when Laura Palmer’s mother handles the Truck-You perv by taking her face off and de-necking the cur with her mind.

I realized that I could stack all the colors together, and not move the air.
— Stanley Whitney


I don’t know whether The Dream catching my teenage imagination had anything to do with its creator (didn’t hear tell of his fame, only saw the strangeness of what he’d made), and don’t think it would’ve changed my reaction, its power, if I had learned of its context. The interrupted face with closed eyes, the unaccountable six fingers, the reverie all told, “ecstasy” I’d then thought, and the fact of its being hung on its own in the living room all added to my extended, dedicated study of its aspect. “Key to art story” the note-to-self reads. The ineffable in art is what persists, keeps on drawing me in, to do the idiotic job of trying to use words about it.

Well, is it ordinary or specialized? and in either case, what needs to be added to it then? What really needs attending? Must be wrong words. Wrong world.

Music that sounds like it can be sung in sunglasses is either anathema or required today.

James Joyce either wrote all of his books in his bathrobe, or he didn’t.


Merde = merdre
Ergo, for Barbara Wright, shit = shitr, [but maybe it ought to be shitt?

Class division as exemplified in airplane seating (by capital), an everyday failure of a system where anything can and will be paid for or off — from positions (also chairs, recliners, hammocks, Eameses) to presidencies.


What makes an image memorable, important, worth your time, makes you look? I wonder how many paintings someone can really look at in the span of a day, or what it would be like to somehow overdose on art. It seems to be the case that now — in the information age, and thanks to sites like Instagram — the ubiquity of images seems stronger than ever and here to stay. But it isn’t. I don’t think that the current image glut is bad per se, but for the sake of collecting, competition, boredom, compulsion, and marketing, not a great thing either. In “The Continuing Story of Life on Earth,” the photo-journal Hamburger Eyes takes ordinary daily-life scenarios and casts them in the stark, no-frills black-and-white that has ramped up the allure of photographs since their invention, but, and somehow, very Contemporary. They show life that looks both as it does only in dreams — in black and white — and as in shocking or devastating, lurid, boozy or druggy, windblown, maybe nightmarish scenes that occur in certain corners of the world, or on I guess I mean.

A man walks away from the bus he’s just deboarded, to stop for a moment to look with curiosity at the public sculpture on the sidewalk: a really plainspoken stylized bronze sculpture of a flop-eared dog beside what appears to be a pastiche of an Egyptian goddess. His looking doesn’t last too long, and before he can get far, he stops for the same intent gaze for the same duration, to look at a crumpled soda can left behind on a bus bench, flanked by a whole, uneaten, spotless (itself almost stylized) and otherwise everyday banana.

humanity and nature, not separate, are in this world together … nothing was lost when everything was given away.
— John Cage


The way that the surreal always ends up being the simple, the ordinary set to new contexts, arrangements, scales. Not the lizard kind. Like life, lifelike. Strange normal forms. My kind of forces. Scenes with grandeur of the naked eye. Glamorized aspect of looking back (but don’t look back). Night. The enlarged quality. Like the way we experience the world, moment to moment in life. Very intense moments in the present, or else in past situations re-encountered, through memory, imagination. It makes you the viewer turn to space.

presence aerates life …
solid world with luminosity
— Nathaniel Dorsky

for Jake Manning

Infinite questions, limitations
We don’t know
The picture isn’t finished
Buffalo you
Get it all in
A swarm of ants could be a moment
Beethoven also had ten digits
Satie me a bouquet of umbrellas
Right track gets lost
Pictures come out different
Dread yeah, but also non-dread

What am I even looking at
It’s the whole gang
Still lifes
Just returned
Eighty or so grams of blue pigment
Wishy-washy rain
A window on the town
It wasn’t a first
As far as appearances go
Passage is the oldest motif
I know no more than this



There is always a precedent.
— David Abel

Philip Guston’s idea that, during composition, “all are there” — as in present ideas, memories, feelings, wills, the dull and exciting world with you and all your work, gels. Insistence that art, poetry, creative work bear a narrowly specified urge related to fear, hatred, etc., issues laid bare without the tension or suspension that let’s a viewer in through another door, from the rest, somehow doesn’t. Strangely, what’s purported to be open can really seem instead very closed, aggressive. I guess then too, “if you’re lucky, even you leave.” And with the complications of living today, I’ll contradict this within a week.

This exhibition (apt here from etymonline: literally “hold out, hold forth,” from ex “out”) is a lavish display that bears a smattering of disparate things a wealthy person might have possession of: old clocks and candlesticks; vases and vitrines from China and elsewhere; and then a half-roomful of drawings and paintings from India — the whole of which, when jammed together, amounts to a showing of an unrelatable opulence, for some other time, for some other world that’s not quite this one. And still, relation depends on who’s doing the viewing; all aren’t me.

What to do with all those dead ends?
— Norma Cole



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short reviews & occasional works @rrealism_ http://artsletters.org/writing



short reviews + occasional pieces by paul maziar

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