Responding to Beethoven by Leslie Blackmon - 3D virtual exhibition by Touchstone Gallery

Responding to Beethoven by Leslie Blackmon

Thu, 01/07/2021 to Mon, 02/01/2021

curated by:

These paintings are pure response to sound, specifically Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C Minor -- the "Pathetique." Although I have explored response to the non-visual in the past, this was my first exploration of responding to sound. I chose Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 because I played this piece of music as a teenager, at a time when I was studying classical piano and preparing for a senior recital. It is an important part of my past -- hardwired into me, although I am unable to play it now, having given up my studies years ago. Painting my response to this music was a way to tap back into my past and to bring to my paintings a vitality that I could not have achieved with a more randomly chosen favorite piece of music. The paintings are largely painted "blind" in order to get the purest response to the music. I did not look at the surface while making any of the marks in these works. I confess that I did at first "cheat" a bit and look but, interestingly, the marks that came forth in those moments were failures, and so the urge to cheat quickly dissipated. I did stop routinely at pauses between the movements in the Sonata -- to assess what had appeared, whether the painting was finished, which area seemed to call for more attention in the next pass, and what tool or color would best achieve the marks or textures needed in the next round. The works on yupo alternate layers of black painted strokes with layers of scrapes of the palette knife yielding white marks on the slick yupo surface. Most of the yupo paintings were finished after six to ten blind passes. Only one seemed finished after a single pass. The painting on canvas is much more thickly layered than the yupo pieces.

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