NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 68
PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS SPREAD BY JOHN BERENS m
The Birth Of Jazz ( Point / Wave / Point ), 2015 Acrylic on canvas 45 ” by 173 ” by 3 ”
E-Stamp II The Black Butterfly : For Bobby Short , 2007 Acrylic on canvas 48 ” by 48 ”
Homecoming : For Miles , 1992 Acrylic on canvas 105 1 ⁄ 2 ” by 81.2 ”
Except for the fun of sex , drugs , jazz and rock n ’ roll , the 1960 ’ s in New York City were painful for everybody , Black or White . I spent the 60 ’ s working through my emotionally and psychologically draining pursuit of Black identity as subject in painting . By the end of the 60 ’ s , I had to find another way to paint . In 1970 , I constructed a large 12-foot x 20-foot heavy-duty drawing board on the studio floor . It was made of 2x4 ’ s with 16-inch centered honeycombed substructure covered with ¾ inch construction grade plywood topped off with a layer of industrial-grade linoleum . It was built absolutely level and square . A large 12-foot wide tool also of 2x4 ’ s , which I called ‘ the developer ’ was used to spread large quantities of acrylic paint with an exact measurable thickness of ¼ inch , ⅜ inch and so on . My objective was to construct a slab of acrylic paint . This slab of paint was the beginning of a conceptualized method of painting that continues to this day . Naming my 12-foot wide tool ‘ the developer ’ was a conscious nod to photography , as analogous to painting . “ The image is photographic ; therefore , I must photograph my thoughts ” was written on my studio wall in 1964 . I maintain that photography has been the major influence on painting . It was the invention of photography that gave painters the freedom to explore the inner space of the mind .