POTEET VICTORY: Abbreviated Portrait Series ... ABBR PORT SRS ... ABBR PORT ... ABS
The celebrity photos in this article were not provided by nor used by the artist while painting the portraits ...they were found subsequently by the author of this article.
Not everyone appreciates Poteet Victory's candid and direct personality, but it is difficult not to admire the resolute and constant energy he has devoted to authenticity in both his personal life and his work. His fresh and unconventional manner were a sort of fascination to the more 'sophisticated' principals of the New York art scene when Poteet studied at the Art Students League in the early 1980's. Harold Stevenson, Poteet's mentor (who painted the controversial The New Adam now in the Guggenheim's permanent collection), made the introductions to Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and others. (Poteet and Stevenson are both from Idabel, Oklahoma.)
Harold, one of 'The New Realists' (a pop-art movement during the 1960's), helped Andy Warhol get his first exhibition, and often invited Poteet to join their groups of notables as he knew Poteet would shock and delight with his unorthodox interjections. This facet of Poteet's personality has fueled thirty years of painting. Often, artists are susceptible to influence by the world of commercialism, 'artspeak' (as Poteet puts it), critics (or admirers).
Poteet has remained unaffected.
THE MAKING OF AN ICON
Poteet has contemplated the idea of producing abstract portraits for some time. It seemed a simple task--abstracting a subject--and Poteet had worked with this process for years on his canvases. This time it was a different challenge for him, his intention not to abstract the image of a person, but instead, a 'hint' of that person. Just enough to trigger the memory of the viewer. This seemed to Poteet to be a uniquely progressive idea. His experience was that of "wading out into the sea of normal understanding of abstract painting about waist deep, when suddenly, my feet felt nothing beneath them as I stepped off the submerged shelf and 'whoosh'...down I went into another level I hadn't known before."
Poteet has long been fascinated by the innovations of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Kandinsky and others who explore the power of symbols and colors. He recognizes the universal language of archetypal images and iconography and explains this as a kind of "connection to the soul." He is enthralled with the idea that it isn't necessary to paint the painting for the viewer when the viewer "already knows what it looks like." He merely offers the viewer a reminder of the memory that already exists. He knows that the mind will do the rest-giving the viewer a more accurate image and experience than a representational painting could. This is the first time that the viewer brings more to the painting than the artist does.
Poteet recognizes that our mind remembers everything in the abstract. Initially, he became aware that he was seeing these iconic people (such as Marilyn Monroe), first as a color and then in simple shapes, distilled to the purest form.
Paul Cezanne wrote, "The eye is not enough, one needs to think as well." As Poteet describes, "Reality is created in the mind. Cezanne gives the viewer just enough information that the images emerge, not from the painting itself, but from somewhere inside the viewers' mind. Cezanne's paintings are an indicator of HOW we see. Light may excite the retina, but what kind of information excites the mind? Gertrude Stein thought that a Cezannepainting, whether finished or unfinished, always looked like the essence of the subject, because enough elements were there.
Before we can interpret our sensations we have to apply our memories to them.
My challenge is to express the essence of a subject knowing that the viewer has the same set of references in their mind that I do. All the viewer needs are subtle cues.
Recently it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with an image that people do with text messages in terms of condensing words or phrases to a minimum of letters...and suddenly, there was Marilyn."
PROUST WAS A NEUROSCIENTIST
Art often reflects literature, music, social science, science and the politics of the specific time period in which it is created. Indeed, throughout history there are remarkable parallels between movements in art and advancements in science.
For example: Kepler's ellipses and the elliptical structures of the Baroque; Newton's experiments with the prism involving light entering a room via a narrow aperture and the Dutch interest in the way light enters domestic interiors and their use of the camera obscura; the notion of quanta of light and Seurat's pursuit of pointillism and subsequent impact on modern color printing technology; the idea of coordinate patches in relativity and the spatial dislocations of Cezanne; the unity of space and time in relativity and Picasso and other Cubists' succession of temporal views across space....the list goes on.
It is interesting that in the list above, the revolution in art precedes that in science by a decade or so. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky stated that "the artist is not ahead of his time, the public are behind theirs."
Poteet continues to be astounded when he asks others what first comes to mind regarding a particular person. Consistently, the answer is exactly the same as his...red and white polka dots for Lucille Ball, tan or brown for John Wayne, piercing blue eyes for Paul Newman, sunglasses or arched eyebrow for Jack Nicholson, etc.
Poteet: Creating the Abbreviated Portraits has made me aware that everyone has triggers that activate memory, often based on the simplest cue. Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein experimented with this phenomenon with words and sentences. Santiago Ramon y Cajal, 1906 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, suggests that our memories exist as subtle shifts in the strengths of synapses, which makes it easier for neurons to communicate with each other. Cajal was correct. Marcel Proust anticipated this phenomenon when he wrote of the memories that were evoked for him by the smell and taste of a Madeleine cookie. Every object produces an emotional charge that is memory-that emotion is often more real than a detailed explanation.
Every brilliant experiment, like every great work of art, starts with an act of imagination.
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