Film by Eric Minh Swenson.
Since the early 1980’s Lang has explored his Circles in concert with his Word Work, begun in the early 70’s. This exhibit is the first time the Words will be installed along with Lang’s Circles in a gallery. The Circles and the Words combine seemingly opposing elements: the rational and the emotional, the harmonic and the dissonant, and a high degree of controlled randomness.
Lang is deeply devoted to the physical act of painting: that creative period when he focuses exclusively on the subtle interaction of brush, hand, paint and canvas. Lang states, “I ensure a free mind while applying paint to surface.” From a distance, all of his works appear to be precisely painted, almost machine-made, but up-close they are distinctly hand-made. In planning and executing the Circle Paintings, Lang first selects his palette, devising a chart to determine, or to use Lang’s word “navigate”, their sequence within the composition. “I do this preliminary work to eliminate the burden of mind while touching the surface with pigment.”
Using these charts, simple mathematical models, and logic at the preparatory stage thus frees Lang to be “hyper-present” when painting. The process introduces a degree of chance and the unexpected into his works, which Lang relates to both musical compositions (especially the works and writings of John Cage) and the ambient sounds we hear everyday. When he was in his late teens, Lange began taping the random sounds he heard at home and while traveling. Seeking to depict in paint those indiscriminate passages of sound and silence, he invented numerous ways to introduce chance, lyricism, textures, and rhythms into his painting– a process that can extend over many months on a given work.
Lang’s concepts relate most closely to marks and symbols that Paul Klee used in his paintings and drawings during the early 20th century, and the origins of trance works witnessed in the primal marks and geometry of Paleolithic sites in Europe and petroglyphs in California.
The tradition of circle paintings is indelibly linked to the symbolism of the circle itself. As a sign of perfection, unity, wholeness, infinity, and cosmic order among many other associations, circle paintings date from pre-historic times. The circular composition or tondo became common in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when artists (particularly Botticelli and Raphael) utilized the shape to focus the viewer’s attention on center.
“The Words help me unravel and process the horror and magic of people. The Circles have always been a vehicle for drawing the future my way while expanding the present... a kind of tow rope to eternity.”
For more info on Eric Minh Swenson or project inquiries visit his website: thuvanarts.com. You can also visit the art film series page at thuvanarts.com/take1.