Having written about an encaustic artist pouring out grief yesterday, I’d like to introduce you to a very different artist using the same media. I’ve known Carey Corea for more than twenty years. He is a man of great presence but few words. That fits with his work, which is also often completely non-narrative. That by no means should be taken to mean that it is content-free.
Non-representational painters seem to be able to conjure up sturm und drang without too much difficulty. Realism allows artists to use symbols and memories to elicit responses. Abused, both can be cheap tricks. To paint a measured, serene, evocative and beautiful abstraction with no props is very difficult, and it can teach the realist painter a lot about truth-telling in art.
Corea’s work is characterized, above all, by an evenness of temperament. That’s a reflection of the artist himself. “I’ve come to view my paintings as meditations or conversations centered on the interplay between substance and spirit,” he wrote.
As with Jules Olitsky’s Mitt Paintings, the material is doing the heavy lifting here, but in Corea’s work there is content beyond the surface. It is, in fact, too deep to have a surface narrative applied to it.
His painting is characterized by technical virtuosity, meticulousness and absolute control. That may be the result of a lifetime career in the world of graphic design, but I think it also represents his character.
Our age denigrates the importance of beauty in art, but it is an important tool to distract us from an ugly world.