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Phillip Guston

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There are so many things to paint in the world – in the cities – so much to see. Does art need to represent this variety and contribute to its proliferation? Can art be that free? The difficulties begin when you understand what it is that the soul will not permit the hand to make. To paint is always to start at the beginning again, yet being unable to avoid the familiar arguments about what you see yourself painting. The canvas you are working on modifies the previous ones in an unending, baffling chain which never seems to finish. (What sympathy is demanded of the viewer! He is asked to 'see' the future links.
--
ARTnews Annual, October 1966, pp. 102/103 and 152/153

 
Phillip Guston

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I don’t like that word 'finish'. When something is finished, that means it’s dead, doesn’t it? I believe in everlastingness. I never finish a painting – I just stop working on it for a while. I like painting because it’s something I never come to the end of. Sometimes I paint a picture, then I paint it all out. Sometimes I’m working on fifteen or twenty pictures at the same time. I do that because I want to – because I like to change my mind so often. The thing to do is always to keep starting to paint, never finishing painting.(1947)

 
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There is imagery. Symbolism is a difficult idea. I’m not a symbolist. In other words, these are painting experiences. I don’t decide in advance that am going to paint a definite experience, but in the act of painting, it becomes a genuine experience for me. It’s not symbolism any more than it’s calligraphy. I’m not painting bridge constructions, skyscrapers or laundry tickets.. ..I don’t paint a given object – a figure or a table; I paint an organization that becomes a painting.. ..it’s not these things that get me started on a painting.. (1958)

 
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