Meet Woody Cornwell. This is him schooling me on a territory he would perhaps prefer to leave "un-schooled", if you will. Said territory is abstract painting, an expression of undisclosed inspirations and drive, and might I add happily undisclosed. Aiming to weave together experiences and interpretations while simutaniously inviting the grind of varied results, Cornwell has prepared works for "It's Mutual", his homecoming art show of sorts in Castleberry's Nelson Street Gallery. BANG! asked him some questions, here's what he said back.
BANG! You’ve noted that one of the reasons you like abstract painting is because it’s okay to come in without an understanding of it. Do you think viewers should leave with one, though?
Woody Cornwell Thats gonna happen whether I like it or not. Its really more of a pain in the ass but I'm not going to say to someone "you just don't get it". That wouldn't be at all considerate. I hope the viewer leaves with some connection or interest in the work. I've been doing this for awhile and there is a history of mine in the context of abstract painting. There is also a nature to this type of painting that is difficult to pin down. But I would never say to someone they "should" anything.
BANG! While your paintings are open for interpretation by nature, is there a point you are trying to get across with specific pieces?
Woody Cornwell By "point" I assume you mean a bottom line of some sort. I wish it was that easy, but I recognize that I cannot really control the interpretation of my work after it leaves the studio. I'd rather not have lengthy descriptions next to each piece. I don't want to coerce the viewer. Not yet at least.
BANG! Do you think that there is conflict or disruption in abstract painting in general or in your pieces specifically?
Woody Cornwell Not generally. The frustration has to do with the need for some viewers to seek a specific resolution of visual cues or references. Its not a script or some check list. I understand viewers are eager to know how they are to interpret it...how to use it but this can be frustrating when they get something akin to an approximation.
BANG! Do ideas that you focus toward a piece have to be conflicting, or is that how they just usually end up with your methodology?
Woody Cornwell Maybe "conflicting" is too strong a word. Its closer to a playfulness with form that is ambiguous, suggestive, created and then destroyed..clarified...questioned.
BANG! Why do you choose to paint on such massive apparatuses?
Woody Cornwell I guess you mean surfaces? I work on all types of surfaces and sizes.
BANG! Could you expound on the “meaning exists between the evidence and intent of painting these objects” statement?
Woody Cornwell Yeah, that sounds like some crime story title, eh? What I'm saying is to hang onto intentions exclusively is overrated and a slippery slope. Then there is the actual physicality of the materials. I'd rather have more of a sense of humor about this and paraphrase Duchamp, "what an artist intended to realize and actual did realize is like a gap between unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed".
BANG! You’ve said before that not all paintings need to have a prescribed meaning behind them, but if there isn’t one, what should the piece’s place be?
Woody Cornwell In your home where you can live with it meet me half way in a mutual exchange. Know what I mean?
So, maybe you're still confused. That's okay. Come out and take a crack at it, whatever you figure out is your's to hold and gawk at. "It's Mutual" runs from May 10th until June 1st at Nelson Street Gallery. For more information click here.