Beneath the White Sea . 48 x 46 inches . Acrylic and collage on canvas . March 2016
For the past few years, the music of The National has been the most influential sound in my studio, often a single album being repeated three or four times in a single art-making session. At times, this band remained the exclusive soundtrack, as illustrated by a private commission piece from 2013 titled “American Mary” after the song of the same name. Lyrics like “Give yourself to anyone, give yourself away” and “If I could, I’d be your star again, Fall across your falling sky…” subsequently or perhaps subconsciously vibrating within my creative output.
On February 19, 2016, Ben Lanz from Beirut, along with Bryan and Scott Devendorf of the National, released the self-titled album LNZNDRF. It instantly resonated. With 8 tracks and a running time of just over 42 minutes it became the musical force behind this new canvas. The trance-like “Motorik” drumming style and lush sound landscapes along with slightly obscured longing vocals set a pace and a cadence.
Coinciding with my desire to use larger typeface on my larger canvases, my discovery of old Letraset dry transfer letters from the 1980’s, and a nod towards Kurt Schwitters’ MERZ Pictures - a collage series from the 1920’s, the name of the band (seemingly obscured by the lack of vowels) found it’s way directly onto the canvas early in the development of this piece.
Jump back a few years to May 5, 2013. The National paired with Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson at MOMA PS1 and repeatedly played their song Sorrow for six straight hours (a total of about 105 times…) in an installation piece titled A Lot of Sorrow. Perhaps as some sort of homage to that work, or simply as an experiment, I decided to create “Beneath the White Sea” whilst listening to LNZNDRF repeatedly for the duration of the process, keeping track of how many times I listened to the album.
On March 29, 2016, the painting was completed, and LNZNDRF had 27 complete plays while in the studio.