Get down to 14th Street this weekend.
Not that there aren’t already tons of reasons to stroll the design district, but Gallery Plan B is exhibiting the works of Baltimore artist Greg Minah, and it ends Sunday. What really amazes me about this particular artist is that he paints without brushes. His mesmerizing, swirly designs are the product of up to 70 layers of poured and spun paint. He pours, then picks up the canvas, spins it around, up and down, waits for it to dry, and then pours again. And again. And again.
He first started playing with this technique at an art residency at the Joshua Tree National Park in 2008. “There was never a conscious decision to start turning and tilting the paintings to mimic the weird, flowing rock formations out there, but it does seem to have somehow affected me,” he writes in an e-mail. “The shape that the paint leaves when removed after a pour very closely resembles patterns and shapes like this found in nature.”
He works on three to six paintings at a time, and because there is so much layering, they can take three to six months to complete. Sometimes, he says, when he’s stuck on what color to use, or what type of pour and spin to employ, he goes to Photoshop. He takes a picture of where he is so far, and then plays with different colors or patterns on the computer screen until he sees something he likes:
“I have a file with dozens of different ‘pour templates’ that I’ve taken from old paintings—whenever I made a nice big, well-defined pour, I’ll isolate it digitally and add it to this file of templates. I can then drag over a pour template and then alter and mess with every aspect of it—hue, saturation, lightness, etc. I can also morph the shape, spin it around until I feel like I’m onto something, and then go back to the painting table, where I carefully mix paint to match the color of what I’ve made on Photoshop and prepare the paint for the pour.”
Here’s a look at his process—you can literally watch the paint dry.
He thins acrylic paint and mixes them in cups that he keeps at the ready for each layer:
And before he pours, he tests out each color on a canvas on the wall, to determine how fast it will travel down when applied:
A 2009 review in The Washington Post noted that Greg’s paintings “infuse the legacy of the Washington Color School with a vigorous, Jackson Pollock-y energy.” You can really see that here!
Knowing what goes into the paintings really make you look at them in a new way.
I love what he has to say about the combined forces of gravity and creativity in his work: