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An Unexpected Conflation of Music Abstraction and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

On Wednesday of last week I was recovering from a dental appointment enjoying lunch out and reading the latest edition of the New Yorker. In the “Talk of the Town” section I came across an article about the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot and how they were staging a gallery performance in Los Angeles that was a protest against Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. I guess I remember hearing of the group and the big commotion they made in 2001 in Moscow’s most important Orthodox Church protesting Putin’s ruthless regime and the Church’s complicity in his authoritarian rule. Since I really don’t care much for punk rock music I did not follow closely their trial and subsequent sentence to 2 years in a Siberian Penal Colony. It was the Ukrainian situation that this time really got my attention. I have written in this blog series about my battleground paintings that have followed the war for a year now. One room of my Abstracted Directions exhibition at the Yucca Valley Art Center is dedicated to my Ukrainian Invasion paintings and other battleground works.

After returning home I looked up more about the group, and about Nadya Tolokonnikova, an important founder of the collective. I quickly found the new video “Putin’s Ashes” on line. I could see it was shot most likely in the high desert near here. Being strongly anti-Putin myself, I began really listening, and because it is not punk rock music I realized I might make some new music abstractions listening to this difficult, painful soundscape. I did a small work, then another, and then moved on to a bigger abstraction. Crazy how the Pussy Riot Putin video performance inspired in me a new way to consider the war, which is, as I have said, on my mind. I agree with Nadya that Putin needs to be stoped and punished.

The works, see below, continue to lead me to new places. The backgrounds had been previously painted and were dry. The goopy black acrylic had just been rhythmically dripped on the works. In this case, I decided to add small glass beads and, because some of them landed on the already painted and dried surfaces, they did not stick and could be rolled into the wet edges all around them. I lightly shook the works and all the loose beads stuck along the edges of the black dribbles of still wet acrylic paint. Something new for my painting technique. Two out of three of these music abstractions are in Abstracted Directions.


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