Paintings by Ethan Cranke

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Artist Statement and Biography

Artist Statement-  
Only after the painting has happened upon its own “natural” composition, via extemporaneous application, reduction, and deconstruction, neither painted from life nor one particular resource photo (more so being a “collage of the mind,” if you will), do I begin to initiate focal points by adding more brilliant chroma. When initiating focal points via chroma, I often choose extremely strong and vibrant colors; colors like sevres blue, permanent green, and cobalt violet. Although I am an artist from California, I would say it is the ubiquity of the West Coast Colorist palette that keeps me from using it, anymore. Where the intentions of the 1950’s action painters and my own intentions run divergent, is that I do not “discard traditional aesthetic references as irrelevant.” Such restrictions seem rather absurd and unnecessarily limiting in scope, when applied to present aesthetic concerns(especially my own). Being that we truly live in the age of “anything goes,” to place such limitations upon one’s aesthetic is an antiquated strategy. To “exercise in (my)himself a constant No.” is to deny myself any chance of transmutation, and to be condemned to endless repetition. This runs contrary to my aesthetic goals.
     Harmonious scenes, pleasing color combinations, i.e. “believable” but still obviously made with paint, are my preference. I would say that although I am fully capable of making paintings that disguise the fact that they were made with paint, this is not my forte. As has always been the case, I inherently gravitate towards painterly paintings when visiting galleries and museums. Yes, I could design paintings in Photoshop, or on an Ipad, and print them out, or show them on a display screen(and I can see myself doing this when I am older, and no longer physically able to navigate a panel), but I still have much to do with paint, first. In a world where everyone walks around in their own little bubble, there is a tactility to paint that I think many daily routines lack. A completely hand made work of art, from the making of the panel to the laying on of paint, results in the type of object that I think becomes more and more important in a world of hyper-reproduction, and virtual living.
     I like paintings that remove me from the noise that we are surrounded by. I find David Hockney’s work, in his further continuance of classic motifs, integrated within contemporary archetypes of gesture, color preferences, as well as narrative content to be exemplary, and seek to achieve something similar. He ignores aesthetic trends, while maintaining a perpetually contemporary feel to his work. Unafraid to paint completely non-representationally in one painting, then a landscape in the next, a portrait, and so on. Like Hockney, I know that it is important to embrace the current time within which I reside, while maintaining constant awareness of lessons from those who have preceded me in the past. Gerhard Richter is also someone whom I admire and take influence from, in his willingness to go where the aesthetic initiative takes him, also unconcerned with fashionable trends, and more concerned with the transmutation of himself as a painter and artist in general. His content is his own, and no one categorizes him into any genre of painting, other than, painting. This modus operandi, with regards to his transmutation as an artist, is where I take my cues from.
     After looking at my paintings, I would like the viewer to walk away with a quiet moment, where their brain stops crunching links, apps, appointments, etc., where they are able to remember what it is like to think clearly, and let the mind absorb. My goal is to stop them in their tracks, for them to enjoy the fact that I got them to shut up, if even just for a second.
Artist's Biography- 
Born in San Francisco, Ethan Cranke was raised in Sonoma County, both aesthetically and intellectually, on the values prominently associated with Northern California. With an emphasis on free-spirited creativity that is anchored in a devotion to nature and humanity, Ethan conveys what is around and inside of him almost exclusively through the medium of oil paint. Ethan has painted ever since he can remember. His intentions became serious when he first encountered his earliest mentor, Elfi Chester. She was a good friend and a great painter, whose advice he has dearly missed since she passed away July 16, 2004. She made clear that it was perfectly viable for a person to spend their life as a professional artist, rather than as a hobbyist. He left the comforts of the West Sonoma County redwoods, in 1997, to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. There he was allowed to thoroughly explore his medium, mostly under the guidance of Bruce McGaw (of the Bay Area Figurative Movement) and Jeremy Morgan. Having returned to Sonoma County in 2002, he has been painting full time at his Guerneville studio ever since.

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