Recently, I stumbled into a post opening party where a number of fellow painters were squabbling over the the age old question of which paint tastes the best. If you’re not a painter you may not be aware of this long running argument. But, I suppose every subculture has its points of contention.
I’m sure even installation artist’s argue about something. I have no idea what that would be, nor frankly do I care, although I imagine it involves chocolate casting. I only think of installation artists every so often and then only to pity them or use them as the brunt of a particularly funny joke. I once saw a pair of them argue over a vintage Le Coq Sportif track suit. What was that about?! It’s possible that they were performance artists. I have trouble telling them apart. I only know that one of them articulates tedium in all three dimensions and the other doesn’t.
In any case now I’m off topic. Where was I? The best tasting paint! Yes. The best tasting paint is obviously Old Holland Cobalt Green Deep. I am snacking on a tube as I write this. You can’t go crazy with it due to it’s extreme toxicity but you’ll find no paint better suits a cold night in the studio. It’s complicated but not overbearing. It pairs fantastically with a Vodka & Dr. Pepper. It also has an opacity that few green paints share. You try covering with a Viridian!! But I suppose that’s another discussion entirely.
While I’m a sucker for Cobalt Green Deep I know there are a number of painters who feel otherwise. Nicole Eiseneman is crazy for Golden Acrylics’ Dioxazine Purple which I find oddly bitter and overly filling. We’ve clashed over this several times but she swears by it. Drinks it by the quart! Alex Katz too. Once he got that stuff all over my couch. (Little known fact, when Katz was poor and just starting out his paintings were 80% post digested paint. The rest was just the paint he couldn’t keep down.) Carol Dunham still works that way. He just grew to like the consistency. You know … in case you were wondering why his last show smelled like shit. And while Richard Philips claims to love Sennelier Cadmium Yellow I couldn’t help wondering if it was not in fact Winton Cadmium Yellow Hue we were being served the other night at his place. Dana Schutz will defend her gastronomic adoration of Indigo Extra to the death. Says it’s fortifying. And Luc Tuymans has developed a real taste for the “Conflict Colors” he gets though Colonel McCavoy “the Bastard Rhodesian” and his shadowy Sudan Network. He doesn’t seem to care what the color is so long as it’s “blood paint.”
I’m writing about this because I fear many of the younger generation are turning their backs on paint eating. I’ve heard that it’s all but died out at the Grad Schools. I recently had an awkward interaction at a studio visit that could have easily been avoided. The paint certainly looked as though it had been left out for me and I felt obligated to eat it. The student wasn’t nice about it either. God damn it! It wasn’t even paint I liked!!! So if you’re at school and none of the other painters are eating pigments maybe you should start. Don’t jump immediately into your cadmiums, cobalts or your lead whites. Try a nice earth color. A Caput Mort Violet or Venetian Red. If that doesn’t feel like enough, suck down a tube of Manganese Violet and wait for the kick. I find Manganese overblown but others like it (it was Cezanne’s favorite). And know that you are taking part in an ancient ritual. Sure, Video Artist’s can argue about cameras and lenses and editing systems but we have tradition. So crack open a tube of your favorite paint, wash it down with a couple of cold beers and wait for it to work it’s magic. You won’t be sorry you did. I, Jonathan Grossmalerman, promise you that. Do it.