Organic imagery has captivated most of my artistic career. This is in part to my feeling very close to nature and wanting to honor its marvels and mysteries. The other reason for using an organic foundation in my work has to do with the fact that very early on (late 1950’s) I fell in love with Cubism. I did study Cubistic principles and still use them now and then in my work, but in the early 1960’s I made a choice to attempt to do what Cubism did, using instead Organic principles. In essence I was taking Cubistic theories and using them to create what I called back then “Organism”.
Early on Organism dealt with death and decomposing matter. The figures I would draw and paint had decaying flesh (at times showing the skeletal structure underneath) on them and some were influenced by Francis Bacon’s organic approach. I saw Bacon’s work as the ideal response to Cubism, using organic principles as he painted his tortured human faces. His tormented souls also influenced my work thematically and of course this tied it in perfectly to the 1960’s new Mexican aesthetic of Jose Luis Cuevas. Cuevas was also one of my strong influences at the time. In depicting deformed bodies, Pablo Picasso becomes an illustrator in my eyes, compared to Bacon, Cuevas and another influential artist, William de Kooning.
It was from this organic base that the Osseous Period was born. As noted in the Osseous notes, this dealt with depicting bones pictorially and actually using real bones as a prescribed material in my assemblage constructions.
Just before the minimal period (1969) and right after it (1973), the Organic Period turned more basic and spontaneous, stripping itself of the obvious connection to death. The artwork became more fluid and erotic. Most of these are drawings but I do have some major Paintings from 1974. Here I was making reference to birth and the sexual organs. I would put my ideas and feelings into images inside an embryonic and erotic form which sometimes looked very ancient and primitive and at other times it seemed contemporary in feeling. I also wanted to address sexual intercourse in a formalistic way without getting vulgar or pornographic and losing my sense of aesthetics.
Thus the organic became the erotic. Gestural and automatic drawing became very important as I did these. I considered these works to be actual “print-outs” of my state of being (emotional and psychological state of mind) at that moment in time. I never corrected (erased or painted over) any of these works, since the automatic (print-out) response was crucial to the artwork. It was this body of work that also led to my using color graphic tape on paper for actual lines. In other words, I drew with tape lines. This led to minimal tape installations on actual walls.
ORGANIC PERIOD in 1962-67 dealt with death (skeletons) and decaying matter and organic souls which showed no gender.
ORGANIC DRAWINGS 1967-69: These simplified and automatic drawings helped to pave the way into the minimal period.
ORGANIC PERIOD in 1967-68 made use of real bones to give life back to death by painting the bones with bright colors. After the minimal period in 1973 I went back to this to touch base with human nature. I would make enlarged painted versions of the erotic organic drawings.