Richard Overfield | RG (Reds) Order/Disorder
Acrylic on linen canvas | 1986
In the early 1970's I decided to begin a series of paintings which would be an opportunity for me to explore just what it is that makes a painting art. Contemporary poetry was my university major with philosophy as a minor. Reading philosophy led me to look at Edmund Husserls ideas in depth. Along lines established by Franz Brentano, he believed that consciousness is always intentional with a physical or ideal object. To understand how we know the world in which we are conscious of something is to examine the phenomenological structure of the information available to us.
Husserl’s ideas about phenomenology as a method resonated most strongly with me in his eidetic reductions. I began eliminating anything extraneous to what I considered to be seminal and indispensable elements to painting as art. In the late 1960’s, I was working with photorealism. I decided to do a series of fifty paintings. They would be in sets of ten beginning with white followed by ten black paintings and then ten in red, then yellow and finally ten in blue. I quickly eliminated photography and representational images as a source of content. I could not, however, find a way to eliminate the grid, which I used to transfer images to various surfaces, as an irreducible structure which organized putting paint on a surface. Nonobjective painting techniques produced predictable, amorphous voids that simply did not rise to the level of art. The grid, on the other hand, presented endless possibilities. For the next decade, I explored white which I named the White Grid Series. Eventually I decided there was no way to conclude, or exhaust the possibilities and arbitrarily ended the White Grid Series & began working on the Black Grid Series for five years or so. The Red Grid Series was even shorter and RG (Reds) Order/Disorder is the only example I have of the Red Grid Series.