Work on Monday: “Writing on the Wall” by Joseph Eschenberg

Following our year in review, Work on Monday is back with a painting by Amagansett mixed media painter Joseph Eschenberg. The piece, titled “Writing on the Wall,” is a bit stripped down when compared to the more three-dimensional the works for which Eschenberg is best known, but it’s strength lies in this simplicity.

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

Writing on the Wall
Joseph Eschenberg (b. 1957)
Metal and enamel on board
30 x 30 inches, 2010

Square and just shy of 3 feet, “Writing on the Wall” uses aggressive strokes and heavy impasto, but Eschenberg balances this with a controlled field of white around the yellow paint, and masking above and below a series of black drips across the center. The drips, clearly created while leaving the paint’s trajectory to chance, stays controlled in its placement. Appearing like letters from some long dead, or perhaps alien, language, the black drips show strongly against the rough yellow ground.

Together, the elements make for a focused, graphic and powerful piece to view, yet the expressive and painterly elements lend something more authentic and attractive than more deliberate or geometric compositions would allow. By masking off the black drips and creating what initially appear to be letters, Eschenberg gives the viewer a new perspective on the drips themselves—here and in other drip paintings. Suddenly, the drips and splatters in a Jackson Pollock take on more substantial forms, thanks to Eschenberg’s deft and seemingly effortless use of his simple masking technique.

“Writing on the Wall” is easy to like visually, but it requires deeper consideration to see the work’s true magic.

See more work by Joseph Eschenberg at josepheschenberg.com

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