Brand-New and Terrific
by Alex Katz

I would like my paintings to be brand-new without having to be pragmatic about it, e.g. new colour for new art or anti-traditional ‘creative forms’. A brand-new painting without much quality can be exciting but there is nothing quite like a painting that is brand-new and terrific.
I have always found it difficult to pinpoint qualities that make something new and lively, and something dull. I don’t think any generalization on style as an esthetic can be of any help. Something brand-new is a magical state, not an intellectually contrived situation.
If a painter is inspired by another painter and influenced by him, what he takes or gets belongs to or is in the tradition of the other painter. In other words, painting becomes traditional the instant what it gives is returned. Some artists are both parties and are able to work in their own tradition. Anyway, painting to be art has to give and take, and painting that just takes is in the tradition of – and never in the tradition.
Eternity exists in minutes of absolute awareness. Painting when successful seems to be a synthetic reflection of this condition. To be aware I don’t believe one has to deny any previous experience. Yet to believe in past experiences to the exclusion of the present is to miss a possibility of being alive for a couple of minutes.
To communicate the condition of awareness into the traditional form of painting is perhaps what I’m after.