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Wifredo Lam Paints a Picture

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Blog post revisiting Geri Trotta's 195 profile of painter Wilfredo Lam, republished on the occasion of an exhibition of Lam's paintings at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, on view through February 15, 2016.

Trotta writes: "[Lam] works with one color at a time in a spurt of passion until he has put it everywhere he wants it. Then he sets it aside, goes on to the next color. He may use it later to mix into a new shade, but seldom returns to it in its original form… he pours a strong grass-green into what’s left of the near-black and makes an olive green. At first, its seems too dark. He adds more green, and lots of turpentine. He dips his brush in it, tests the color with a few strokes. All this time, he’s been using the same flat, bristle brush which he’s wiped on a rag in between changes of colors, or on the daisy-tiled floor that serves, quite casually, as a general palette. He puts the canvas back on the floor, pauses hesitantly, then covers the emerald with the olive-green, working as if pursued and muttering: 'There’s a moment in painting when everything must be stalked; either the work will be killed, or it will be born.'"

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