MP Landis sees his mixed media paintings and drawings on paper, in particular his ‘Warehouse Drawing’ series, as a palimpsest of the processes, materials and inspirations – especially his love of jazz, poetry and nature – he draws on everyday. I never knew what a palimpsest was until I looked it up – it means a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text – and it’s an interesting description of his work. It suggests a graffiti technique of sorts, a rubbing out, a covering over, an ongoing process.
Like a number of the artists I’ve posted up before Landis collaborates alot with musicians, poets and dancers as well as running projects in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service and other visual artists. Here’s how he explains the process:
Each Warehouse Drawing begins as a functional piece of paper, folded and carried with me throughout the day, and marked with date, place, and daily minutiae. I then draw and paint on them in response to whatever is happening in and outside of my studio.
The last step of this process is signing, numbering, and dating by month and year each individual WD. They are numbered in chronological order, starting with #1 when I began this series in 1996. Now I am nearing #5000.
Making these WD’s has influenced the rest of my artwork. The portability, spontaneity, and obsessiveness of creating this WD series have all seeped into my other work, both subtly and overtly. All of my artwork deals with the functionality of process, and the materials at hand, in different ways.
On an aside I found out an interesting story about him. In 2008 Landis got kidney failure and went on dialysis. His longtime collaborator, the musician Tom Abbs, donated him his kidney – an act of supreme genorisity. It saved Landis’ life and the two went on to make a documentary film about collaboration on an artistic and human level called ‘To Give is to Receive is to Give’.
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