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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 2, June 2015


Charles Tarlton
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA

Richard Diebenkorn’s OCEAN PARK SERIES:
Three Ekphrastic Moments


CARMODY: The painter spoke long before; he’s over and done with.
BLIGHT: Would he mind, do you suppose, if I tried to lure the music out?

the eye remembers
till it looks away, the details
unfixed, nameless, small

I can see the presence there, the viewer’s dark silhouette and the brightly colored painting;

where the yellow bar, lying
across the top weighs down

the distance thick with looking, the canvas, wholly muted, strains against the air;

a man’s afraid to look
away and tries to pound at least
the blue into his dreams

if he could walk in, go right through the surface of blue and yellow paint, he’d find it.

the air is tense, leaden
the moment justly frozen


Ocean Park #116

CARMODY: Let me take a stab at this one. I’ll tell you what I think he was up to.
BLIGHT: A tapestry . . . and maybe an airfield . . . .and . . . did you see, the top, the curve partly erased?

call this the “Blue One”
a fallen patch of sky, but not

If he made six good original lines with a ruler he could divide up the whole canvas.

really. On inspection

In desperation he would have matched this with that to reach up into the two-toned yellow bar.

a blue wash spread over lines
delineating nothing now

Like a bird calling faintly across the lake at crepuscule; you’re wondering if you really heard it.

if you were to try
to describe Van Gogh’s ”Starry Night”

This picture is a composition of geometric shapes, a student’s notebook, filled with erasures.

brush stroke by brush stroke

When your thoughts are determined to find the subject, the sky or the town, they stop and surrender.

and could not take refuge in
the idea of a tree or stone

Just lines, angles, colors, textures, and frustration, over and over.

two lines of order
at the stop, the first things drawn

You can see readily each rectangular form is different from the others like ears or noses would be in portraiture, or leaves on a tree.

radius of a circle

The lines and boxes, the colors alternating make a visible metaphysics, an ontology of whimsy.

the large fields watery, opaque

Author's Note: Ocean Park #116 can be viewed online here.


Ocean Park #118

CARMODY: Each one is really different, of course, but they’re also just the same.
BLIGHT: The same notes can be played in a lot of different ways.

you wouldn’t describe
the shapes of all the letters
interpreting a poem

If I say there’s an orange and black needle entering top left, splitting the picture like a wedge

you have to enter behind
the surface marks, go deeper

between the brightly layered bands at the top and ever larger polygons in pale colors

for all the balancing
none of this means anything
not the light, not joy

a faded purple belt with black lines fits under it and then mistakes just showing through.

you might imagine your way
through to his true state of mind

Author's Note: Ocean Park #118 can be viewed online here.



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