Drive my dead thoughts over the universe


John Millei’s “Maritime” paintings (2004–07) and “White Squalls” (2005) are enormous, magnificent paintings, mural-like in their panoramic scope and imposing scale, and executed in what can only be called a grand Abstract-Expressionistic manner. Full of the raw, turbulent energy characteristic of what Harold Rosenberg called “action painting,” they have its famously “unfinished” look, suggestive of unfinished revolutionary business — the “revolution against the given, in the self and the world,” bringing with it a sense of “open possibility,” which he thought was the substance of avant-garde art.(5) For Rosenberg action painting is its climactic statement — a final Sturm und Drang enactment of primordial emotion breaking through the social facade, an instinctive cri de coeur against indifference, a release from everyday conventions of communication to express the incommunicado core of the self. Action painting is rebellious romanticism carried to its existential conclusion. It is a plea for authenticity in the midst of inauthenticity. Kandinsky, the first abstract expressionist painter, said that it was an assertion of spiritual freedom in a world that had become a materialistic prison, a rejection of its naive objectivity in the name of the radical subjectivity that he called “inner necessity, the all-important spark of inner life.”(6)

more from Donald Kuspit at Artnet here.