Mary Endico often hears, from people viewing her strong abstract watercolors for the first time, "Very impressive. Are these acrylics or oils? I've never seen anything like them. What style of art is this?"
She has always been at a loss how to respond. First off they are neither acrylics nor oils but watercolors. Mary's development of specific watercolor technique, plus her bold use of unique compositional elements, has truly gone beyond what was done before and fuels the misunderstanding regarding materials. Endico paintings are without precedence in many ways. Therefore no easy answer has existed to, "What style of art is this?"
A context exists to the development of the Endico style that is broad enough to warrant an entirely new term. Borrowing, then combining the two French words "haute" and "conduite," serves at once to provide a heading for the Endico style while establishing a somewhat neutral expression to be imbued with descriptions of first the historic context, then the rigorous long term personal commitment and finally the uncompromising acquisition of technical skills that was required to produce the unique body of work which is the Endico progenesis.
Translations of "haute" include `high', `lofty' or `intense'. In the world of affairs "conduite" means `direction, management or control'. Therefore coining the words into an English term can begin by stating that a literal translation of the two is "intense control." From there the definition of haute conduite as a term referring to the Endico watercolor style must be completed by pointing to examples of the art that it names while explaining that art's genesis.
The description of the historical context inspects the late 20th century geopolitical circumstances existing in America when Mary began her quest to expand the limits of the watercolor lexicon. In the United States there was not only a long standing expression of a cultural incentive to produce such work, but also economic rewards that offered the artist a full-time opportunity to develop the range of skills that would coalesce into the Endico haute conduite style. It was a democratic environment that also allowed this development to take place outside mainstream traditional routes, processes and assumptions. It is the continuance of this state of artistic and economic freedom that allows others who aspire to the same level of artistic achievement to follow in Mary's footsteps. It is not an easy path, but it is a possible path.
The description of the personal commitment required to achieve this level of work is instructive to others who may be just starting out, or already well on their way, towards providing the same degree of artistic excellence and in so doing providing the same positive impact on the people they touch. The immediately observable aspect of that impact is generally referred to as art appreciation , but more specifically it is something that speaks to and promotes the creative spark residing in all of us. Haute conduite flows from and then further inspires commitment to creative excellence.
Finally a description of the technical skills required to produce haute conduite solidly illuminates the central core of its existence and its continuation. Mastery of these various demanding aspects may proceed along many routes, as will be shown, but the final synthesis of those skills into the Endico haute conduite watercolor style could only come after successful completion of a multitude of rigorous struggles to control an extremely unstable and fickle medium--wet on wet watercolor. It is this assiduous list of requirements that in part causes Mary's watercolors to often be mistaken for acrylics or oils. The deft handling of brush, water and color that is needed to produce the pure, crisp strokes of haute conduite watercolor was virtually unheard of in pure aqueous media before Endico led the way.
However all three of these elements: historic context, commitment to excellence and technical mastery are actually inseparably intermingled in the creation of haute conduite
. They are only separated here, because the thing being discussed is viewed in
retrospect and from afar. Life is massively parallel while words are inherently
from Endico Watercolors Curators Guide
Copyright © 2002 Bob Fugett
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