At one point, while other artists in the Ferus Gallery were doing all these adventurous things, I was compulsively directed toward making these drawings — repetitive pencil marks. I guess I thought that if I pressed hard enough and long enough, some magical phenomena would take place. Something would appear.
I did one with just nothing but marks — 40 by 60. I did four of those, took me almost a year.
One afternoon, I came home and my wife said, “Go out and pick up the kids at the park.” So I pulled them out of the back of my station wagon — I was taking them to the framer the next day. When I came back, the garage door was open and the gardener had come in and hosed the whole thing out.
The water had trickled up about a third of the way into the panels. I should have just cut that part off. Instead I destroyed them.
When I did the resin paintings it was down in Venice, around the early '70s. I had a studio that I built right in front of a paddle tennis court. I did them in this outside working area because I knew it was so toxic.
I built a big platform, covered it with linoleum, and then put a rain gutter around it. It must have been around 10 by 12 feet. Then I put Mylar, a kind of film, on top of the linoleum. I made red and blue chalk lines on a canvas and put it face down on the Mylar, and poured resin all over the back of it, squeegeeing it off to the edge where it went into these little gutters. When the whole thing would dry, I could peel the canvas off the Mylar, and the resin would have seeped through to the front of it.
People always ask me, “Well, what do you paint?” I say, “I paint canvas.” They think that that's a kind of joke, but it isn't a joke. It's very direct.
I'd like to make it very clear that I'm not creative and I'm not trying to express myself. I'm an explorer, I'm trying to discover things, discover the phenomenal world by examining it, by looking at it, by playing with the materiality, pushing it around, shoving it, throwing it in the air.
—As told to Tibby Rothman
Ed Moses, one of the original artists affiliated with L.A.'s legendary Ferus Gallery, continues to be a prolific painter today.