Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Artist's Statement from 2010

These paintings developed from a figure drawing exercise where a model moves and new drawings at each movement are superimposed on the previous drawing. This idea of a still image as a description of the passage of time was famously used in Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, which itself was based in early strobe photography.

In my work, the direction is reversed; where the early moderns were embracing technology, metal, speed, time and gunning for the future, this work stuffs 20th century gestural abstraction back into observational painting traditions; the notion of time employed is organic and human, photography bypassed, the marks muscular but pushed into pictorial space.

I often start with a model, drawing in charcoal for several hours, building representative shapes and colors. Over months, I work on top of the drawings, painting based on what I saw, remember, and anticipated. Although these works appear abstract, most represent specific aspects of real people: observed colors, forms and shapes, paying careful attention to integrating the disparate elements into a coherent whole- usually one that also implies a kind of re-generating landscape in which the figures exist.

To simply understand the physical, temporal, visual, and emotional presence of another person in the same room is a rich problem with no simple paradigm, and painting is well suited to juggling the different aspects of this inexhaustible complexity.

Pushing around the mud to chase the temporal and solidify the ephemeral, I embrace painting traditions, but painting is art to the extent that it continues to create art. This most ancient of media, almost a shelter in the blizzard of pop images, provides unique processes for the exploration of our nature as visual thinkers, as identities and cultures, as breathing, bleeding creatures struggling to be fully conscious of their time and place. My paintings argue that within the nexus of vision, material, illusion and the painting process itself is an irreplaceable process for understanding, in Gauguin’s phrase, where we come from, what we are, where are we go
ing – questions too beautiful for comfort.