I like to think of my recent work as the serious pursuit of play.
On one hand it employs a completely abstract vocabulary of form. On the other hand, there is always the figure.
Images are generated by random marking with the brush, often with my eyes closed. I then try to make sense of the picture, imposing an order upon it by finding a head or body that presents itself to me in this process. In an effort to work in a psychological state more closely aligned with the subconscious, I try to set up a situation in which I am able to find an image that I would not consciously construct. Realizing that this may be an impossibility, I am, nevertheless, increasingly interested in the sense of surprise and even preposterousness that this process engenders. Using this as a starting point, I can then more consciously direct the work.
Very often I abandon the images when they seem formally or conceptually too weak or perhaps even too beautiful to continue. Taking inspiration from Art Brut, the COBRA school and Expressionism in general, I paint them out in favor of something that I perceive to be more raw and direct an expression. This often borders upon the grotesque. I try to remain open to suggestion. If the process of destroying the work presents an interesting possibility, I pursue it. This means that I am often led down many dead-ends and forced to abandon and restart paintings many times on the same canvas.
The presence of the figure further animates the abstraction, bringing emotional charge to the form. The subject matter gives rise to content that develops in a mysterious manner as the painterly elements are manipulated. Humor, joy, vulnerability, fear, exuberance, anger, failed heroism and libidinous desire have all surfaced as welcome, yet unpremeditated content. Laughing out loud in my studio is its own reward.
I find drawing to be very exploratory, often pointing me in new directions. I recently initiated a series of charcoal drawings that were generated by “frottage”, i.e. rubbings taken from the rough concrete floor of my studio. Much like the Surrealists use of “automatism”, i.e., spontaneous drawing, these non-objective rubbings served as a point of departure for the development of images. Many artists have utilized random markings to inspire compositions. Leonardo is said to have stared at water stains on walls in order to create elaborate battle scenes. When staring into the textured surfaces, one’s mind strives to make order of the chaos and slowly patterns and images emerge. Without eliminating the overall texture, which operates as a kind of visual static, I try to coax an image from the paper.
As I see it, a successful drawing is one that retains the variegated surface and maintains a high degree of ambiguity, allowing the viewer to discover the image in much the same way I did. What I look for is a balance between a recognizable image and the insistence of surface texture. The most successful drawings describe the relationship between resolution and dissolution. Their highly indeterminate nature purposefully confounds the viewer by creating a seemingly recognizable image that never fully completes itself, returning to the overall, flat non-objectivity of the picture plane.
The ideas in these recent drawings are beginning to manifest themselves in a group of new paintings that are generated from a similar process utilizing the element of chance.