ABOVE: Untitled (Self Portrait), 2016. Oil on linen. 20" x 16"
I want, need, love, loathe, like and fear people. These are the axes upon which my work turns.
Above is the best condensation in words of my work's aim that I can presently think of.
I'm an Expressionist with a nod towards the conceptual and surrealism. I want my work to pass through your mind like a glimpse of people and All Things Passing. Crumbs of dreams, crumbling dreams. Willem de Kooning called himself a "slipping glimpser." Among my influences is my unavoidable past, as art is autobiography, which is likely true for the supermajority of artists. But Francis Bacon and Van Gogh have stained me for good. I nearly yelp at the recognition of life they give me. With Bacon and Van Gogh, the paint was made flesh. I have long been prey to thick paint and thick frosting on cakes. Wonderful it would be if we could eat such art and transubstantiate? It would be selfish... Bacon sobers me and Van Gogh makes me cry with and for beauty—and both birth melancholy, the Beautiful Sadness of lavender, cinnamon, sun, sea, mountain, roses; scabs, broken flesh, broken minds and misery as All Things Pass.
Barking at the heels of Bacon and Van Gogh is Marlene Dumas, Caroll Dunham and Philip Guston. Dumas carries on Bacon's disquiet, seen above in the ghostly loneliness and isolation of Confluence. From Dunham and Guston came cartoonish outlines with a lighthearted patina over the vulgar and disturbing. Even El Greco, that purveyor of a chill, morbid palette falls in, though I can barely stand to look at his work for just those reasons. I catch cold. Lastly, a basting of Goya, one of my demigods of The Enlightenment, a lantern of hope and reporter of despair and horror.
John Baldessari informs much of my sensibility for collage. I hope for the brutal elegance of Paul Bowles's short stories in my efforts. I admire the humanity and grace of Federico Fellini's cinema, which is often dreamy—but of our waking world and a bit in my work.
I grew up on a 21 acre hobby farm—one supported by outside incomes—where the beauty of the land was as animated as Van Gogh's work. Among that beauty erupted from time to time ghastly life and death events that Bacon would have embraced. Parades of troubled and troubling people and lovely people. A sense of deep time, that all this will happen over and over somewhere, somehow.
Why do I make art? Not because I'm good at it. Not because I think I'm good at it. But because it simply must be. Because it is a manifestation of my being here.
Fraught with meaning, art nourishes us and validates that zone of interaction with the world and our inner life. Art is an incarnation of the shards of our minds, even as its materials influence its outcome. Respect for the latter is crucial to my work: a waltz with the universe through my mediums and materials.
I distinguish those motivations from what I want as an artist, which is the usual: recognition and confirmation, a celebration of the entire, vain project.
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