I produced this avatar for myself as a kind of shorthand explanation of what my art is all about. Picasso said “The artist always paints himself.” I find this to be true on many different levels as I work through my imagery. It’s also been said of art that an artist paints what he likes. I believe it was Andy Warhol said this. Okay, in my avatar I placed one of my favorite paintings by Henri Matisse… The Red Studio. This painting has fascinated many artists including Mark Rothko. It’s a painting that and tell us objects in a shallow space but alludes to a kind of perspective and makes all of these objects take on pretty much equal importance regardless of where they lay in this red space. I superimpose myself into the painting, looking serious and holding a camera while taking a picture of myself and, seemingly, the painting of The Red Studio. Here, I am purposefully alluding to current pop culture that has people carrying around camera phones and holding the camera out at arms length to take photographs of themselves and friends to post on the Internet or Facebook. Because I always start one of my paintings with something I like it seems a fitting avatar and a kind of. . . I don’t know. . . metaphor for my paintings.
What role does spirituality play in the production of art? Most people very rarely step into the classroom of silence to reconnect themselves with their God. Why? We are afraid of what we might discover about ourselves and about our lives.
I believe that art comes from a place deep within us and has to do with what we love the most. However, most of us are afraid. I’ve met many people who at one point in their lives really enjoyed making art but then became disheartened by the criticisms of others.
Silence therefore is often pushed aside in our modern information age where we find ourselves bombarded from all angles. People sometimes say they are too busy and thus too busy to make art. One must ask the question. . . too busy doing what? I believe Matthew Kelly said it best. “For the most part, we are too busy doing just about everything, that means just about nothing, to just about nobody, just about anywhere… and will mean even less to anyone a hundred years from now!”
In my art, silence is important because it is in this silence and waiting my mind and the materials I use begin to explicitate a narrative. This narrative can sometimes be quite explicit and other times quite subtle and even vague. I don’t see this as a problem, as the viewer invariably brings his own baggage and experience with him as he views a work of art. Still those who adhere to conceptual art dogmatically look for a clearly spoken concept. This can be a dead-end and I feel may not pass the test of time. Like a great film that stands up after 50, 60 or 70 years of viewing by several generations still speaks to the human heart, a great work of art should be expected to do the same.
When it comes to a consistent style in my work is not immediately evident. Instead, there is a consistent and singularly strong concept in how my images are made, how they are constructed and what content is entered into the image. Each image builds on the previous and sometimes obvious and in other times not so obvious ways.
I think Matisse said it best. “I feel very strongly the bond between my old works in my recent ones. But I do not think the way I thought yesterday. My fundamental thoughts have not changed but had evolved in my modes of expression have followed my thoughts. I do not repeat any of my paintings, but I would not paint one of them in the same way had I to do it again. My destination is always the same that I worked out a different route to get there.”
I always seek the kind of visual resolution. Harmonious colors are paramount in my expression as an artist. A kind of architectonic sensibility always serves as an armature for hanging various elements and color passages within a piece.
Above is my second entry into the Saatchi Showdown. It is entitled ‘Venus Bathing in a River or Johnny Depp.’ I want to invite all visitors to this blog to go to Saatchigallery.com and under ‘Showdown’, look for this work and rate it. I’m hoping for a better result this time around by making the work that I submit more catchy as a thumbnail image.
The image is derived from the famous prehistoric sculpture or fertility goddess of Venus of Willendorf. I’ve always found this work very mysterious work for a variety of different reasons and I think it’s influenced a number of artists over the years including Bottero and Picasso. The figure takes on a pneumatic quality.
My approach to this piece retains the pneumatic quality of the original figurine but in my never ending struggle to find connections between works of art and artists and thus creating a new dialogue about certain given artworks I have placed a confrontation between Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse. It wasn’t until the work was finished that I’d noticed that there was a strange resemblance to the picture below.
See and purchase my art at Saatchi OnlineWhat the Red Studio Said Mixed media and collage on OSB 1996
The other day I discovered a really remarkable website sponsored by the Saatchi Gallery in London England. It’s called Saatchi Online. among its many features is the noble endeavor that allows artists to load and display artwork, and sell direct with no commission. In addition, every fortnight a competition is held, a kind of “American Idol” for visual artists allow his people to vote for art that they like in a kind of showdown. The winner takes a cash prize and gets to exhibit their original art in the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/saatchi_online_index.htm
I wanted to let everyone know that I am going to partake in the next showdown by entering one of my paintings entitled; ‘What The Red Studio Said. ‘ it is a painting that features my visual thoughts on one of the most influential paintings of the 20th century, Henri Matisse’ “The Red Studio.” this painting of Matisse is a picture of his studio that features individual and stylized and simplified paintings of his own with in his own painting. These works are eaten up by an earthy red it seems to unify everything within a shallow space. I believe it was Mark Rothko’s favorite painting and one that had a great influence on his own work. I must say that it has influenced me greatly
‘Night fishing at Antibe ‘ by Pablo Picasso is one of my favorite paintings. I love how he makes images emerge in the darkness of this piece and how he simplifies form and figures and creates a kind of symbol for many of them. A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Oregon Coast aquarium in Newport. I went primarily to see the aquarium’s prized attraction at the time, ‘Keiko’ The Killer Whale who starred in the hit movie Free Willy.
What I remember most about that trip was what I would call a visit to the viewing chamber with the huge thickly glassed window wall looking into Keiko’s million gallon tank. It seemed absolutely huge. The light that came into the tank was amazing. What I found even more amazing was that when I first looked into the tank killer whale was nowhere to be seen. I looked and I looked. Then, something started to happen. . . there was some movement in the back of the tank and soon the whale made his way over to the viewing window. His body seemed to take up the entire window and see huge creature just floated there in front of us.
My version of Night Fishing at Antibe pays homage to Picasso. In my work images emerge from the painting but you have to really look for them. They emerge in various ways. But also colors emerge from the lightness. I guess my work is kind of surreal without being “real” were moving toward some sort of photographic image. Instead I play with the psychological meaning of us thought that I have at any given time about a subject or, many subjects. This pictures case I tried to imply a huge window by painting an arc of aqua blue at the top picture and let rivulets of paint infiltrates like the tentacles of a jellyfish into the tank. I wanted the piece to have a sense of floating so I “hang” shapes in the image. I also want to refer to the aquarium and looking or peering into a tank. there are a few Picassoesque passages such as direct references to spear fishing, using simplified figures in symbolic language such as the double ice cream cone that Dora Marr is licking his night fishing. I’ve also reference a lightbulb, an object that generally hangs to imply illumination and the mark of divinity the source of life. Overall I feel that this rather large work for me 96 inches wide as one of the most complex surfaces I have ever attempted with a wide variety of shallow relief elements and subtle usage of exposed ground. We are
The above mixed-media triptych which I entitled “Portal To the Cool Fragrant Place” has been an image that I have been working on and off of for some time. The image you see is a compilation of numerous images seen as a kind of dream scape.
The image is 8 feet tall and is comprised of a large middle section and two narrower wings on the left and right. originally I had intended the image to be only the center section and it was quite a bit later that while working on a much cooler painting I found that there was a geometry that fit symmetrically with the much warmer central portion. Concerning the imagery and in keeping with the theme of making images of the things that I like and composing them within some sort of two-dimensional architecture, I began by wanting to paint a fragrance; something that I knew could elisite a strong feeling in the viewer but without using an actual fragrance inducing device. In this case I began with an orange that had been impaled by many sprigs of clove. I love this smell. I also believe that all images are up for grabs when it comes to creating new art. In this case, ‘The Moroccans’ by Matisse was a primary influence and I could say the same for Claude Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’. My piece is about influence and how an artist can be influenced to create something new. Monet by his Water Lilies; Matisse, by his trip to Morocco.
The painting is also about contemplation and the focus is on the orange and the mysterious purple oval or navel and a harmonious abstraction of a monk in contemplation looking out into the cool green courtyard of uncertain dimensions that seems to also emit a furnace like sunlight based on how the images within it are broken up. For example a goldfish bowl is eaten up by the light, a colonnade it is eaten up by the light. A portal looking out onto some North African architecture, a figure, and at the upper right print of Matisse’s “Seated Rifian.’ Laced through this whole piece is the theme of cool blue water that ripples out from top to bottom sprinkled with strange motifs that get their impetus from passages in the Rifian. A strange cornucopia, a birdlike form cutout. . . almost escaping from the frame a passage of painted water lilies and escaping goldfish arched there way over the top with soft drawn images over more literal harder ones. . . a pitcher, a water lily and a warm collage and scumbled abstraction lower portion.
Always aware of trying to unify the image using whatever method that could work I have added in digital form a concentricity in the form of a ghost image laid over the entire image that helps to not only unify but to focus our attention at the images ‘center and give homage to the end of Abstract Expressionism.’
“Christie’s Webcast Auction” is the work that I started as a mixed-media painting/collage on OSB board. The painting got its name from a full-page advertisement in the New York Times announcing a webcast auction for a painting by Mark Rothko. I collaged the full-page ad into my work and as I did so I began to see how the medium I was using to adhere the collage was making it semi transparent and I liked this look. The idea of selling a Rothko online seemed so high-tech and impersonal compared to the sensibilities of the artist and as the artist of this work I developed this image as a kind of memorial to the painter who spent his early years in my hometown of Portland Oregon.
My work includes imagery that includes some of Rothko’s sensibilities including rectangles, a spiritual overall quality that seeks to express an emotion and joy. Laminated over the image of the Rothko painting in the Times ad using the encaustic technique I placed the CD that has digitize the original painting by Rothko. Within the Rothko I’ve inserted the concentric lines of a Frank Stella black painting. I’ve surrounded this with I feel are chance images with in the image that could be mistaken for Rothko’s work. Near one of these chance images I have inserted a photo of Mark Rothko’s actual tombstone is a reminder of his continual presence in the world of art. Strewn around the piece I have alluded to a kind of memorial and left flowers (in visual development) near the grave and a morphing image of a swan by Matisse. It just fit their visually. I then began to place a hard shadow behind one of the Rothko images in a manner of the painter Thiebaud and included a separated yellow ‘halation’ (an optical effect that takes place near objects illuminated by intense light that creates colorful shadow edges) next to it. That had the effect of drawing the eye to the subtleties within the Christie’s webcast auction translucency’s within the collage.
Q.: How did this painting come about?
A. I was watching the documentary Man on Wire about Philippe Petit the tight rope walker who walked between the two World Trade Center towers before they were completed in 1972 and who also walked between the Towers of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Notre Dame Cathedral. I found this story that was told to be one so humanly courageous but more importantly, about a man who had to make art because he had no other choice.
Q. How did the image itself come about?
A. While watching Man on Wire an image struck me as so dramatic that I had to capture it somehow. It was just a brief bit of film footage that I think Petit shot just prior to stepping on the table he and his friends had covertly strong between the two Towers in the wee hours of the morning. It was looking down over 1000 feet to the Plaza below the 30 years later would be the site of one of the greatest tragedies in American history.
Q. What were you trying to capture in your painting and how does it differ from a still from the movie?
A. I’m a painter not a photographer so my painting deals with painterly concerns that gives me more options with how I deal with an image visually. I did however start out with a photograph that I took with my digital camera of a still frame from my TV screen. By doing so I was able to capture what you might call the gesture of the scene but the camera was able to grab elements that were not visible to the naked eye like scan lines and what I might call prismatic edges within the scan. This fascinated me and so I went to start my painting I decided to leave in these chance elements.
Q. There is an interesting passage in this work that alludes to a painting of Notre Dame Cathedral by Henri Matisse painted in 1912. tell me why you chose to include a version of it in this painting?
A. Vagueness and chance are elements that I pay a visit to in just about all of my paintings. I often find myself as I am making a painting thinking about other works of art that I have seen it may relate to a shape that I am creating a current work but in this case, in the photograph I took there was a cluster of buildings that reminded me to some degree of that painting by Matisse. As I looked it up I saw how seemingly prophetic the image was in how he had simplified the towers of Notre Dame to such a degree that it was almost as if I was looking at the modernist towers of the World Trade Center and furthermore in order to add contrast, Matisse had painted in black what could be construed as dense black smoke emitting from the top of these towers of the cathedral. There is also in that painting a simplified green tree and I have included that in my images well.
Q. You have included the word dance in the title of this painting where does that come from?
A. This comes from another chance coincidence. In the documentary, a New York City policeman is interviewed about the incident after Petit was arrested. His report mentions how a man walked between the Towers but he said that it was more correct to say that the man danced between the Towers. I have included in my painting hundreds of slightly different versions of Matisse’s famous ‘La Danse.’ The image is stamped in violet throughout the picture to not only modulate slightly the color but it also has some very literal historical meanings as well given the facts of 9/11. I have tried to give what could have been a horrific scene sense of joy and hope.
Plunge With La Dance