Thoughts about my painting practice

Update April ’23

Chance and intuition play heavily throughout the history of abstract painting and I embrace that part of this modality. The framework of interconnected, isometric cubes- a type of automatic drawing- which I use serves as a constraint to both focus and free the use of intuitive, creative energy (spontaneity, the word artists use instead of play).

I am also interested, within my practice and my life, in the idea that two dissonant concepts or conditions can simultaneously be true despite appearing to contradict each other. Painting is by nature flat (a surface) and can imply space/depth. Isometric cubes are 3 trapezoids that form a pattern, and can also imply a solid shape given variation in tone betwixt them. In the case of my work, many of the cubes’ orientation in space can also be understood from vantages which contradict each other.

At this point in western history we all see the cube as a representation of early, Modernist ideas of nonrepresentational painting. That intention works for me, as a place to enter the work, especially since formalism is (not only) what my creative activity looks like in the studio, it can be read as a focus and intention towards the visual character of the elements of the work, which is what I wish for the audience (to see first, outside of words and language). I will also note that the impetus of Modernism- framed as a cultural notion that the rapidly changing world required Westerners to let go of outdated institutions and mores- seems quite relevant today.

The allure of creating objects that are an exchange of energy between the maker and viewer has motivated me since I began making Art as an undergraduate student, and is the reason the non-painting parts of my practice centers temporary states. Focusing inwardly on the work is much less fraught, I think, in this post-modern era when that activity doesn’t mean a vacuous adherence to silly ideas about the true nature of things, or simplistic celebrations of ingenuity.

I don’t title pieces before they are shown, so the audience will engage first in looking without anchoring to or filtering a concept. Generally, I don’t see the need for abstract art works to act as signs that exist to point to something else, like an idea- said differently, I think anchoring a viewer with any statement about a subject tethers them to thought and language and distracts from contemplation. The distinction I am drawing here is between looking at a thing on its own terms and talking about that act of looking and its phenomenological, social and historical implications. My practice as an artist engages both activities; and, it is nothing more or less than how I have chosen to practice this modality.

Personally, cubes have additional content for me, whether from time (hours!) spent in childhood assembling blocks to time spent rendering simple spaces in first year of architecture school, or to the wireframe computer animation of the late 70s and early 80s that was an aesthetic cultural shift I got to witness.

The concept of contradiction- a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something- is of great interest to me outside of painting as well. Having spent the last several hundred words convincing the reader of a desire to avoid being didactic, I would be thrilled to have viewers note that my work demonstrates how two ideas which appear to contradict can also both be true.

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