"…the sensuous element of thought."
"I have no objection to describing a painting-it's blue, it's eighteen feet long, it's ten feet high, it has rabbit-skin glue, and so on. But it seems to me to insist on this alone can only lead to a doctrinaire position…What I am saying is that my painting is physical and what I am saying also is that my painting is metaphysical. What I'm also saying is that my life is physical and that my life is also metaphysical."
My art is about perception: visual and conceptual. I explore through my painting how perception as an intellectual, visceral and existential experience affects my sense of place and presence when in the act of touch and seeing; those moments-at-hand when a painting simply is.
As one views my work chronologically over the years one will encounter numerous visual shifts in how I approach these questions. Not unlike the piecing together and reflecting back on a family album, whereby one can go back and view a particular person, place and time from the perspective of a contemporary situation, my work functions in a similar way. Many images I create in response to my present experience often loop back in time to earlier works that might correspond to the questions raised in the present. That “loop” can either reach back to a recent image or jump over many years to a painting that has revealed itself to me in new ways. There is no straight line. No attempt to embellish a previous notion. It is a process that aspires to come as close as possible to the truth of the painting before me: a truth that is neither absolute nor propositional. It is an act of painting that aspires to my own authenticity as well as presents to the viewer the opportunity to perceive of the painting in such a way as to explore and discover the uniqueness that is entirely their own.
A major influence in my work is a love for the art of Barnett Newman and the Minimalist movement of the late 50’s and 60’s. As my interest in perception as a means for looking, thinking, feeling and making decisions has evolved I have come to recognize some of the differences that separate my thinking and my approach to painting from Newman and Minimalist painting.
Aside from specific though crucial points about “place” versus “space “ that Newman alludes to in his art and has challenged me for years, a concern for the relationship of the viewer to the painting, or as Newman might say, the “subject” and the “object,” and how perception plays a role in revealing that interaction between viewer and the painting, and how that creates in the viewer a path to some truth about self and the human condition has been a focus of my work for many years.
Newman has been quoted as saying that:
“I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own separateness, of his own individuality, and at the same time of his connection to others, who are also separate…I think you can only feel others if you have a sense of your own being,”
Richard Shiff, Essay, “Newman’s Time,” Reconsidering Barnett Newman, p. 167.
Newman’s sense of “being,” is crucial to an understanding of his art, and paramount as a corresponding factor to making the connection with his viewer and self. And although it can be reasonably argued that his “being” is not necessarily an absolute, but in fact more embracing as a general characterization of the human condition, there has been recent scholarship and critical analysis that seems to imply a requirement of instantaneous recognition of self in a given moment that to me suggests a “quality” of the absolute beyond the realm of experience I have had as an understanding of a self : one that is constantly in flux. There are “aha” moments for sure, but it is only over time and the unfolding of events past, and present that form the “being” that informs how I approach my interaction with my viewer in a contemporary context; an approach that allows me to explore my own existential condition as a shared and ongoing phenomenon characteristic of everyone. It is a truth of a kind that I continue to pursue in my work.
As to Minimalism, aside from what I saw as a profound sense of beauty in Minimalism’s aesthetic, I took a special interest in what I understood as its unique approach to questions of truth and reality. Minimalism supplanted the use of illusionistic space in painting with “flatness” through a dismissal of perspective in an effort to emphasize the physicality of a painting as an “object.” It is often said to “picture” truth and reality from the standpoint of ontology whereby things, like painting and sculpture, exist on an objective plane of experience as “the thing in itself.” It was these ideas that challenged my thinking and ultimately found numerous manifestations in the development of my art.
The primary difference between minimalism’s approach and my own is a more flexible view of the capability of metaphor, linear perspective, spatial ambiguity and illusion to engage issues about painting that interest me. I have a view of life that encompasses ongoing change, an approach that relinquishes any attempt to theorize or understand the absolute and relies more on observation and intuition. This approach allows me to maintain the freedom to explore what it means to make a painting.
In my art, I use color, light, form, illusion and/or flat space and, at times, sound to explore that experience.
I am an avid reader and an amateur poet. I played bass professionally for fifteen years, primarily jazz. I am also a former steel hauler of fifteen years. I was born and raised on the South side of Chicago.