The following artist's statement was written on the occasion of my solo exhibition titled "Unstretched" at Villa Julie Gallery (now Stevenson University).
The visual arts are rooted in architecture. Painting, sculpture, even textiles are forms developed to adorn architectural space. Later, canvas, papermaking, printmaking and photography added portability to the mix. More recently, electronic media continues to extend portability. Yet, the visual arts are constantly drawn back to architecture whether through site-specific installation, wall projections, or in the stubbornness in which traditional forms reassert themselves. Architectural space, the stage, is an integral part of the visual arts.
In the visual arts a dialog exists between two philosophies: one representing objectivity and rationality, the other subjectivity and the irrational. There are plenty of variations in between but, at any one time, particularly in the cyclical fashions of the contemporary art world, one sees the dominance of one of these philosophies over the other. Since the mid-90s art that tends towards rationality has dominated. The dominant forms pay homage to Duchamp but downplay the Dadaist's tendencies towards the absurd. The current paradigm presents academic and political ideas through polished surfaces, manufactured items and found objects. I find these strategies oddly reminiscent of international modernism. Academics and the international art scene pay homage to an avant-garde, long deceased, while the grid and other minimalist structures tame indigenous cultural vocabularies. As much as I may appreciate individual efforts in this vein, I also find myself working in opposition to them. The creative act is often an act of negation. I find the neo-conceptual process flat and academic. The practice of creating a work from a fully formed concept leaves little room for chance or magic. Today’s minimalist vocabulary comes off as strangely decorative. Much of the work has the nouveau design quality of an object from Ikea or Targét.
Painting elicits a unique response. Viewers tend to interpret brushwork in a figurative painting in an autobiographical way. That doesn't happen with film or music. With film we are trained to accept the alternative reality and we easily accept abstraction in music where tone and rhythm strike directly at the heart. The painting response lends an element of drama to the work. Though painting is seen as a solo performance it can also be operatic. Painting is a one-person theater with a one-person audience, operatic and private at the same time, like standing in front of a speaker at a crowded rock concert till your ears ring. With mechanical means plentiful and inexpensive there's little reason to paint in a scientific mode.
I make my own discoveries when developing imagery. There are few preconceptions. This allows me to tap into the subconscious, to leave things to chance. My work makes use of the fantastic, expanding upon the legacy of Goya, Jose Orosco and Frida Kahlo, and work by contemporary artists like Phillip Guston, Francesco Clemente, and Robert Colescott, with whom I studied. The work strives to personify that which has no visual manifestation through invented imagery.
I’ve preserved an unfinished quality in these works, an open-ended-ness physically and narratively. I've primed the canvas with rabbit skin glue to retain the natural color of the canvas. The paint has been built up — canvas, under painting, and drawing exposed. I want the viewer to get a sense of where these objects come from, that a person stood in front of them with a brush, reacting to each new mark. There was no preconception, no formula. Self-consciousness is an obstacle and not easy to avoid for a trained artist. Yet it can be something to push against. Dress down, undress, and unstretch.