My work represents a long and continuing shift away from literal and rational narratives while occasionally challenging traditional notions of beauty.
To some extent, each piece usually begins as a portrait of sorts, albeit a metaphorical rather than literal one. Most pieces are inspired by a specific event, emotion, or personal encounter, and the subject matter is carefully constructed to give form to the particular attitudes I’m attempting to convey. An entire world—figure, environment, space, and atmosphere — is devised within the borders of the image, all for the purpose of creating a distinct psychological setting. Although certain elements and themes often recur, each image was created—and is intended to be viewed—as a single, stand-alone statement. I do not work in series per se.
Every aspect of the subject matter is indirect and suggestive, and scenes often embody hints of existential despair, psychosexual conflict, and other forms of physical and emotional discord. Ambiguous biomorphic and architectural elements appear in a symbolic or metaphorical way to suggest various fears, temptations, anxieties, and turmoil imbedded in the human psyche. Anatomical forms introduce a human presence without literal representation. Figures and elements sometimes appear solitary or isolated, implying alienation and disaffection, while at other times they interact in uneasy communion. Phallic and vulval forms appear frequently as a reminder of primordial struggles, and space is often fractured or twisted, providing a malignant environment for its inhabitants. Color is also manipulated subjectively; complementary color pairings may set up an anxious intensity or a sense of artifice, while more earthy and organic hues allude to living matter.
In addition to providing the suggestion of human presence and activities, the prevalence of anatomical references in my work is part of a long-standing interest in items of “non-traditional” beauty — items like viscera and genitalia which are not generally described as “beautiful” because of unpleasant associations, societal taboos, or other reasons irrelevant to their visual qualities.
My choice of media depends largely upon which aspects of the piece will be most critical in setting the psychological tone. When the physical character of the objects is essential, I paint the image in alkyd and oil, which allow subtle color transitions and the layering of glazes to reveal a subject’s texture and material structure. When the general tone calls for a grittier contrast and an emphasis on light and shadow, I work monochromatically in drawing or printmaking media, striving for a visual atmosphere akin to German Expressionist cinema or American film noir. I occasionally use digital processes to explore these same moods, using the computer as I would a pencil or brush to create, blend, alter, combine, and suggest forms.
My art is not self-referential (i.e. “painting about paint”) and does not rely upon arcane art theory for its conceptual strength. Nevertheless, I attempt to challenge the viewer by combining non-literal and symbolic imagery with universal human concerns in such a way as to ask rather than answer. A piece that merely provides answers is dead, stagnant, unchanging. A viewer has but to glance, then move on. A piece that asks questions, however, never stops changing and invites the viewer’s emotional involvement. The relatively small size of the works helps ensure that this involvement takes place within the viewer’s personal space, making each willing individual a participant in the psychological setting. Even if no “universal” answer is obtained, the intellectual and emotional journey has been mutually beneficial for both the viewer and the artist. My ultimate intent is always to engage the viewer without oversimplifying, to challenge without alienating, and to seek common emotional ground.