Friday, December 05, 2008

My Statement for the Homegrown Show

I first used this statement for a Tema Celeste article a few years back. This photo appears with it in the catalog - apparently I'm not making my mother proud with this one.

Painting: Now this is a messy business. All these concepts, metaphors, symbols - they just don’t seem to stick. Oily annoyances, they always end up contaminating an otherwise clean surface before sliding off and befouling the studio floor. They form doubts, disregard rules they insisted on moments on before, and then they’re gone. Busy little bees buzzing from flower to flower, cross-pollinating and hybridizing, they’re never satisfied. The dead end becomes all too apparent and attractive. Anyway, it’s out of my hands, so hey - if you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Pardon me sir, may I interest you in a scenic landscape?

So here I am with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. All I ever really wanted was a style, just one, that’s all... I’ve already told you that if you were a good boy you could have dessert. But you haven’t been good at all. You don’t know how to pay attention or focus. Now stop playing with your food or you’ll eat it for breakfast tomorrow! Can’t you finish anything? Must be attention deficit disorder... When you fail to recognize your own limitations failure becomes a method and dissonance your spirit guide. Maybe the dead end isn’t what it seemed. It’s the point where the road ends and ubiquity begins. Recall the ambassadors! Forward in all directions! Now take this down: I’ve confused desire with attraction - I want more. I demand more. I’m coming to take what’s mine! In a constant state of arousal a sense of accomplishment is elusive, but at least now you can admit one thing - a parochial attitude is no longer possible. Ah yes, the non-hierarchical aesthetic has become paradigm.

Don’t provoke me, I’ll paint your portrait!

Or maybe I won’t. And that’s the ironic ending. Now the childhood fantasy has come true. Bombardment with gamma rays or the experiment gone terribly awry has forced you to assume multiple identities. Armed with ambiguity, disparity, and a hint of resolve, the assimilation of diverse pictorial modes begins.

Look how this still life adds to any arrangement!

The challenge to painting’s flexibility is deliberate and deadly serious. Strict informality meets ornament toe to toe on the uneven playground of gothic hyperspace. An intentional mistake whispers noncompliance but can stop indecision dead in its tracks from becoming paralysis. So what’s the big idea with this anything goes anti-strategy? The fact that there is no big idea is the big idea.

It’s all just a means to an end. The surface describes only that which is superficial and immaterial - merely camouflage given shape by a totally different underlying structure. What does the text mean? Not what it says. You’ve taken me too literally. I’m not in the business of making pictures. It is possible that painting can symbolize itself and simultaneously reveal some mythic truth, but who knows for sure? The mistake is in thinking there’s a code to break in the first place. That pitiless formalism and singularity are ancient history - a heavy-handed attempt to categorize.

Painting is understood when it is unlocked from rules and language that reinforce the walls of its Euclidean prison. It speaks for itself on its own terms and just is. And you are just you. So shut up and look at me when I’m talking to you!

Excerpt from a conversation with Painting

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