A little story.
I have found it very odd that I have had such a difficult time committing to paper what I think about the activity of painting and it’s role in contemporary culture. I have procrastinated writing anything for as long as I could and talked to anyone would will listen about how little I have to say on the subject, to which they reply- that’s ridiculous, you have been painting for 25 years, you must have something to say about it. Having studied art in the late 70’s on the West Coast, I painted as a punk gesture to the then dominant mode of artmaking - performance art, site specific sculpture, land works, video and photography. And so I performed, took pictures and created many site specific artworks (I still do) as well as made videos (and still do), but I felt that painting was the form that best allowed me to synthesize multiple ways of seeing and understanding – through representation, non representation, process art, narrative, abstraction and systems. And, no matter how I started a painting, my friends accident and chance always took over and nothing ever happened as expected - that is a thrill that I value and seek.
In the 80’s, while living and exhibiting in Los Angeles and New York, my paintings were first paintings about painting, then, in the 90’s my paintings were embodiments of theories and ideas. I became influenced by the writing of Gertrude Stein, who re- contextualized everything by lifting, separating and repeating and as a result reinvented the world, and with the philosophical propositions of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. As a result, liberated by the digital technologies that made it possible, I could extend my paintings into objects, videos, sounds and spaces. My painting installations are not critiques of painting but extensions of the attributes of painting- they serve as environments that amplify sensations.
"The physical universe, then, is a kind of language that invites a spectator to decipher it, although this does not yield a single message so much as a network of associations." Marshal Olds “Literary Symbolism”
I paint in the spaces in between Odilon Redon, Max Ernst and Meret Oppenheim, Roberto Matta and Lucio Fontana, Jean Dubuffet and Joan Mitchell, Jay De Feo and Alfred Jensen, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Gerard Fromanger, to name a few. These disparate artists are some of my friends. Their works are of interest to me because of their processes, materialism and symbolist inclinations- each of them transcribe a zone of transformation. Excessive, playful, analytic and even earnest, their paintings evoke embarrassment as well as desire. They are made of cultural and subjective detritus that jab, joke, and laugh at the self. The work is full – maximal and I inhabit this land of Maximilism where networks of associations makes one wander from edge to edge, from color to color, from drip to drip, from object to object. In much the same way I find myself wandering from site to site in the non-material space of the Internet, or in the way I hope others will wander in the spaces I create.
So- somewhere in the middle of the textures, gestures and the overall formlessness that makes up painting (that special space within which subjectivity thrives) I form connections to the digital virtual world. Perhaps it’s the permeability, the boundary-less-ness of the web—overflowing with information and simultaneous endless connections and associations—that seems so very painterly. Indeed, one of the qualities of painting is its all-over-ness, because to experience a painting is to escape from linearity and simultaneously experience the past (memory), the present, and the future (fantasy). Experience becomes flat –as in systems theory, where flatness is used to describe non-linearity.
My paintings equalize the difference between what is digitally produced and what is painted in order to re- form the relationships between images, shapes, text, textures and spaces, creating a zone in which all relationships are important and all relationships are possible. The internet, like photography, only more so, intensifies the ability of painters to “graze” across one field to another- to see the nomadic wandering of images and so to use and manipulate freely- liberating and multiplying them in order for them to become the zone through which all becomings pass- in order for them to become art. In this way, a painter does not capture images, but transforms then passes them on. A painting as a site in which impressions, images, colors, shapes and textures settle, just for a moment and coalesce into an aggregate of sensations- sensations that illuminate chaos. Sensation is what art forms from chaos. Painting aims to make every organ of the body an eye. The “everything everywhere eye” sees the momentary organization of chaos that makes the invisible visible. To quote Gilles Deleuze “Painting invests the eye through color and line. But it does not treat the eye as a fixed organ. Painting gives us eyes all over- in the ear, in the stomach, in the lungs (the painting breathes). “ Paintings stimulate our experience of life by moving us between being seeing and being- from perceiving to experiencing –taking us from thought to pink and viscous puce and then to gritty brown. When we look at a painting we enter an alternate territory where we experience the ethereal and the corporal simultaneously. The interweb world (it’s space and it’s applications) also creates such a territory. The focus of my investigation is precisely this space where the relationship between painting and the digital realm becomes a site of cultural accumulation, de-territorialized, liberated and fun.