Recent Thoughts 2020

Authenticity of experience of the human condition and Emergence of the Self

How do you turn emotion into knowledge
Ornette Coleman

When there’s nothing to do do nothing
Karen Kamensek conductor of Akhnaten

We are the beings whose being is in question John Vervaeke

I am attempting to transform and communicate my continually evolving soul states into aesthetic experiences-holding the belief that that is an absolute good for me as well as for those who are able to access enjoy identify and appreciate these experiences in my art.

In the early Convergence paintings there are four symmetrical wedge shapes with paint flowing outwards from the center to the right and left and top and bottom. These paintings are a very structured assertion of being coming after years of psychological collapse in which I was a burnt out shell of a human being, passed hopelessness and passed despair.

After integrating the strength and centeredness from the early Convergence paintings, paintings like She and Da and Shadow of the Primal Father and Affair were an act of actualizing from the chthonic mud that we all share and through painting it seeing through and beyond it.

The Emergence paintings which came next only after I had integrated the Convergence paintings were a celebratory expression of rebirth. The primal star shaped bio-organism-like central image in these paintings is propulsive with an awakened sense of becoming and aliveness.

A part of all these paintings is their poetic relationship to time - sometimes flowing streaming expanding sometimes dramatically exclaiming the dark mystery of time and sometimes so alive it shoots forth. There was a great drama in these series-they evolved out of a deep intense psychological need and were an avenue towards profound growth and new beginnings.

The paintings labeled Gifts to the Universe that proceeded after the Emergence paintings are about stepping into a world space-a cosmic world space as well as the deep vast internal complex of us.

These 7 years of paintings are the most information dense paintings so far that I have attempted. They are also the most cognitively informed as well as a whole hearted response to a group of paintings I saw by an American-Canadian fellow artist in Ontario circa 1971. My response was that I began to dramatically shift my emotional and cognitive realities-reflected in my studio practice to plumb deeper into inner being.

The cognitive background for these paintings was more than two decades of reading layman’s books on relativity theory, quantum physics, astrophysics, psychology and higher states of consciousness as well as some really wonderful science fiction.

The paintings are layered - each paint layer differently applied. From a chthonic pouring to spraying solid color of masked quadrilaterals to a kind of ephemeral linear spraying. The significance of each layer is different. The pour references dense materiality, the very physicalness of being. Because there are no straight lines in nature the quadrilaterals reference our mental processes. But also their groupings with multiple perspective points is a poetic reference to the time-space continuum of relativity theory and our newer understanding of gravity. Finally the linear spray which from 1985 on was the final element added creates an evanescent almost spiritual scrim through which one sees through to the whole painting.

The visual comprehension of the differently painted and separate layers creates an expansive deep and unique experience that makes for a complex compounded emotionally and intellectually dense poetic painting.

We participate in making ourselves and after my joyous seven years with this series and exploring these visual/intellectual problems, the inspiration dried up I think because the problems posed were essentially absorbed.

What I did next was to purposely jump into the sea of painting purely intuitively which after a little more than a year led me to meditation and that then became the vehicle for my evolving intuitive approach.

Over a decade later with a very solid meditation practice and a guru I created a composition that was so compelling that I repeated it with only minimal changes of color and texture for four years-the Stillpoint Series. It was a distillation and visualization of what meditation was for me up till then.

Four years into this series in 2008 my Mother died suddenly while I was vacationing. Because I had no closure as I had with my Father who died with all of us at his hospital bedside after a prolonged illness years before, I immediately stopped the Stillpoint paintings and began to paint my grieving for my Mom. I did this for five years and the progression from deep mourning gradually yielded to a new open space in which I used the vocabulary that I had created for painting my grief to now be used for a kind of hybrid abstraction that has a central poured image and one or more discs.

I’m beginning to understand this new direction as one in which the expanded meditative space I was getting at in the Stillpoint paintings became the profoundly important background for an existential drama between a central poured spirit-like presence and the disc or discs with their primal moon sun planet-ness. The New Chapter paintings. The simplicity of parts allowed for renewed ebullient color interactions (as a young art student I most immediately resonated with Matisse and Fauvism). The relationship between sprayed background field, disc and poured central figure is story-like, anecdotal with color and composition melding in an airy open ended visual experience.

The New Chapter paintings and the Waking Up paintings that came after are similar in some obvious ways and different in some ways that create a qualitatively different experience. The discs importantly are bigger and placed symmetrically on either side of the poured figure/presence in the Waking Up paintings. Because of this the composition creates an immediacy and a kind of frontal all at once experience of background field discs and poured figure. The background field is less of a place of visual gentle airiness but part of a more dynamic complex of color interactions that operate on a subjective and non-verbal expressive level that is much more potent and expansive. The poured central figure in both the New Chapter and the Waking Up paintings has roots in the 1980’s Convergence paintings and the Grief and After paintings and importantly there is an underlying element of soul struggle inherently in these spirit forms. The artistic movement from the symmetrical meditative Stillpoint paintings through to the symmetrical Waking Up paintings is at the same time a measure of the successes of my deepening spiritual practice but also an integral part of that practice itself.

Finally the new central single disc paintings are the presenting of the disc as a primal mystery with emotive color relationships between disc, background, and horizontal mist-like band. The strength of the compositional simplicity with the strong and dynamic color interaction gives these paintings a hereness and nowness and a centering and opening out of awareness that is open hearted and optimistic. The color work-which is essential to their success-is post Matisse post Morris Louis post Kenneth Noland, but the substance is post Mondrian and post Agnes Martin.