What differentiates painting and sculpture from décor, and how is it decided which takes precedence?
Perhaps that distracting dichotomy lies in the nature of visual cognition; what you see is what you get, or if I may be so presumptuous; at least what the salon provides for perceptual priorities.
You are what you’re used to eating.
More adventurous artistic endeavors may seem anathema to the essentially ornamental purpose of pampered decoration meant to embellish an otherwise dreary environment.
But then again unencumbered mark making was good enough for the cavemen at Lascaux. (talk about site specific!)
That the purely pretty alone should suffice for art collecting in the modern cave does not add up in my mind. Like the cavemen, I make art that might not be matchy matchy with the sofa, but will wreak its own elegantly iconoclastic version of interior design.
I hope this doesn’t sound like unmitigated hubris or egotistical posturing. I’m just going on my own sense of historical precedence. My work has always been about my own limitations.
I’ve never been a virtuoso; just a grind-it-out, seat-of-my-pants kind of artist. I prefer the hands-on ethic of vigorous, yet nuanced craft that proposes an interpretative aesthetic.
With my work, what you see depends on how thoroughly you look. Recognition of merit in the unfamiliar requires patience and perseverance.
I’ve built my oeuvre based on decades of cumulative momentum. The more I’ve stuck with it the more accomplished I’ve become at enveloping my art in a substantive mixture embodying textured layers of sensuous psyche and physical pulsation.
Chroma and atmosphere saturate my painting, imbuing compositions with an expansive spatial perspective. Loose pigment is coupled with tightly drafted, curvilinear edifices lending a formal element to the picture plane.
This painterly philosophy encompasses my neo representational “Mainescape” plein air works on paper to rough-hewn “Beach Rope” sculptures who’s principle ingredients are salvaged lobstering gear and driftwood from the shores of downeast Maine.
These multi-hued tangles of knotted beach rope are cleaned, sorted and applied to driftwood in a congruent manner. The laborious process of wrapping, gluing and stapling satisfy a fundamental urge to physically assemble a combination of man-made and natural detritus. The variety of beach rope’s weathered palette, layered onto lengths of driftwood compliment my painted images chromatically, and refer to African and outsider sources. These sculptures suggest an implicit virility rooted in figurative association.
With stenciling I’ve found there’s an “automatic” quality to painting in or around a physical boundary such as tape. When the intricate web of tape is removed it reveals unexpectedly energetic trails of pigment criss-crossing the surface. Such a process-oriented approach instigates a lively dialogue with my freehand marks, and corresponds metaphorically to my fascination with the micro/macro aspects of quantum and cosmological poetry.
The landscape in my art manifests largely through my “Mainescape”, watercolor and oil pastel works on paper and panel. Done mostly in and around Acadia National Park in Maine, these pieces are immersed in the immediacy of atmospheric effect, the oceanic tableau, and rugged rocky coastline.
This intimacy with nature has invigorated and informed my studio oil paintings. Although the plein air works tend to be more traditionally representational, the paintings more muscular gestures distill the representation of nature into an elemental yet ethereal montage.
So ultimately what should a discriminating eye be focusing on?
I enjoy eye candy on the 4th of July as much as the next kid, but when it comes to an enduring investment I go for a more in-depth sense of pictorial integrity and authentic artistic identity.
And I think that it looks good on the wall.