My first love was the imagery of Joan Miró, and I have been mining the rich
vein between abstraction and representation ever since.
Trying to distill visual experience down to words is difficult, but there are two approaches one may take: the visceral,
instinctive, almost subconscious and primitive experience of the image; and, the more analytical evaluation of the formal characteristics of the work. These two are
tightly intertwined, even symbiotic, but distinct in many ways.
In terms of the visceral visual experience, the richest always seems to be the one in which artist provides an initial impetus but
asks the viewer respond as an equal. The image functions as a matrix against which the life experience and ideas of the viewer are drawn out. The image becomes a catalyst
for a conversation, but one that takes place in a space that precedes (or exceeds) words.
In my travels in the valley between representation and abstraction I have gravitated toward the human head as a starting point.
What object has a greater potential for resonance on multiple levels that the human visage? Although the head is more readily apparent
in some of my work than others, I hope that they function as a jumping off point and that several images, references, and allusions, whether intriguing or disturbing, may be experienced
The formal aspects of a work of visual art that I find intriguing touch on themes such as the histories of biomorphic
abstraction and human portraiture; the visual evidence of the process of making the work, whether a painting or a print; and the many counterpoints that can be played off each other,
especially in painting, such as cool vs. warm, transparent vs. opaque, spontaneity vs. deliberation, and colors that are blended on the palette vs. those that are blended by the eye.
In the valley between abstraction and representation, there are streams of practice and theory crossing through biomorphic
abstraction and portraiture that have run through the centuries. The likely most cited early examples are the towering heads on Easter Island. These streams have gained strength and
variety in the modern, postmodern and contemporary eras, and lines can be drawn between artists as diverse as Manet, Matisse and Picasso and the constellation of artists around them, the Bauhaus,
to Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Jim Nutt, and even Hans Bellman, Carroll Dunham and Tom Wesselmann among many others.
With this grand history humming in the background, I try to put together images that at
once contain a lightheartedness and the intimations of a dark subtext. The best Salsa has been described as that which makes you weep in sadness while dancing with joy. As such, the
work I try to make is that which can be 'enjoyed' and which is also somehow disturbing. You can make out the head and some of the features, but perhaps something isn't quite
The visual evidence of the making of the work can add an entire category of experience to the piece. Henri Bergson argued that
time changes experience. The visual evidence of the process of making a painting or print is the physical embodiment of this argument. You can at once see the final image, as well as
see the revisions, thoughts, and changes that led to the finished work, adding a temporal element to what many view as an object that is static in time.
Finally, there are the many counterpoints that can enrich and complicate visual experience.
In my paintings, initial drawings are made with a spontaneous line and thin transparent paint. As the image builds, opaque stumbled colors and translucent washes are added with the
objective of arriving at a complex visual experience that at once sits in a plane but betrays a visual, non-perspectival spatial depth. One can see at once the top thick layer of paint
sitting atop several others and the original thinly painted drawing; the spontaneous form of the image and the deliberate application of paint; colors that have been mixed on the palette and
those that are laid delicately only on the nubs of the canvas weave to create a textile-driven pointillism that allows colors to be blended visually.
In the end, the hope is that images become interesting, perhaps haunting, and that they
reveal or trigger new thoughts and experiences when viewed over time.