Somebody else should be writing this. When you want to survey several decades of a painter’s work, you don’t want the subject to be in charge of the narrative. Yet that’s where we are. No one else wants or needs to do this so it falls to me.
The reasons why no writer wants to write about my art aren’t mine to know but I can make a few guesses. The work doesn’t fit well into any trend, fad, or movement of the past thirty-plus years. I’m not associated with an institution such as an art gallery, college, or museum. I’ve not done myself few favors in the ways I’ve interacted with the representatives of the art world. These are some of the factors that spring to mind to explain why this work has been virtually ignored by the press and arts establishment. But this will be the first and last place to mention the critical indifference under which I’ve conducted my varied creative pursuits these many years. I’m at least as bitter as the next guy but wallowing is neither a good look nor very entertaining.
Instead, I’ll try to describe the best I can what I was going for in the selected work. I won’t linger overlong on meaning or significance as I believe those are terrains reserved for the viewer rather than the painter. That’s not to say the paintings and drawings I’ve made mean nothing to me but rather that if I say what I think they’re about, it will influence those seeing them for the first time in possibly unhelpful or limiting ways. The thing about a picture is that it must read simultaneously through the eyes and the mind without the guidance of language. When I go to a museum, for instance, I hardly ever read the wall text. When I do it’s on a second or third go-around. What I want is an immediate experience. That’s what I wish for anyone that looks at my pictures too.
So I’m starting this book with two strikes against me: the wrong writer of a thing that maybe shouldn’t be written. But I’m doing it anyway. The reason is simple: I absolutely believe I’ve done enough good work to merit a book-length survey. Most of these pictures a long gone, sold or given away years ago. So the only way to experience so many of them together is via the internet. A screen is probably the worst way to look at a painting. The scale is lost, the colors are never accurate, there’s no context of any kind that survives the translation from canvas to pixel. An art book is hardly an ideal vessel for pictures but it has many advantages over the screen, chief among them being tangibility. The reproduction on the page can’t be shrunk or expanded or combined with a million other images. It may not be a perfect representation of the object it illustrates but it is an attempt to capture just that one discreet thing.
So, within the restrictions of the form, short of traveling to all the private homes that house the originals, I think a book is the best way to look through a representative sample of what I’ve been up to since the 1980s.
I designed a pin for Cine-FILE. Not sure whether they’re selling or giving them away but I’d bug Kat and/or Ben at the site if you’d like one.