It seems to me that in the present moment there is some adventure to be had in painting’s potential to find beauty in unlikely places. Most recently I am interested in working with a kind of compromised portraiture. With a bratty idea lifted from a punk rock album cover, I have started a series of large scale portraits, the heads of all the figures in the paintings upside down, sideways or out of scale.
These are physical paintings, allowing color, surface, imagery and allusion to vie for effect. The author’s intentions, the materiality of paint, the history embedded in the work, the allusions to art history and other familiar imagery, the figures themselves all complicate the matter of what are these paintings about. And, while it is frequently possible to say this painting is an allegory for this, or this object is a symbol for that, it might not be that useful to do so.
“Be a sadist.” Kurt Vonnegut once advised, “No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of." The collage-like interruption challenges any notion of authority typically expressed in a typical portrait painting. It is an absurd gesture, a statement in need of being redeemed, and a significant challenge to the viewer’s ability to establish a sense of empathy for the figures in the paintings. My work as a painter then is to entangle the actual paintings in a mix of seductions and distractions: emotions, empathy, allusions, evocations and visual inventions that find beauty in a flawed and vulnerable place.