Piss & Vinegar


Landscape #12: Evening Sunset


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Toward the Indefinable, 2003-Present

In my first two years of graduate school I was making paintings that illustrated the spatial effects of two distinct environments. I was combining into each work what I believed to be an extraction and simulation of the far reaching space experienced in Kansas, near where I grew up in Missouri, and the imposing space found in New York City; the two foremost experiences that could potentially describe my history of spatial observation. The idea was delineated quite literally using opposing visual techniques. It wasn’t until my third year of graduate school that I became increasingly dissatisfied with these works that emphasized observation and the external world. I began to thoroughly question ideas of nature. Was it something more strictly tangible, seen in the landscape or cityscape, or rather something internal at its core, more psychological in my perception and less apparent in surface? I needed a means of working that would shake off the obvious references to the objective world. I wanted to deal more directly with what I realized to be a deeply human content rooted both in fact and visual phenomenon, the material quality of painting itself, as well as with personal emotion. My newly discovered understanding of nature was predominantly metaphysical in presence. (Not to be confused with belief in a divine force.) My attention in all areas of life shifted. I moved away from the current academic and art gallery trends and theories that had more to do with observation. I reviewed the history of nonobjective painting and artist’s writings, philosophy, poetry, and cinema that involved emotion and the expression of the intangible functioning of thought to a greater degree. My thoughts were foremost directed toward furthering my awareness of the unseen content of life, what I believe to be the most compelling force within us, yet the most challenging subject. Painting that has left the boldest impression on my memory has often been emotive or nonobjective in content, more mysterious and elusive in retinal appearance, but never a mere shocking display of optical trickery and illusion. I have always felt a freedom with nonobjective painting that has allowed me to experience art and life more intimately, more exclusively within my mind and not the creator’s. These works have encouraged me to seek a deeper understanding of the nature of myself, therefore of the world. This has to do with the paintings’ lack of specificity directed toward the concrete world and rather toward a specificity of formlessness inherent to abstract emotion and introspective questioning, a psychological content. This too is a factual content, yet more elusive than that which may be observed in the tangible world. Meaning in my work now originates out of the expressive quality and movement of shape and color, and by the manner in which the shape and color is pronounced and situated within the rectilinear formats. Both shape and color possess the unknown factor, the mystery, where I believe the meaning to be concentrated. I am trying to bring this new form into the world, one that is guided by personal and universal content and is specifically recognized as such. I hope the form is unique both in its personality and look, and that it carries with it the indefinable content of life, discovery, and mystery.