I won’t get much work done in the studio today, but this might be a good time to communicate some of my artistic intentions. Meaning, I should begin to communicate what I’m attempting to do with my art.
Historically (see some old stuff below and in later posts), my work has been about the way we connect - with each other and with the world at large - commentaries on who we are as a people and how we interact. They are great pictures. Exciting. Layered in content. Well constructed color use and composition. And that’s all well and good but they ultimately became the product of a dangerous artistic pitfall. The pitfall I speak of is when a painter (or any artist) starts to use his art as psychotherapy. The art becomes too self-contained, and stops being the reflection of society that art should be. The art was still focusing on connectedness and interactions, but it became entirely personal. I was answering my own questions without regard for the world at large. Who loved me? Who didn't? Who hurt me? I was pulling a Picasso, tying my artistic productivity to the muses that drove my heart. Only I was doing it 70 years late, and it was it bit tired. I mean it's so predictably collegiate. So unabashedly self-involved. Me. Me. Me. The 32 year old cynic looks back at the 22 year old idealist and cringes. On a more sentimental note though, when I look back on that work it does seem kind of brave. Naively so, but brave none the less. In the end though, that sort of expressionistic schtick can get pretty tired, and tiring. Who wants to wear his heart on his sleeve every day of his life? Worse still, who wants to watch a guy wear his heart on his sleeve every day of his life!?
So what about now? I still want the work to have heart. Art should. No matter how cynical or analytical it gets, it has to care about something. No one listens if it isn't genuine. Even the darkest satire and most bitter commentary comes from a position of caring. I still spend a lot of time considering how we connect, but I don’t need to spend hours expounding on how I feel about those connections. Not really my thing anymore.
But let's get back to the point. Intentions. If all that history is the foundation that I have laid, then what do I build on it? I have a few ideas.
- OFFER AN INTELLIGENT AND FRESH POINT OF VIEW. All artists offer a perspective on the topics they address. Some are really interesting and fresh. They start us thinking. They make us reconsider. They challenge us to change our own points of view. Some...do not. There are artists who regurgitate tired old ideas and offer up points of view that are blatantly obvious and painfully trite. I think that anyone who makes art should really consider what they're putting into the world.
- USE PAINT. Only an art geek who loves his materials too much can possibly understand this. I don’t just mean use in the most basic sense of the word; I mean it in every sense of the word. Paint is capable of achieving so much, and I want to show paint in all of its manifestations, with all its visual possibilities, without limiting or restraining it for the sake of style or composition. I want to finesse it. I want to contort it. I want to bitch slap it. I want to give it a big hug.
- DEFY CONVENTION WHILE RESPECTING TRADITION. Is that possible, or is it an immediate contradiction? Can I challenge and rethink, while respecting and upholding? I think I can. The breaking of rules while respecting the unbreakable laws of painting is the exact formula followed by every painter that's ever made a difference in Painting with a capital P. The envelope must be pushed. The line must be crossed. The status quo has to be looked in the eye and told to fuck off.
- MAKE AWESOME PICTURES. REALLY? A painter who wants to make cool pictures? That is just crazy talk! Honestly though, the pictures I want to paint are right here in my mind. I see them. Everyday, they fill my head with swirling colors and shapes; with images of our world; with words; with thoughts, and they are awesome. I just need to get them out so everyone else can see them.
College and After (1998-2001)
Mr. Happy Pants, 1998