“One learns a 'landscape' finally not by knowing the name or identity of everything in it, but by perceiving the relationships in it … like that between the sparrow and the twig.”
It takes me a long time, frequently a year or two, sometimes more, to decide that a painting has been made. It began as a flat physical thing, hanging amongst the fold, dormant in a way, but actively receptive to a slowly accumulating residue of paint, pours and organic processes – building its surface and body, incipient shapes transforming without preconceived direction or intent. Spaces and forms emerge – tentatively – and echo off me, finally making visible the beginning steps into the painting. I am there, but the painting is not yet.
Shapes and structures develop, only to be submerged, becoming substructures of new forms as they appear. Much of what happens in the early stages of a painting are not a visible part of the finished work, yet the evidence of their earlier existence is engrained within the surface, participating in the ongoing experience of the work.
And then, there is the immense frustration of time, time to allow for myself. In the course of a day, so many things present themselves to be seen, addressed, questioned, answered; so many things to be felt, decided. Deep inside the banal requirements and preoccupations of a day stir sensations and impressions that are forever accumulating, collecting, simmering. These latent fragments are the foundations of reverie: they come to the surface, awaken me. My work has to have something grand in its making, in its intent. It has to be about something vastly important to me; things intensely intimate – something that steps up the beat of my heart.
The desire to give substance to things in the world that are not visible – the internal, the emotional, the spiritual – this is at the roots of abstract painting. As I set to work, I can call upon the craft, a craft that has evolved and become so familiar to me over time and practice. But in themselves, painterly devices, like the letters of an alphabet that mean nothing until formed into words, are no more than tools. It is in being put to work, trial and error, adding and subtracting, by establishing relationships, that they become the language of painting. Physically, my process of painting has always suggested building, construction, digging. The image eventually uncovered becomes an externalized possibility through which I can evaluate my own concerns, how I can assess my own location in the world.
Each painting finds its own pacing. With the starts and stops of surface changes the timber and tone of each work resonate differently. Bits of detail begin to affirm their place, more weighted geometric structures and linear frameworks emerge, fragments with intimations of the 'real,' lift themselves out of their abstract world to marka change of passage. The more calculated applications of paint, the deliberate marks, and the precision of drawing often feel like the process of filing, of stacking and layering relationships. Spaces open and close, shifting, transgressing the elusive edgesbetween atmospheric spaces and weighted industrial forms, a slice of neon colour vibrates as though something has just crystallized on the periphery of my vision, threaded into the surface, delineating corridors, and passageways to neighboring spaces, all caught up in a geometric and geographic metamorphosis.
As I grow in age, I often find myself more urgently baffled by the resolution of a painting that has been with me for so long. The exchange has been so...intimate. Why is this work ending now, not yesterday, not tomorrow? I am always glad to be disquieted by a work from my past, to still be engaged by its potential, it’s 'what if?' The work is not finished; I simply had to decide to stop there.
And so it is that each work eventually morphs into something that becomes its own world, somehow real, somehow familiar, somehow questioning and opening to the gaze and exploration of others.