Monday, January 16, 2017

As Memories Fade (oil on canvas, 2016)

One of the important aspects of my artistic process is the concept of plastic (or three-dimensional) space in an image that is essentially flat. Like many artists, I am constantly trying to defy the flatness of the canvas or paper and create the illusion that the image is three-dimensional. Inherent in the struggle is the dichotomy between mass (solid form) and volume (empty space), i.e. the “form” and the “formless”. The shapes, colors, values and textures within an image can suggest either solid matter or empty space, neither of which can exist without the other. This dichotomy exists in the universe, as well. All solid form is surround by emptiness. You can see this easily enough when looking into the night sky and observing the vast emptiness between stars, solar systems and galaxies, but this same emptiness exists even at the the smallest conceivable scale. The same vast emptiness that separates the stars also separates sub-atomic particles. Even the most solid forms are comprised mostly of empty space. And as time marches on all matter changes. The tiniest seed can become a towering tree and mountain can be reduced to dust. Stars die and galaxies are formed out of nothingness.

I’ve realized over the past year that some of the growing dissatisfaction I’ve felt with some of my older work is that the boundaries between areas that appear as solid forms and areas that appear as empty space were sometimes drawn too clearly; that oftentimes the solid forms were given the appearance of permanence and the emptiness a transient quality. People who see my work, especially locals, remark how, by painting certain recognizable structures (old houses, barns, etc.) I have immortalized them. I have often thought about how many of the structures that were subjects for my paintings over the past decade are no longer standing, but live on in my paintings.

But the universe is in a state of constant flux and nothing lasts forever. Not even memories.

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