NO IDEA – Paintings from the Pandemic
Right before the everything shut down back in March, I was lucky to be able to get to the art store to pick up a roll of canvas. I had just been laid off from building sets for film and television and was staring down the barrel of who knew how much time off. I needed something to do with my time. How much time? No idea. So, I stapled a piece of the canvas to the wall of my studio and got to work. Each layer of paint shrank as it dried, pulling against the staples holding it to the wall, making wrinkles and ridges. Successive layers only served to accentuate those marks, deepening them, making them a permanent part of the work, a memory of its genesis. That was the beginning of the first piece that I painted for this show, “Memories of Genesis”.
Incredibly, it’s now been six months. These 28 pieces are the result of that time. All of them have been painted, re-painted or, in the case of the Mixed Wood Mashups, assembled during this pandemic. They are then a record of what I have been thinking about consciously or unconsciously during this unprecedented time. So, what do these pieces have to say about where we are or where we are going? No idea.
Which is kind of the point. Working without an idea is exactly the way I like to paint. I like to try and remove my self and my conscious thoughts from the process and just work intuitively – responding to what the work presents, helping it become what it is wants to be. I find that my best work happens when I can get out of my own way. When I am working at my best, no idea is exactly the idea that I am going for: to paint something without painting it on purpose.
Of course after the work is done and I’m staring at it and seeing all kinds of things in there, and trying to come up with a title, then I start to see what the piece is about, then I start to have some ideas of what I was up to, and what the piece is trying to say. Which, apparently, is all sorts of peculiar things: cave mouths, stellar nurseries, blooming gardens, the mall from Back to the Future, stretch marks, gemstone mines, what Jesus did after he died, Wordsworth’s lonely cloud, skipping film stock and glitching memory, lizard wizards, the startling bursts of red willow down at the Leslie Spit in the spring, a carpet made of potassium feldspar, remixed paintings and double cyclopes. What do all of these things have in common? Again, no idea.
But it feels like there is something there. They feel tied together, they feel cohesive somehow, but more on an emotional level than an intellectual one. Which is how I have been experiencing this time. I don’t understand it, but I sure do feel it. And whether or not we understand the times we are living in; whether we have any idea about when they will end or what life will look like afterward, we can’t escape being marked by them on our bodies and our minds. Here then are the marks these times have left on me.