I’m always negotiating an equally strong attraction towards abstraction and representation in the studio. They each have very particular pleasures for me as a painter, and with every new body of work I make, I like to invent different means of dovetailing them. My current work adds to the mix a further vexing of the picture plane with the addition of cut-outs and holes in the wood panel I paint on, and areas of sanded plexiglass.
The work process I’ve developed includes routinely flipping and reconfiguring the multiple panels that constitute each painting. I like how this confounds any direct path to a finished piece, keeping the studio energized and the work open to surprise. When I rearrange a painting’s panels, images abruptly gather together or fly apart; new forces and movements crossing the painting’s surface or penetrating its fictive space must suddenly be wrangled. During the development of a body of work, meanings and intentions will shift, and the paintings that might have been will be sloughed off, their energy absorbed. Most of the paintings of a new body of work will still be in flux until the last six months before its completion.
I love what’s involved in painting representationally – the close observation and concentration required to translate looking, through paint, into a record of having seen. A Manet flower in its vase, a lady’s ear in a Sargent portrait, the brocade of a Holbein robe – these things remind me that paint on a flat surface can be magic. But my first crush as a serious student of painting was Abstract Expressionism, and for me being a painter is still about that in-the-moment engagement with the developing image, with the possibility of upheaval and radical re-envisioning always near – invited and necessary.