“Babel,” Acrylic on canvas. 48”x36
The question I set out to address with this work is: can there be an absolutely representational picture which addresses the mainly formal and expressive concerns which traditionally comprise an abstract picture? As an artist, I have been chiefly occupied with representational art, but there have been times that I’ve wished I could indulge my desire to occasionally practice non-objective painting without sidelining my main line of work.
Depictions of wood, I decided, would be an appropriate vehicle for this art challenge. While the lumber forms create an avenue for constructing compositions, the wood grain provides an opportunity for contained expressionistic gestures. Wood — planks, boards, timbers, etc. — should be the only element existing in these works.
As work progressed, and paintings got underway, I became aware that there was more going on than simply compositions of horizontals, verticals, and diagonals. I was depicting the studio ceilings, the industrial spaces, the raw materials that partially make up the stuff of an artists’ life. And I began to think more about this material I was representing — once-living things extinguished and pressed into a second life of utilitarian service. Examined in this light, the pictures began to take on aspects of the human journey. We are a plank among planks, looking toward the sky and questioning the limitations of the material existence, journeying in a boat, ending in a vault. And the question: can there be any sort of second life for us beyond this tangible world? If so, hopefully, something a bit richer than the afterlife of a tree.