Fun and Games

‘Fun and Games’ serves as an elliptical inquiry into the duality of artifice and truth as it extends into the real world. I am interested in how something can be sensible, particularly from the standpoint of safeness, threat and risk. Namely, I’m interested in how something may be conceived and perceived both physically and  psychologically. Employing the use of illusion – both literal and figurative – found in painting , I am exploring the question of how the world  is imagined.

By ‘Fun and Games’, I mean playing around with images and ideas, of arranging things in order to set up playful conflicts and then seeing what happens. For instance, I have a painting of a determined woman wearing a feathered jumpsuit and flailing in a blur of arms at an oversized flightless bird. This absurd scenario of implied threat takes place in a tilting tropical setting embellished with areas of lurid paint scribbles. The figures are carefully rendered in a kind of 19th century academic way, which lends the image a whiff of romantic drama and grandiose authority, yet the vividly colored narrative runs counter to the high-mindedness and delicate aestheticism typical of  academic figurative painting.

 

‘Fun and Games’ is a collection of such paintings. In fabricating images that have figures, exotic landscapes, areas of pure abstraction, and ‘still life’ objects as diverse as stuffed parrots and whirling propellers, I celebrate the allure of technical showmanship and the regressive egotism of riskily attempting a painted masterpiece. Conversely, though the effort is serious and quite difficult, I also explore the spirit of triviality and idiocy as found in the superb craftsmanship required of well painted romance novel covers and Mad magazine illustration. I’m very interested in contradictory impulses, so that the tension between what seems to be serious and what seems to be foolish is a critical factor in my work. How something is deemed serious or foolish is often phrased as a question of how sensible it is for a respectably normal person to ‘do something like that’. My paintings contain various images of benignly threatening situations, and collectively act as a fun-filled meditation on risk and how it relates to the question of what is sensible, both in terms of what is understandable, and also in terms of what is acceptable according to convention.

By choosing to paint in oil on canvas, I am recalling a sensible tradition of image making which has always grappled with notions of truth. With this in mind, I tinker with the old dictum that nature must be the artist’s guide in finding the truth. In my paintings, I represent aspects of physical and biological nature transformed in order to fabricate oxymoronic environments that are both synthetic and natural at the same time. Animals may appear as animate toys and   landscape may appear as a series of painted stripes so that nature itself becomes an artifice. Within such habitats, each character must sort out the peculiar truth of whatever hazard or conflict it faces. As the viewer takes in each painting, I would like to imagine a similar mental process taking place – that is, a sense of vaguely threatening bafflement followed by a slowly emerging sense of comprehension.