September 20, 2014

some thoughts about the India paintings

[notes from a gallery talk at Canyon Road Contemporary on Sept. 19, 2014]

thanks to Nancy Leeson and CRCA for inviting me to do this work
thanks to my partner in art and love Elisabeth for encouraging me to do it my way…
thanks for coming out to look…
the paintings don’t need words
and I’m not going to give you many…
but here are three things I might say about them…

1. these are studies of scenes from everyday life…
I love India and there are some aspects of these images that are typically Indian, but I think what interests me the most about them is that they are typically human: parents hold hands with their children, friends with these gestures of warmth.
One of the things I love about India is that most every aspect of daily life is visible and out in the open.

2. I’ve tried to keep these paintings very direct and honest.
To me that means I’ve worked on them until they communicate an honest feeling. I’m not trying to make them more than what they are. So in painting these I kept asking myself if they were speaking; if they were carrying a sense of life and mystery. I found that sometimes I painted right over that sense… and had to stop and go back to something more simple; sometimes more detail, more color, meant less emotional clarity.

3. and finally I want to try to say something I’m not sure how to say:
there is something else about India that I love very much and that is an acknowledgment of mystery as a part of life. I’ve thought a lot about that as a painter and I’ve come to think that the access to this sense of openness and freedom only comes indirectly. I can’t say: let me see you and then get this picture of spiritual depth; I can’t resort to visual cues that say “mystery” or the painting becomes something like a visual cliché.
So, for me, the only way to approach this thing I sense in India is to return, again and again to the ordinary and the common. It’s here that the mystery can speak most clearly.

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