Today I installed this new exhibition at Joe Squared restaurant and bar (North Avenue, Baltimore, where I have been going since they opened ten years ago across the street from my old studio building, this show has been a long time in development and I am super excited about it.
Twenty-two paintings from three different series of these aquatic art works spanning the past year and a half, a lot of brand-new work exhibited here for the first time, and all for sale at prices from $100 to $300 … see more posts below for details
More pix coming soon, please stop by and check it out, reception date to be announced …
This intricate machinery underlying civilization demonstrates interconnectedness, granularity and the inherent conflict resulting from a wrench in the works, another street art-inspired howl from the denizens of the deep, even as they/we harness the frustration of containment and continue in pursuit of learning.
I look for patterns of movement within the painted surface, to bring out the silhouettes of fish I can see there as if they were already swimming in that space, and use color to enhance those patterns and establish a sense of natural movement, in this process of composition is the wabi-sabi of technical inclinations and gestural intuition, and it makes me want to swim with the fish.
An intimate look at an imaginary aquatic world, fish drifting over the manufactured reef of industrial artifacts, their altered habitat for the foreseeable future, unnatural yet beautiful in its own disconcerting way.
Playing with scale, saturated colors and some street-art inspired techniques, I created this vision of the aquasphere where the fish camouflage themselves to blend in with the accumulation of industrial machinery discarded to meld with the coral reef, it is surrealistic yet plausible in today’s world.
Here is a large intense piece completed in late 2014, recently included in my solo exhibition Aquasphere: Immersion at the Waldorf School of Baltimore.
A dark environment, visually and metaphorically, these creatures are lost and encapsulated in the turmoil resulting from centuries of assault by human industry, yet there is still a beautiful optimism and clarity in the undersea world.
I can almost feel the indifference of nature, the fish will adapt to any environmental invasion no matter how bizarre, they will evolve, mutate and thrive without passing value judgements, but we know there are alternatives, conservation efforts no matter how inadequate will continue to grow in order to try and mitigate the damage.
Meanwhile the fish keep swimming through their altered state, bright colors and high contrast provide connotations of radioactivity and electromagnetic fields, an underwater urban environment neutralized by rising sea levels, giant fish thriving in the post-apocalyptic Atlantis that represents one possible future.
Within a brightly-colored school of ten fish, my eye will naturally travel throughout the painting and ultimately I will identify, subconsciously or otherwise, one particular creature that stands out and is in turn symbolic of some aspect of my psychology or personality. Shadows on the cave wall, kill or be killed, hunt and gather, swim towards the light.
This painting is a good example of things coming together, the underlying piece emerged in my studio last fall as the finale of a lengthy series of about fifty studies on paper, and the combination of composition, color palette and mood express the beauty and irony inherent in this series.
Meaning that the conditions of the undersea habitat create an environment that is both beautiful and haunting, hospitable and deadly, and the emotions of the fish swimming in the ocean are the same emotions we humans feel in our own tumultuous wild world of consensus reality.
By applying another handful of painted cut-outs on top of the main composition I have made it more crowded and multi-layered, while also using some flatter colors against the more complex underlying paint work to create shadow play that paradoxically rests on top of the layer underneath.
This to me is where the psychological implications are brought to light, I feel that my own preoccupations with what’s going on in society are naturally shared by many people, and the idea of social justice rests upon a framework of relationships, in a crowded world we need to push for our collective goals or we risk getting caught up in the swirling vortex of broader currents we cannot control, in other words activism is essential yet we must also go with the flow.
So this is the type of painting that upon completion inspires me to want to do another dozen or a hundred more because I feel like I am on to something, to any viewer it might be a useful statement or a nice piece of decorative art or a profound psychological commentary, but to me it is a piece of the puzzle and reminds me that I am on the right track, applying my time in the studio to the exploration of important questions and occasionally being rewarded by something that looks like a valuable answer.
I express through this painting a sense of intensity conveyed through a scenario of encroachment, perhaps there is irony in the idea that the ocean could feel crowded, what might be close quarters for people probably feels like safety in numbers to fish in a school, yet visually within these layers and near collisions the idea comes across that our interconnectedness does indeed have both positive and negative connotations, for the most part there is a joyful noise yet we often seek some respite from the constant rush and bustle, this dualistic sensibility makes it perplexing yet exuberantly sought after to dive in and revel in the depths of experience.