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 …
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.
An enjoyable metaphor within this series of paintings, I feel that the containment offers plenty of tension and the story provides a release from that tension, a sense of optimism in an environment entangled in crosscurrents of conflict, the window of opportunity open to those creatures who respond immediately and decisively to make the leap, enter into the realm of risk, life or death, alive in the moment, immersed and cheek by jowl with their companions in tumultuous waves of probability.
So much more to do and enjoy in the studio! These pieces have taken on a theatrical element that I have enjoyed since traveling to Italy for two months back in 2005, I got immersed in library research, sketching architectural facades and creating some small layered works I referred to as “teatrini”
These little theatrical stage sets provide an arena for dramatic juxtaposition of figures and in this case I like the sense of containment, suggesting that the fish are confined to an aquarium, perhaps bringing to light the idea of their environment encroaching upon their lives due to the many forces at work, even though it is portrayed here as naturalistic.
I’m expanding visually on the themes from the Gone Fission series a year ago, delving into some new silhouettes, new saturated colors in media including inks as well as watercolors, and generally coming full circle to the point where I look forward to once again shooting photos of the works in progress to create more stop-motion video within this humble realm.
Another common thread within this series that continues to fascinate me is the intrigue of compositional tension, the lovely negative spaces defined by pointy fins and seductive curves, with each compositional study there is a joyful sense of blurring those boundaries between representation and abstraction, and I look forward to continuing with that as a recurring component of these multi-layered works.