As a rule, artist statements tend to seek a balance between a need for justification for the rigors of creative production as weighed against outcome. It is difficult for any artist to have a clear sighted view of how well a group of works will perform on an impartial stage. As well, in many cases the work itself bears little comparison with the verbal portrait which the statement provides, illustrating the temporal divide between inception and final resolution, that is, the point at which the work passes into the public sphere.
In a general sense, late 19th and 20th C art has moved toward a more verbal consciousness, that is, the artist position has come to exist as not only an interpreter of the world visually, but has moved beyond the camera obscura to visual encoding. What we know about artistic process is removed from what we know about culture, but as curious beasts we try to reconstruct the creative moment from its social manifestation backward to its singular event.
In terms of the studio practice itself, the working process exists before the culling and curatorial organization of the artist works before they appear in exhibition. It is the exhibition which gives context and reveals the nature of the artists preoccupations.
Take for example:
“The consistency in my work lies in the expressive struggle to use the image as a bridge between the felt and the observed.”
This is an uncluttered encryption of the issues relevant to my practice. It attempts to define the perameters of my creative process while describing in simple terms how i feel about what I do. As a metadescription it needs no elaboration but can be used as origin for debate.
The Move Toward Cohesion
Presentation of finished works incurs the development of external signifiers. From my own perspective see the following key terms:
Expressionism- That which is internally driven, cognitive and emotive in nature. That which seeks to displace convention. Has roots in gothic art and architecture. A movement toward “style”.
Romanticism- Not necessarily personally significant or nostalgic in nature, but generally concerned with a kind of adherence to classical formulas of aesthetics. Not limited to 19th C conventions, but includes notions of beauty, composition, form, etc, and relies on observation of natural form. Offshoots in naturalist philosophy.
My source of imagery comes from the familiar world, and from identifications or appropriations. These images either fit within my own established sets of identification, or serve to expand beyond the confines of the familiar. In any case, they cannot help but be drawn from personal experience and are autobiographical or topical in nature and reflect a sense of place while attempting to avoid the prosaic. The works include a range of material spanning figurative and landscape. In the production there tend to be periods of disengagement and then reconnection in the development of what I consider the “finished” pictures. In moving toward these “finished” pictures I find often the goal is a process of reduction toward a simplicity or purity of the idea, in the manner of reduction from the outwardly representational to its emotive core.
Part of my production involves having contact with a range of subject. Being non-serial in nature; I most often feel each work has to struggle for its own authenticity. As well, periodic detachment from the development of ongoing themes necessitates the need for fresh viewpoint, and the avoidance of perceptual or conceptual closure on an idea or formal presentation of an idea. As well, there is so much going on around me; but it is impossible to get it all. At the point where for one reason or another the picture signals termination of the process it moves into its own sphere of performance.
From the standpoint of my studio practice I find myself continually in center field, attempting to bridge two seemingly polarized positions. Perhaps this is the root of my own creative energies as well as limitations; the struggle to combine a tendency toward abstracted descriptions of the world (expressionism) with elements rooted in a more empathetic merging with elements of the world. This is visible in transference issues involved in landscape (naturalism), and portraiture and the human form (romanticism). It might be worthwhile pointing out here that although my naturalist representation seeks to diminish stylistic formulations in search of truthfulness in representation, expressive tendencies find outlet in mannerisms of brushwork, the interplay of suggestive and descriptive passages, an awareness of contemporary influence, and the need to loosen closed narrative in favour of a more associative looseness through use of painterly application. My disparity of artistic direction might consider the observation attributed I think to Goethe that the closest merging of the gothic (roots of expressionism) and the classical come about in the baroque period. Do my works reflect baroque mannerisms?
It is a satisfying experience to be able to deconstruct the “exhibition” paradigm. A certain amount of closure occurs when the work is able to be shown in a way which allows the experience of the works consistencies, range of concerns or pure sensibilities uncluttered by external forces. In that regard the choice of venue becomes a party to the process of contextualisation, and ultimate validation. It is at this point that engagement occurs, and although the artists vulnerability and exposure do operate as a component of self-representation the work must stand alone.
Sackville, July 9