2003 – 2006
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I sense these still lifes are self-portraits. Lone, forlorn cups or bowls, gussied up after a hard day’s labor, float in milky, ambiguous spaces. Sometimes, the cups and bowls embrace, in pairs and groups along with a rag or a brush, or stand apart, as if ready for battle. Paint splotches, smears, smudges, drips, and daubs cover all the paintings. But such marks also exist in a world outside the paintings, as details of the artist’s Working Painters and Models series, themselves paintings with, or on carpets that hang from the wall and stretch into the space on which we, the viewer, stand and stare. Are the painted marks in these still lifes elegiac representations of marks previously soaked up by the works they depict? Or do they refer to nothing beyond themselves, as the mere residue of the work of representation? It really doesn’t matter, for here the real, the represented, and the residue that results all come so close as if almost to touch. In two of the eleven paintings, valedictions appear: “Very truly yours,” or “Yours, Love.” The artist addresses us politely, but what remains from the epistolary messages is that moment when the artist bids us farewell. No doubt a sly reference to the spent belief that the author is dead (or dying), it also suggests time hereafter. For an uncanny firmament remains in the place of the artist’s name —a self-centered, if subtle attempt at immortality.
Los Angeles, 2008
On one hand, Stills evolves from my preoccupation with painting what already exists in paint, as did my earlier landscapes and portraits of clowns and geishas; on the other hand, it elaborates on my inquiry into the boundaries separating real from pictorial space. My concern is not the one that drove Rauschenberg to bridge “the gap between art and life,” but rather to test the scope of such a gap. My strategy is to bring into the realm of the picture the carpeting extensions that I earlier used as framing devices to establish and guide the transition from actual to virtual space. My stained, furry “frames” are brought into the picture to become Morandi-inspired still lives. Paint merely represents paint and articulates space, as it does, out of traces, stains, spills, and drops.