Statement

Statement on the current work

I have come to realize — belatedly — that at the heart of my work is the issue of identity. The Mandala series were about my ethnic identity — the crossing of Eastern and Western cultures that I embody. The current work — a series of small, geometric, non-referential gouache and marker drawings — are more personal. They speak to the presentation of the self.

People are complex, layered: we are comfortable with certain aspects of ourselves which we foreground or project outwardly; keeping in the distance, obscured, layered — aspects of ourselves that feel more tender, vulnerable, private. My current work speaks to the choices we make in what we reveal, how much, and when.

Alternately the drawings can be looked at as being about the time it takes to acquire knowledge, information, acquaintanceship. We are taken in by the large, bright, obvious aspects of people and things. Truly getting to know somebody or something is a slow process. Often we are fooled by the presentation — people, after all, are known to lie to themselves. Thus it takes time and we discover things in layers; it takes discernment and long exposure to perceive the deeper truths.

These drawings are about the slow process of unveiling, recognizing, seeing, knowing and understanding.

 

The Mandala Series

My paintings fuse pictorial language from three different cultural and religious traditions – Eastern Hindu-Buddhist, Middle Eastern Islamic, and European Judeo-Christian. I do not make religious art: I view my work as entirely secular. But secularism does not preclude the spiritual, the contemplative, the mystical, or the sacred. If pressed I would admit I think all art making is devotional. I believe when we are telling stories, singing, dancing, drawing, carving, we are directly engaged in spiritual activities that takes us out of time into a different realm.

Sumptuous, intricate, ornamented, my oil paintings are richly referential – they call to mind a range of associations from mandalas, the cosmos, cells, lace, brocade and more. I align myself with the long tradition of geometric and floral ornamentation the Far Eastern, Middle Eastern, and European craftsmen have long employed. They did so with the implicit understanding that pattern and repetition, which are endemic in nature, are primal in their rhythmic connection to the human nervous system.

My recent works on paper speak more of inner worlds. They are small, intimate, airy, and delicate; they refer to the ways we hide and reveal ourselves — 

I identify my work with the long tradition of visual artists interested in notions of cosmology. I am, as my friend the artist Thomas Lyon Mills says, painting worlds within worlds with the aim of revealing profound, contemplative, slow, truths.