Statement

I have come to realize — rather belatedly — that I paint about identity. The Mandala series were about 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 of the presentation of the self.

As people we are complex and layered. We are comfortable with certain aspects of ourselves that we foreground or project in our interaction with others; keeping obscured, layered, in the distance, aspects of ourselves that feel more tender, vulnerable, private. The drawings speak 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, real acquaintance. We are taken in by the large, bright, obvious aspect of people and things. Truly getting to know somebody or something is a slow process. It takes time: often we are fooled by the presentation, — people are specially complex and we are known to fool ourselves — thus we discover things in layers; it takes discernment and long exposure to perceive the inner layers.

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

 

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.