Statement (2014)
Statement (2009)
Lamps (2007)
Light and Colour (2006)
Light and Reality (2002)
Prison Series (2000)
Negative Space, Light Patterns and Shadows (1999)
Statements (2014)
In JK Huysman’s novel A Rebours, the main character, Esseintes, becomes for a time, in his endless search for new experiences, obsessed with flowers; initially with flowers that suggest a resemblence to other phenomena, then with artificial flowers that resemble real ones, and finally with real flowers that resemble artificial flowers.
Deploying a flat, hard-edged application of paint, the paintings investigate how shadows and light patterns behave within an architectural context. Inverting reality, by focusing on the shadow, rather than the object that casts it, a connection is made to Esseintes’ flowers. The shadow becomes the main subject of its reflection. Arbitrary colour is used to construct tension between positive and negative space, while the flatness of the surface counteracts the illusion of depth, foregrounding the duality between the artificial and the real.
The idea of making something real that looks fake – like Esseintes’ flowers – also stands for the idea that we currently live in a reality that is more about what is represented than what is actually occurring. Many individuals’ construction of their self is created more and more by their online presence. It’s more important what our status bar says we are up to, than what we are actually doing; we spend more time attending to our Facebook friends than our real friends; and we craft what we say on Twitter more than what we say to the person next to us. What we appear to be is more important than who we are. Perhaps we are so obsessed by what we appear to be because we are afraid there is nothing apart from this appearance – there is no object that casts the shadow – merely the shadow casting itself.
Statements (2009)
My work takes as its source material light patterns and shadows that fall onto man-made, built environments. A great deal of my imagery is taken from domestic settings. Light falls onto walls, tables, mirrors, TVs, etc and is refracted, causing shadows that, once abstracted, can be read in a myriad of ways.
In my more recent work, I have closed in on the subject, focusing on a small section of the original imagery. The viewer is asked to decipher not only what the shapes are, but which is the positive and which is the negative, forcing more attention onto the formal aspects and suggesting new rhythms and patterns, leaving interpretation open.
The idea of repetition is an important element in my work; when I use a shadow or light pattern in an image, it is already two steps removed from reality. The work is a 3rd version of a 2nd version of the object itself. With each version, the object becomes more and more skewed, exposing the subjectivity of perception.
Taking the subject from domestic settings comments on the separation we experience inside our individual spaces, separated from each other to preserve the idea of our autonomy. This is amplified by the choice of technique: smooth, perfectly hand-applied paint and distinct taped-out sections reflecting the almost machine-like perfection that we demand of ourselves as well as the isolation inherent in living in contemporary Western society. The Green Error Complex paintings reflect on this quest for perfection as well as relating to the built environment around us. These are refracted, repeated, pared-down aspects of our compartmentalized lives thrown up at ourselves, almost like seeing parts of ourselves reflected in a broken mirror. The stillness evoked by the subject matter can be seen as a comment on the captivity and paralysis contained within the spaces and objects that we own – that in some ways own us.
Lamps (2007-2008)
Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. In this latter case, unfortunately, there is no scientific test that would prove the discrepancy between perception and reality. Although the possibility of gross deception is infinitely greater here than in our perception of the physical world, we still go on naively projecting our own psychology into our fellow human beings. In this way everyone creates for himself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection. Carl Jung, "General Aspects of Dream Psychology" (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P.507
My recent work has been a series of lamp paintings, which to me have become symbolic portraits. What initially intrigued me was how the shadows of the lamps often vary so much from the shapes of the lamps themselves; this reminds me of how people are often so different from their outside projections to the world. The lamp's shadow can be seen as a kind of 'soul' – its 'true' nature, which it can't hide by pretty materials and polish, just as humans can't change their inner qualities by only focusing on their outsides. No matter how beautiful or amiable on the outside, the inside tells a different story – if only we could see it. In addition, and perhaps even more worrying, we don’t ever really know anyone else as we cannot perceive except through our own senses and ideas, which cannot but alter the truth (if such thing exists) of what we are seeing.
A reference can be made to Plato’s cave, where the people living in the cave watch shadows on a wall, believing them to be images of reality. The images are misleading and only reflect a very skewed version of what is actually going on behind them in the real world. I see my lamp shadows as being the reality and the lamps the imposters but this idea can easily be swapped around (the lamps real, the shadows false) – in fact there is nothing real or not real, it’s all just a matter of perception.
I was taken by an idea suggested by the writer Paul Auster whose novels explore the nature of identity. He said he believed that through fiction, one can often get closer to the essence of truth than by recording actual events. He is known for his sparse prose and isolated characters; I find a similarity in my work – with my isolated lamps, devoid of any human presence, as well as my exclusion of unnecessary detail. In my previous as well as current work, I have strongly emphasized the idea that a shadow or light pattern can be as real as the object creating it. In a painting, a shadow can be an object as much as anything else. Negative space becomes positive and vice versa; all becomes equal on the painted surface.
Light and Colour (2006)
My main interest is in light and the emotional, psychological and visual effects of its patterns on man-made structures such as buildings and interiors. I am also interested in the reverse of this: the shadow - which is the negative space of light. Light and shadow create a kind of geometry that I abstract/minimize to a certain extent, so as to focus on form rather than content. In addition, I like to play with elements of perspective, hovering between ideas of flatness and depth on the picture plane.
Colour is another vital element to my work: each painting is a study in colour - investigating new colour combinations and the way different colours change each other depending on the colour(s) they are near. I also use colour to express light - sometimes using the brightness hierarchy of colours to delineate what would, in black and white, be light and shade, but also often playing with nontraditional uses of colour (for example, using cool colours to express light or using warm colours that 'come forward' for background spaces so as to compress the picture plane).
Light and Reality (2002)
I am interested in ideas about reality – what is real? What is not real? In a painting, a shadow or light pattern is as tangible as a wall; they exist on an equal reality plane. In addition, perspective can be altered so as to make the viewer see things in a certain way. Angles can be sharpened, colours heightened, objects simplified. In this way, the artist shapes what the viewer perceives.
Much of my work incorporates straight lines and hard edges and all of it involves painstaking drawing and numerous colour sketches. There is, because of this, a definite element of control in my work. However, there is a paradox, as the subject matter is light, which is ephemeral, uncontrollable and free. In all of my paintings, there is a strong light coming from somewhere, hitting something, casting a shadow or a light pattern. Each painting is, in a sense, a homage to light itself – light, the source of life, the creator of energy and colour. Its sublime warmth hits us from time to time, coming in, uninvited, through doors, windows, cracks, giving us for a moment its transcendent beauty, then fading away a couple of moments later, into darkness. What I hope to capture is that moment of light, before it slips away, and abstract it into planes, colours, converging lines. In this way, it is somehow distilled, giving the viewer a chance to reflect upon its essence. Quite simply, I am moved by light and I hope to move others by it.
Prison Series (2000)
In the past year, I have become increasingly drawn to images of prisons in my subject matter. Initially, this was due to their appearance - the repetition of bars and the shadows of bars create amazing patterns which can be emphasized using flat colour and a rushing perspective. The bars create structure as well as a sensemof differing spaces within the same area.
On a more philosophical level, the prisons are not real prisons, but prisons of our mind. None of us are totally free, as we live in a society with many rules and constraints. These rules and constraints have become a part of us – we no longer see them as things outside of ourselves. Much of what we think has been dictated to us by the world around us – parents, school, TV, magazines, movies, etc. If we like or approve of something, a lot of this has to do with the fact that society likes and approves of it. It is very difficult, maybe impossible, to know what is from us and what has been subconsciously dictated to us by society. Perhaps there is no ‘us’ (or ‘I’) at all.
I am also interested in issues of control. We are all controlled to a greater or lesser extent by the world around us and for those who are in prison, this is merely made more obvious. Not that I am trivialising the horrors that go on in prison, but there, people realise they are being controlled; that is the whole point. Out in the ‘free’ world, we are controlled every day of our lives, often by our own subconscious fears, yet we do not usually realise this or admit to it. These prison paintings can be looked at as reflections of what goes on in our minds. The traps we set for ourselves and the obstacles that we may or may not overcome. The endless corridors with no exit. The locked gates without keys. However, the light which is present in each painting can be seen as an element of hope and freedom. It is a way out. This light is the key to unlocking our souls.
Negative Space, Light Patterns and Shadows (1999)
In these works, I seek to explore the different methods of visual perception which exist just beneath the surface of our common visual reality. I look at reflections, shadows, light patterns and negative space, which are all a part of our everyday visual experience, yet remain for the most part, ignored. I choose to focus on these entities as my subject matter, making them the main characters in their own stories. Obviously they are fictionalized to some extent, as no shadow is really that sharply defined and no negative space so playfully coloured. However, by exaggerating their details, I hope to show how beautifully striking these marvels of nature can be, if one only takes time to look at them.
To me, negative space, light patterns and shadows are just as important as the physical space they inhabit. If we are looking around us, our eyes cannot feel the difference between what is physical and what is intangible. It is only because we have been trained all our lives to know that we can put our hand through a shadow but not a wall that we ascribe a certain importance to the wall and not the shadow. In a painting, a shadow has the same tangibility as a wall, no matter how dexterously an artist creates an illusion with paint. Shadows and walls are made of the same substance.
As to how these subjects are portrayed, I have become more and more interested in their formal elements, such as their geometrical shapes and patterns. I have also become increasingly interested in colour and have shifted completely away from naturalistic colour towards very bright, unnatural colours. In most of the paintings, especially the more recent ones, I have used colour as a means of expressing light. However, each painting is completely different in its own right, with its own ideas and type of abstraction.
I hope that some of the intentions I have expressed here have been achieved in these works.
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