I have been an abstract painter since 1982, when I said goodbye to my high school art students—and their relentless requests to see me paint and draw realistically—and sought out abstract expressionists. Since then, I have met and taken workshops from such notable artists as Frank Stella, Grace Hartigan and Robert Motherwell. All these years later, I still find myself empathizing most with the thinking of Sean Scully and his attempts “to endow geometry with a human aspect”.
I’ve always considered mathematics my nemesis. I regard it with reverence, so to speak, but certainly not with affection. Try as I might to avoid it, it inevitably works its way into my daily life and into my paintings. In this series, I’ve confronted it head on. I begin with a kind of architectural drawing and then work to transform it into a visual form of poetry. The result is a union of opposites: Order and predictability meets – and dances with – emotion and the element of surprise. A critic, Jude Schwendenwien, once labeled my work “conceptual expressionism”. I like that, because it aptly describes the intellectual balancing act that drives my process. Yet isn’t this, I wonder, the struggle that should take place in all painting? Isn’t good art, as well as good living, a continuous compromise between freedom and restraint?
One more question: Can an abstract painting ever be purely non-objective? The impulse of an artist to choose a color or a line to mark up that two-dimensional white rectangle in space is coming from somewhere, from something in our life, from our “memory bank”. For me, certain elements bubble up from my psyche as I begin to work. They may be unrecognizable at first, and might be as simple as a feeling, a color scheme, an object, an event, a place…or in the case of these paintings, A TASTE!