During the making, my paintings transform many times from one state to another: from water to oil to wax, from color field to abstract gestures to specific imagery, from spontaneous and intuitive processes to those more deliberate and precise. In this way it is similar to traditions of alchemical transformation. Many paintings in the Recent Works Gallery refer to a transmutation, where one entity is changing into another. Their titles reflect alchemy’s rich descriptive language in classical Latin and Greek, such as “Nigredo”, “Albedo” and “Rubedo”. Whether understood as proto-science or as a philosophical tradition, alchemy is rich with metaphor and symbol. Its mysteries continue to compel people across time and culture. Issac Newton, whose handwritten text appears in some of my paintings, dabbled in alchemy before chemistry was a developed science. Carl Jung felt a knowledge of alchemy was important in understanding psychological and spiritual transformation and used it as a tool for self awakening in psychotherapy. In the language of alchemy, images are “utriusque capax” (capable of both) light and dark, conscious and unconscious, material and spirit – the union of opposites. Reconciling complementary forces within and without towards an understanding of wholeness is a subject frequently brought to my work.
I enjoy working with images and ideas that offer a range of perceptual fields and symbolic metaphor. Birds are sometimes used as characters representing the psyche and describing familiar human experiences such as descent, struggle, discovery, interconnection, revelation and union. Another recurrent image includes simple imperfect vessels. Employed as an archetype, the vessel possesses a full range of associations: numinous and commonplace, conscious and unconscious, interior and exterior. Over time this symbol has come to represent in my work the cycle of giving and receiving as a single fluid act.
The intent in all my work is to suggest that the present moment simultaneously enfolds the empirical, symbolic, mysterious, and infinite; that the quantifiable and measured lies alongside the ineffable and infinite; and that no thought or thing is utterly passive or inert but is charged with complex content and a sentient presence.