"Tar and Feather Painting, First Variation"

Tar&Feather Painting,1stVariation

Roofing cement, goose feathers on stretched canvas with cinder blocks: Dimensions variable

Tar&Feather Painting,1st Variation

Roofing cement, goose feathers on stretched canvas with cinder blocks: Dimensions variable

Tar&Feather Painting,1st Variation

Roofing cement, goose feathers on stretched canvas with cinder blocks: Dimensions variable

Tar&Feather Painting, 1st Variation

Roofing cement, goose feathers on stretched canvas with cinder blocks: Dimensions variable

Tar&Feather Painting, 1st Variation

Roofing cement, goose feathers on stretched canvas with cinder blocks: Dimensions variable

THE Finite Province of Meaning 

 

"Tar and Feather Painting, First Variation"

 Large -Scale: Dimensions Variable

 

What has attracted me to tar and feather my paintings is the significance of meaning that the material suggests;  it allows me to ask the question: "what kind of treatment can painting endure"? Suspending the canvas horizontally on cinder blocks is one formal way to investigate this idea and is the first in a series of seven versions each using a structural method to hold a tarred and feathered painting up to scrutiny. The painting becomes a type of offering;  In a certain sense, I am offering a painting up for contemplation to ask about its identity: How should it be treated? What defines it as a language? How is meaning created and deciphered? The raw and aggressive treatment towards the artwork is in contrast with the formal properties of the piece because as a painting, it maintains an aesthetic appeal. This duality intrigues me because "Painting" as a language, contains a multitude of meanings. What is most important to me is using certain materials and creating particular structures that allow for a painting's identity and social function to be questioned; not to limit its capacity but to augment its possibilities.

 

Tar and Feather Painting, Variations 1 through 7 is the first series within the The Finite Province of Meaning. This  expansive body of work addresses materials and their use and function in relation to painting, realized through the forum of sculpture.The photographs above are of the first piece to have been built on site. Also included below are the Studies for the rest of the series . The drawing for the "First Variation" indicates how directly the artwork transfers from a rendition on paper to its realization in space. The series can be presented in its entirety or one/multiple pieces at a time(dimensions vary, depending on the site).There are eight series' ; each consisting of seven Variations(see Studies below). There is not a rendition of the seventh Variation because those final versions are to be made on site, without a visual guide. There are many reasons  both cultural and personal about my chosen mediums and their implications to how/why they articulate "meaning": Each material engenders a notion of "reading into" its application. "Gold Leaf" and  "Tar and Feather" are exemplary in that they not only  reveal applied "readings"  but they also represent a vast dichotomy of association. There is a literal connotation because of the wider perception regarding the medium's social and historical significance. However, for me the real "meaning" is in the inherent differences in the materials that foster our "reading".  The repeating structural framework within the Variations, heightens the same/different dichotomy.  

 

The remaining series,  "Graphite/Disegno", "The Flaying of Marsyas", "Naught", "Nights Descent", "Bubble-Gum Pink", " Cyperus Papyrus"  have a similar placement of medium yet offer a different decipherment regarding the mediums associations.

 

This body of work has been conceptually realized on paper, yet there remains a process of creative interpretation regarding each specific artwork. For example: in the 6th Variation of each series, the shape and color of the cage(frame) can change depending on how the work comes to fruition in a given space; the 3rd Variation from each series can have any color line(or multiple colors) on the outside of the plexiglass; all of the suspension pieces have an option of the cables and / chains to be painted or covered with caulking or resin which would alter the work from its rendition on paper, not to a tremendous extent but in a subtle way, allowing poetic nuance to still play a part in the realization of an individual piece. 

The Finite Province of Meaning  constitutes,personally, my Magnum opus in theory and practice.  Aesthetic experience is the phenomenon that generates and heightens the encounter between viewer and art object; it reflects a dimension in our psychology that precedes word usage. The entirety of this series is geared to that moment of encounter because I believe that painting is not just an object we look "at" but something we also look "through", coming close to sharing the same creative space as the artist( or at least in a certain sense, participating in that creativity). The aesthetic experience is as much about how we can intensify  time and space as it is about increasing perception and thought. There is an aspect of the stage quality within The Finite Province of Meaning  but it is actually more of an altar, those societal arenas that generate a place for religious ceremony through a methodology of ritual. The irony about realizing the entirety of Finite Province is that before I was able to bring this work to completion, both formally and conceptually, the series of sculptures titled "Guardians of the Finite Province" had to be made first(see Sculpture in menu bar)...... as if some sort of protector of the creative self had to be in place before I can lay claim to a unique manifestation about painting. The "Guardians" are talismans acting as gate keepers to the "Finite Province" . I needed to expand the formal space of painting in order to better articulate what it means to me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Disegno"
"Tar and Feather Painting"  (studies for Variations 1 - 6)
"Gold Leaf"

 

I am interested in Gold Leaf  because of the dual nature of its use primarily in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque painting. It was applied to designate religious icons indicating their divinity and also as a decorative element, covering the frame to enclose the artwork. The combination is interesting because one usage is to enhance the content of the painting by placing the gold as symbolic of transcendence, and the other just a simple way to frame and display the artwork. When considering this medium in the diversity of this usage, the extreme polarity of material as "content" and material to frame the "content" is unique in painting.

"Graphite/Disegno"

 "Graphite/Disegno" is predicated on graphite as the applied medium. I see graphite as a strong,dense material and it is indicative for me of rudimentary notions of mark-making. The origins of the material as a drawing source are probably as old as the finding and containing of fire. My guess is it's one of the the first drawing mediums, other then sticks in the sand, crushed plants and perhaps charcoal. The Disegno part of the title is because the notion of design as a mental construct is one that I associate with graphite and it represents for me thought formation and the recognition/reflection of that formation. Drawing and painting are so intertwined that the "Finite Province",in its entirety, needs such a series as "Graphite" to indicate their synonymous relationship.

"The Flaying of Marsyas"

" The Flaying of Marsyas" is the only series within the Finite Province that directly references a literary source, yet it is how the myth has been portrayed in painting that has had the most influence on me regarding this theme. The pictorial representation of a narrative has transformed to a material usage as narrative. The surface is treated as skin by using a coating of Krackle which forces the top layer of paint to split, forming fissures and revealing the color underneath. This vein-like appearance alludes to a flayed surface.  

"Naught"

"Naught" is probably the most philosophical series but it is not an investigation into philosophy per se... it is using a line to delineate the artwork. By using the line (hand painted on the top edge of the canvas)  to define the piece, the relationship to what is "outside" the painted line to what happens"inside" the line is where the interesting dynamics and tension takes place; The outside of the piece becomes the catalyst of the piece, and what's inside is, in a certain sense, nothing. Off course, what can be said of the inside is that it is a painted white surface and that is far from nothing. But when viewed in the context of how the line also separates the outside, then a notion of "nothing" starts to become palpable. This is the closest I have come to articulating that what is external to the artwork can play a vital role in forming the content of that work.

"Night's Descent"

"Nights Descent" is the most personal out of the entire Finite Province series. The material is oil-stick used in a "scratch-off" technique. This is the same as the crayon method learned in kindergarten and it is probably the first example in seeing the "magic" that can take place in making art. Layers of various colors are applied to the entire surface, followed by a heavy layer of black or very dark gray. Then a simple tool with a sharp edge is used to scratch off a line on the top edge of the canvas, only an inch or two in width exposing the colors underneath. The reason for me of the way in which this process is more personal is because the original intent of the title, Nights Descent was a homage to the transition from day to night. This is the time for me that is the most nuanced and alluring in the 24 hour cycle. I find the change from day into night as something of a magical phenomenon. As I pondered the use of the darker colors imposing upon the light underneath, I did recognize the potential for a larger notion, such as a human lifespan and our awareness of death. The paradox is that the series may be viewed as a sort of requiem to the passage of life, yet it uses a drawing technique, learned during the youngest stage of development, as the creative catalyst.

"Bubble-Gum Pink"

"Bubble-Gum Pink" is as simple as the title indicates. Yet the decorative quality of the shiny surface acting as "eye candy" has a place in the story of Painting. Regardless of the cultural, political, religious,...the aesthetic, linguistic, deconstructed....the narratives,histories,representations....the 

allusions, illusions, psycho-analytic readings, existential reaching....marxism, consumerism, commercialism,all the "ism's"..... a sign, signifier, signified and the kitchen sink,,,It is still, fundamentally, a decorated(dare I say) 'painted' surface. No matter how much we read into painting,it amazes me that the properties are mostly derived by a formal means and constructed by a design logic. I understand imbued with that is a plethora of intent on behalf of artists with all possible narratives,motivations and meanings but it remains something to be looked at because it is a visual realization.

"Cyperus Papyrus"

"Cyperus Papyrus"  doesn't have a first variation because  of the directness of the material. It is also left in its original state without any added mediums or marks. The blank status of untouched papyrus isn't however an exercise in minimalist reduction; all of the structural Variations that contain the papyrus use charcoal to define the lines which enclose the artwork. From the ceiling suspension with cables, to the 4-sided plexiglass, to the iron cage(frame), each define the perimeters that occupy the papyrus. In a certain sense, the articulation of the artwork is manifested by the lines that surround it. The mark making is actually done on the structural devices which allow the work to be framed. Very similar to the "Naught" series, Papyrus is a way to intertwine the relationship between the artwork with what is around it. Whereas "Naught" addresses what is outside the work, "Cyperus Papyrus" has a very different premise because of the use of the charcoal acting as both a framing of the artwork and also as being integral to its formal realization as co-subject matter.

"Flaying of Marsyas",1st Variation