1996-2003 / Cages, Tanks, Taxidermy
Portrayed Through Most Of This Period Are Things Confined, restrained, and entrapped: in cages, tanks, vitrines, in glass domes for display, or simply taxidermied; abstracted metaphors.
I wanted to purely paint certain types of animals in a way which gave them life, and parse that through the twisted reality of our world. How we claim and isolate species - everything really - for inspection, experiment, and ownership. How the natural world is routinely subjugated by the human will.
It's also fun to deeply scrutinize things that are difficult to observe, and to merge that observation with paint. Some of these pieces are also about our absorption with false and modified versions of reality - why do we really like those coca cola polar bears and dioramas in amusement parks and museums? They look so cool but are so distilled and removed from reality, they invariably have an undertone of surreality.
I also like to play with labeling and the elasticity of language. Some of the thoughts that compel me to paint are questions like what is art?, who is it for?, how best to convey what?, really
fundamental, basic, essential questions you can only answer yourself by examining with laser focus. I was also playing a lot with surreal alignments and juxtapositions, and how context changes meaning.
Ever since my Funk period I have been investigating language in art, and how any word, phrase, or koan instantly has a double or triple entendre quality when placed in a painting. It's that isolation for observation rule at work again. But it also puns how we're taught to literally read in our society, many to the point where the reading overrides the looking and seeing. And obviously the text informs and shades the other content items. Writing and glyphs are part of our visual and psychological landscapes. Some of the natural history pieces use phrases as the subject, as the actual items housed in the tanks. These phrases are layered upon one another and stand alone persuasively, or can be decoded at will, but together create a cacophony of sound and thought, echoing the filtering process of our minds. In many cases the tanks are labelled in this manner also, suggesting the multiple meanings of these items.
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