This body of work was inspired by an exchange with a Salk Institute biologist for the San Diego Art Institute exhibition Extra-Ordinary Collusion. The paintings are loosely based on elements from cell biology and genetics, now construed as psychological symbols of relationship, conflict, heredity, change, even religion.
Solo Show: Seven San Diego Artists
This body of work is both a looking back—to the utopian dreams of International Style architecture and, further, to the religious narratives of the Renaissance—and a looking forward, an attempt to see (in fear and in hope) where we are going. All of the paintings are my personal response to this particular moment of crisis (ecological, political, cultural) and to my own personal life challenges.
The buildings in this show are based on one photo from a mid-century public housing development in Alton West, London. I have painted this building over and over again because it has become for me an archetype of the modernist impulse (and failure) to reinvent society via architecture. The buildings are first and foremost containers-- necessary but restrictive. The simple rectangular block is divided into floors which tend to pull apart due to their variety. These characteristics apply equally to the self, so the buildings are human images also. I am convinced that we might find some of the guideposts to our future in the very failures of our past.
This group of women (representational and abstract) are equally ambiguous. Some are subjects of fantasy—sexual and otherwise—others have a more independent existence. They represent a multiplicity of moods, types, meanings. I have just begun a series of paintings of Mary Magdalene (there are three here) because she fascinates me both for the woman she must have been and for the image which grew around her over centuries. In traditional Christian iconography, she represents sensuality and the most intense spirituality, often at the same time. Again I am not seeking to make an image of the Mary Magdalene but many images of my Mary Magdalene. There is no resolution here but a field of questings.
Just a word on consistency. For many years I have wrestled with my tendency to go off in different directions. Now, as an older (and, perhaps, just a little wiser) painter, I embrace that diversity. The unity that I am still seeking will be a unity through diversity not in spite of it. And that seems to me a key part of the post-modern project. We are inventing fractured narratives that open out to any number of possible futures.