On Amitagarbha Paintings

An art object is a total embodiment of values. Aesthetics includes everything. A painting is a small thing. It doesn’t broadcast very far, but the greatest art carries a quiet, steady signal. Relatively simple means allow for the perception of broader, deeper truths and expression. In the composition of this work, the vertical, the horizontal, and the diagonal elements, deployed in a game-like system using chance operations, provide a literal framework (mind itself is circular; it resists representation). Numbers count. This undercarriage provides a sufficiently varied rhythmic matrix upon which I lay down the eight colors included in each painting, over a black background. Seven colors are sublimated to a top layer which unifies the work, and serves to keep it from being mistaken as decoration.

I consider each of these elements to be resonant with healing potential and insight (just unifying up, down, left, right, motion and stillness in the eye/heart/mind is no mean feat). This insight arrives as a gestalt thing, neither overly analytical or sentimental (yet emphatically both), nor specifically political, religious, or philosophical – though there is the implication of the potential unity of these disciplines, too. I felt clear that the work needed to be executed in casein tempera on board. Contemplating this impulse over time, I realized that I had chosen a medieval medium, which itself conveyed a certain sort of devotional, pre-modern spirit, channeled through an affectionate, studied modernist lens and milieu, free-floating as we all are out here in “post-history”, or whatever this mess is.

The paintings are phenomenological, non-narrative, non-symbolic realities unto themselves, in no need of verbal pre-mastication. Painting itself is its own rich language. I can say the works are generally produced with a healing intention, as prayers of a sort, but this prayer is expressed as just making, just painting. I mostly paint with my non-dominant hand, challenging myself to stay present, steady, and relaxed; every brushstroke fails just a little bit, which hopefully lends a bit of the tenderness I feel about the process and the results. They’re made in a practice of presence, as a total appreciation for things as it is, as a sage once put it. They invoke frank but complex feeling, and a quiet mind. I experience the work as a great balancing: a thousand dualities (ones and zeros) actualized and brought into gently challenging harmonies.