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 great art can carry 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. 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. Six 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, nor specifically political, religious, or philosophical – though there is the implication of the potential unity of these disciplines, too. It was intuitively clear that the work needed to be executed in casein tempera on board. Contemplating this impulse over time, I realized it was 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, anti-conceptual in fact. They speak of spiritual and existential fundamentals. 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. 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.

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