TDP Gallery | April 16 – May 22, 2021
When I was an emerging artist living in New York City during the 1980s, I turned away from the figurative art I had been making since my university days and, through chance and experimentation, began to make abstract paintings that used paper as a low-relief, textural material on their surfaces. My adopted process of tearing sheets of marked and painted paper into fragments and glueing them in carefully composed patterns onto stretched canvas became a life-long concentration that has primarily addressed how and why haptic art first establishes a “felt,” rather than a simply “seen,” connection with viewers.
Although this approach has evolved over the years through many individual series, and employed different types of painting, marking and patterning, the use of paper as a textural material on my paintings’ surfaces has remained a constant. In 1999, when I was living in Santa Fe, NM, I began using photo paper for the first time, marking the blank backs of 4” x 6” C-prints with blobs of videotape emulsion before tearing them into 1” squares and adhering them to stretched canvases. These hidden-image works led quite naturally to new mixed media paintings that explored issues of chance and recognition by revealing, albeit in fragments, the C-prints’ previously unseen imagery, deploying the now visible pictorial content randomly across their tactile surfaces.
It’s Today, my first solo exhibition at Five Points Center for the Visual Arts, is a retrospective look at these deliberate and thoughtful works. Each one consists of an image-laden, color-splattered and painted mosaic-like grid assembled from either C- prints or laser prints torn into 1” squares or 1” x 2” rectangles. Using three approaches, I transferred pictures from magazines onto the blank backs of the C-prints, photocopied public domain images onto cardstock, or mined my own color photographs of a TV gymnastics competition, a friend doing Qi Gong exercises, New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a farm in North Stonington, CT, and the Borough of St. John’s Wood in London, UK.
As the Santa Fe art critic Jon Carver wrote in his 2003 review of the first exhibition of these works, they “could easily be described as a pioneering cultural cubism, one which charts the fracturing impact of society upon the self and vice versa.” Looking at them today, however, I understand that these complex and engaging paintings do more than simply address the consequences of fragmentation; they also provide encouraging evidence of the strengthening aspects of reconstruction.