Sunday, February 24, 2013

Some Thoughts on Figurative Work

Who Am I in This Crowd?
detail of larger work
I've been thinking a lot about the value of figurative work in terms of its ability to be progressive rather than retrograde in nature (as Currin said in a 2009 interview).  I also heard recently from an art dealer that figurative work is harder to sell because people don't necessarily want to hang a painting of someone they don't know in their home. I get that. The selling part of the comment didn't bother me as much as the idea that when someone looks at figurative work they might naturally feel removed from it.

In his 2009 interview, Currin also said that a true artist has less to say in the type of art he ends up creating than one might think.  I get that, too, and realize that, like Currin, figurative art seems to be my path. And I want people to feel uniquely drawn into my work rather than removed from it. I don't want to create a categorical wall between my art and the viewer simply by virtue of the work being figurative.

Seeing older figurative work and being hit with the realization that this specific person once lived can be a powerful reminder of the passage of time and the never ending surge of humanity. But what if the viewer could feel something less retrograde? What if I could capture something more alive than merely a specific person you've never met? What if you looked at the figure and saw every person, a common soul, emotion, and that recognition made you think and feel and somehow evolve?  

Detail of larger work in progress
Sometimes lately I think about the concept of God creating each of us. When I'm painting, I think about Him sitting there pulling each of us straight out of His own enormous soul. Putting us on canvases together in all types of colorful scenarios.

If that's true, I believe He does it for the sake of progress. He isn't looking back; He's looking forward. That's what I want to do.

False Dichotomy
23" x 15" Acrylic, Casein and Ink




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