Friday, January 16, 2015

I Am My Own Sub-Optimal Secular Agenda

The first thing I see each morning is one of my own paintings on the wall next to the bed. It's a large, abstract work, and nominally derivative… a cross between Pollock's drips and Basquiat's primitive iconography. The palette is of strong red, yellow, white, and black oil enamels. I painted it in late night sessions on the concrete floor of a garage in the middle of winter. It took forever to dry, giving me plenty of time to stare at it beneath the glare of a 100 watt bulb. Plenty of time to wonder why. And then it occurred to me.

I have often thought about what it means, but I have never been in doubt over what it meant. Like every abstract work I've undertaken, the painting represents the state of mind employed in its execution. The subject is quite literally the resolution of pictorial complexity as it emerged from the embodied experience of constructing the painting. And like any expressionistic work, the power of the paint is not mediated through the deliberate probity of draftsmanship, but derives from the absence of deliberate strategies. It is a meditation, not a pre-meditation.  It is of the real stuff of life, of action and reaction… a mode of animal existence.

It is a blow against every known reasonable approach to daily life. The arc of the hand, the force of gravity, the splashing of paint, the scanning of the eye, the brief moment of decision, and then do it again. Danger and deliverance make their advances together… entropy dances around a stolid order, as the fractured kaleidoscope of nature channels thoughts too prescient to be defined. There are moments when actions make sense without being sensible, and when existence doesn't have to excuse itself. The moments before identification, when possibilities haven't been weened.

I've often thought about why I make paintings, but I've never been in doubt over why I made this one. It was a moment in life that required action. Perhaps simply to take control,  in a life with little control. In a life where control is only the power of money to control some smiling face reached out to exchange it for whatever gives pleasure. Like feeding coins into a slot machine for all eternity. The painting erased all of that pain. It was my private devotional. My permission to play god, and turn my secular self into an end in itself… a prime mover in my private world. To be my own secular agenda.

As god created man in his image, I have created this painting in response to myself. The painting is a sign thereby, and I am signified in it's unblinking eye. The wet canvas sweats on the cold concrete floor, like some ravished lover too exhausted to move… I am aware of a presence. Like some unexpected visit nine months after a night of dirty sex, I am surprised then to find that a brand new thing has been birthed by my arrogant hand. Proud parents can wonder. I could have not made the painting. I might have abstained. I could have abandoned it up until the last stroke. But I didn't do those things. I was carried away by passions. As that last bit of paint approached it's inevitable configuration, I felt the point of no return. I knew I couldn't turn back. I didn't want to. Pulse quickened, dilated, shallow breathed logic overtook me. I thrust that paint where it needed to go and let nature take its course.

There exists a painting before me. It's not so private after all. Like some full grown human emerged before my eyes, it sits across from me and stares back, with whatever full consciousness I could give it. Resplendent in total exposure, walking nude with the curtains thrown open. No shame for the painting. The voyeur circles the block, shooting looks opportunistically. The eyes take in the body, in whose minds races the thought of impropriety… that both parties are engaging in a dark desire… the desire rooted in something deeper than the very conventions that label the desire as dark in the first place. The taboo is who we are, or a clue at least. The fetish is a resistance to life as we know it… to all the crap we have to take.