EDWARD

S. CURTIS

The more an image is wrapped in mythos, the more compelling its deconstruction. 

In September 2018, I solo exhibited 20 paintings in an unfinished retail space in the Fairfax District of LA.  It was the culmination of a year’s effort and the fulfillment of a long-held aspiration.  Sharing required embracing a public vulnerability which also proved personally rewarding.

 

The source material for the series was the photography of Edward Curtis.  Curtis is known for compilations covering the American West and Native American peoples.  His portraits are iconic, entrancing, and controversially wrapped in the contextual failings of his time and perspective. 

 

Curtis’ mastery over his medium accentuates the limitations of his portraits, making them ideal for my purposes. Deconstruction is a good term for these works, which removes from the source any and all recognizability and context.  I atomize the image and reassemble it by way of intuitive response, in many cases losing all sense of figuration.  This picture-making does not predict the outcome at the offset.  I reject surface impressions and literal observation.  Fluid, uncritical impulse is key.  Derivative by way of original inspiration, the connection is not evident to the viewer, making consumption challenging.  Unconcerned with aesthetic appeal and absent conscious messaging, the paintings are in high contrast to the intent of the originals.  I want to create imagery that speaks without preconceived agenda.  

 

The process of developing this raw language fascinates me.  As an artist who has worked for commercially, I can construct readable, appealing images for narrative purposes.  Here, I actively deny facility in draftsmanship and pre-planned composition, insisting that the works build themselves using only the most reflexive sensibilities.   

The painters I most admire are stand-alone souls.  They develop their own way of speaking and with it they seem to address the existential complexity of the human condition.  Those who wrestle in this intangible realm, as did Blake, Goya, Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, Bacon, Basquiat, DeKooning, Munch, and Jung are exemplary.  In a time when humanity is growing increasingly facile at imagery, where technology is set to radically adjust our perception of reality, what could be more important than their spiritual depth? 

 

I strive to contribute in like manner.

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acrylic on canvas 

48" x 60"