Prado, Post Prado
“In the Spring and early Fall of 2019, I painted a series of paintings which commemorated the fifty year anniversary of the moment I decided to become an artist. In 1969, I was thirteen years old and my family was traveling to Australia via Europe, the Mideast , India, Thailand and the Philippines. I was born in Madrid and although I am half Anglo and half Malaysian, Spain had always held my imagination in thrall. During that voyage, we lingered in Madrid and it was then that I had visited the Prado for the first time. Prior to that moment, I was already in love with art, copiously drawing and copying from the illustrations of the history books that I could find. Finally, I could see the works that I had only known in reproduction. It was at that moment, when I stood in front of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring his Children”, that I was subsumed in something like a mystical experience. This was the exact moment in which I had realized and determined my destiny.
Approaching the works in commemoration, I wanted to simplify the palette of colors in order to make vivid the embodiment of the physical form of impasto paint that had animated my life project as a painter for the past 24 years. Painting in monochrome achieved this goal. Laying a thick bed of paint onto the surface of the canvas and moving my handmade tools into it became something more like drawing in paint. Of course, the subjects were selections from the Prado’s collection that I had remembered from that visit fifty years ago. For several years up until that point, I was relying on masking to increase the intensity of the form of physical paint that I was painting with. I wanted to dial down the reliance on masking but not eliminate it altogether. The solution at that time was to mask a framing fringe at the edges of the paintings. The undulations recalled for me the architectural classicism of the Prado, something like an entablature, a fine nod as far as I was concerned.
While I felt that I could do these commemorative paintings for the remainder of my life, the limitations of the Prado’s finite collection and the problem of the maudlin inevitably would present itself. I felt compelled to simultaneously close out that project and extend it onwards. It was last summer when I was painting an element of that series, a black painting employing the subject of Ribera’s “Jacob’s Dream” that I was gifted with a germ of a realization of how I this project could find its’ permutation. There, in that particular painting and subject, was na detail of vegetation that held out a tantalizing promise of how to continue on past the commemorative series. Later, another flash of intuition led me to altering the form of the usual rectilinear format of the canvas as a means of performing the framing function of the mask. I had concluded that the hexagon was the simplest extension beyond the rectangular format that holds a rich set of allusions, all good and fascinating.
Color and Form. Color is both downplayed in interaction and celebrated solo. Using these means, the physical vocabulary set of forms that I have coined can take center stage. The form of the canvas, itself a sign, urging us to see painting anew. A spotlight of raking light on a solitary performer singing an aria. An echo of a moment a half century ago.”