Who are you and what do you do?
I am an acrylic painter working in 3 styles: Architectural Abstraction, Political Pop and Metal Mayhem. In my current show “Abscissa of Geometric Precision”, I am focusing on the Architectural Abstraction style centered around parallel lines and 30/60/90 degree angles.
What is this bizarre title about.. “Abscissa of Geometric Precision”?
I thought the concept of an Abscissa in advanced geometry was a great definition of what I was trying to achieve artistically in a brief word. Abscissa is simply the perpendicular (90 degree angle) distance from a point from the vertical axis. It was first used in 1220 by Fibonacci.
Didn’t Fibonacci have a ratio of some sort used in art?
Yes, this is a sequence of numbers that add the last two numbers to get the next one. Basically, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc. Artists used this in squares, which leads to the Fibonnaci spiral. These numbers were the basis to the Renaissance.
Do you use the Fibonacci numbers in your works?
No. I did though have a long career in Finance crunching large quantity of numbers and its effect on the mind. After awhile, many people in the field see “lucky” numbers with the random occurance of some sets of numbers. Some nations have particular lucky numbers: in China its 4 and 8, in the West its 7, in India the number should end on a 1, say 11, 121, etc. One of my political pop paintings 303 Signatures uses the 0, 8 “lucky” numbers in China to show misfortune in the 2008 earthqaukes, where 5000 children died in shoddy constructed school buildings.
Why do you have splashes and drips in your work?
I like to break the perfection of the piece and it’s a device I grabbed from the artist Kofie. For the drips, I feel like that is the sadness of life and tragedy we all live through.
Are there inspirational artists that impacted you for this style?
My art professor, Tom Thomas, did his abstracts in class so I could learn a cutting edge version of art with tape in oil. Once I started my own style I immediately went to angles and contrasts in oil. Over time, I drifted away from oil as it is too slow in the drying process and you can achieve very similar effects in acrylic, but only wait 15 minutes for each layer to dry vs. 1 week with oil.
Another artist that changed my free flow tape abstracts was Kofie Augustine. In his works, he has 3D atmospheres in the work along with parallel lines with this spray of paint on corners. In my work, I changed to a fixed angle look, so all the lines are parallel are in a fixed relation. Initially, I used some of the rounded edges of Kofie, but really didn’t feel it was my style and went to pure hard-edge angles. Additionally, I used a much more exaggerated spray of paint to increase the drama in my pieces. Additionally, I love the use of some primary colors and boldness in my work.
I paint regularly with Prabin Badhia at 4th Street and picked up his focus on piece by piece works and use of painterly effects in the work vs. perfect smooth surfaces. I love the drama between paint strokes and harsh lines. I like the feel of how the image changes from 20-30 feet to 10 feet to right up close.
Where do you see this style evolving to?
Hard to say at this point. I feel I have almost reached the conclusion of the current tenets I use in this style without expanding the rules, colors or some other element in this style.
How do you define the space while painting?
If you look at my work, especially this style, you will see every inch used up to the far corners. My work seems to be a close up of the actual larger painting. I feel that having a lot of negative space is a waste. I understand the use of negative space to define the focal point, but my work has competing focal points. The paintings are at war with themselves. Additionally, I like to play with the layers between colors and how they redefine the space itself. Sometimes the relationships are obvious and then there are subtle continual line relationships that you may see only close up.
What do you think of abstract vs. realism?
I like to play in both worlds. I think many artists are overly dependent on the iPad as a crutch. Some artists premix all the colors in oil, then grid out a landscape or whatever subject they are working on and literally fill in the colors. They get a great impact, but I really like to play with the colors as they layer over one another.
As far as realism, there is definitely room to play in, but many artists get stuck in copying fruit, landscapes, portraits, pets, etc. I really wouldn’t consider this cutting edge, but definitely a great craft. The great realists already did most topics; the artist really needs to break new ground, realism or abstract. You can say the same thing on abstraction. You’ll see an artist copy another previous style and produce that. It again gets back to producing a kind of commercial copy art, but I would call it more decorative art. Of course, you have to make a living, so if you can make money in this game, then more power to you.
How do you relate to other geometric painters like Malevich or Piet Mondrian?
Malevich did the famous square paintings set in the corners of room hung unorthodox during the early Soviet propaganda painting years before Stalin purged Suprematism to bland Socialist Realism, which Picasso painted as a stooge of the USSR and North Korea, some of the fiercest and cruelest dictators man has known. I liked Malevich’s first take, but he got stuck in the square format. He actually was banned to paint in the USSR later in his life. So it is unknown what could have been without stifling dictatorship dictating what is and is not art.
Mondrian was amazing in that he lived through the evolution of Impressionism and living in it and then breaking radically into squares, lines and primary colors we know now. He did get stuck in this last style and never veered from it. I believe an artist dies if he adheres too long to one style. This was one of the reasons Picasso art became so valuable later was his vast versatility to always deviate from previous styles to new ones. Of course, his later works became quite stale in my opinion of over repeating sameness.