I have been interested for many years in how men relate to each other. In the past, I have explored how alcohol serves as an essential social lubricant for public male interaction. Currently, I am investigating male interaction and public presentation in a series of large oil paintings which synthesizes robotics technology with the centuries-old tradition of the bullfight.
The bull has been a subject for artists from the moment people began making marks: Lascaux cave paintings, Cretan vases with Minoan acrobats, Goya's bullfights, and Picasso's minotaurs are but a few examples. The spectacle of bullfighting serves as the ideal metaphor for my current paintings -- the arena is filled with beauty, violence, tradition, fanatical crowds, the attempted domination of man over nature, a ballet-like grace and, of course, men in very, very, snug pants. When re-presented as robotic bullfighting, the metaphor expands with new readings of contemporary masculine obsessions: technology, objects of destruction, virtual reality and video games. However, my work is not entirely image driven; the content is revealed through a worked painted surface.
Paint functions as a tangible physical presence in my work. I love that I can obliterate all the history of an image with a few bold strokes or I can choose to allow traces of my visual thinking to appear in the final image. The viewer inherently realizes that a painting is a constructed image; this opens the narrative possibilities of painting. Rather than bringing all the paintings to a similar degree of finish on stretched canvas, I have chosen to let the works be unified by color and subject matter.
Just as the subject matter of this series is the fusion of a rich beautiful western tradition with contemporary interests, the formal construction of the paintings is made with an eye on the past and another on contemporary studio practice. An encaustic painting on panel, a medium and support which pre-dates Christ, faces and is counterbalanced by a fluorescent pink cape on an unstretched canvas supported by machine bolts. In a single painting, traditional layers of thin transparent glazes are interrupted by thick oil-bar lines and ultimately, the great western tradition of history painting dances with the animated fun of Calvin and Hobbes.
tech-tosterone series | artist statement