The paintings of landscapes have been coming from my mind and heart for thirty years. They are never quite “pleinair” paintings because I try to memorize the images and then put the significant remnants of the experience on paper or canvas. I think of them as expressionistic impressions in that they have noticeable brushwork and a real attempt to capture light but there is no desire to reproduce what a photographer would portray. The earliest images are stained canvases. As we progress through the other experimental phases in my work, the paint becomes thicker and eventually becomes layered and glazed. At present the landscapes are being done in the four-by-four foot format into which my figurative and more abstract works have also evolved.
The figurative works are chock full of allusions to spiritual quests – mostly my own. I try to understand my own spirituality, which is deeply colored by my own choices within the Judeo-Christian tradition, specifically through the images of contemplation within the context of the profound experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. However, my own particular art-historical interests have taken my mind and heart into the dark reaches of Mayan, Inca, and Aztec religious history. I have also found great comfort and challenge in thinking about Buddhist teachings as manifest in Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Tibetan literature and iconographic history. I am trying to plumb the depths of the Koran.
Gold and Grey Cycles
These histories and the fascinating flourishes from these threads of insight from other spiritual traditions, as well as more foreign threads from my own western tradition, have put a lot of color into my work. There was a significant color addition when I finally broke through my resistance to Trecento and Quattrocentro gold backed figurative works. I began to find interest in Byzantine and Greek/Russian iconography in both mosaics and paint. I was rewarded by new insights into the images of religious traditions, not quite my own, although they were still significantly Christian.
Renaissance and Baroque painting and sculpture became fascinating to me only after I had fallen in love with Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism. My first awareness of a love of any artist’s work came when, as a young man, I delved into van Gogh’s work but I was soon grabbed by Monet, and then strongly, internally, spiritually by El Greco.
Each of these artists became mentors to me through the phenomenon of East coast museum shows. The mega block-busters were all-important to me. I devoured all that I could. Eventually, the big shows led me to delve deeper into the recesses of the museum collections. Visiting the Cloisters and returning to the Greek and Egyptian sections of the Metropolitan kept my inquisitive eye constantly delighted and challenged.
I find such profound meaning in these historical periods and in the works of particular artists that it goads me to push deeper and deeper into my own psyche looking for the Holy Spirit of Wisdom who apparently communicates with so many different spiritually conditioned peoples in profoundly similar ways.