In 2010, I began two series, a cloth series and a rock series, both carefully detailed representational paintings based on the physical objects I was looking at. By painting both series with such careful marks and detail, I hoped to express my love of the medium and of the beauty I find in what could be considered ordinary “mundane” objects. In the cloth series I intended to examine how cloth, used as the main (or only) object in the painting, could bring to the surface an audiences’ expectations when looking at a painting. In the rock series, I planned to continue exploring the idea of whether a painting could be both representational and abstract, and through that, to a lesser extent, what exactly it meant for those terms to be defined.
For the cloth series, I focused on the works by Claudio Bravodone with fabric and textured paper. What I see in his work, and try to show in my own, is the feeling of lush texture and beauty that comes across in the cloth, although my work is done in a representational style, rather than in his hyper-realistic style. By looking at fabric as the sole object depicted, I seek to set up a sense of unfulfilled expectation with the viewer by not having other objects or things that would typically be expected to be seen in a painting, sometimes setting the fabric up so that it appears ready to cradle or hold something in its center, which is then left empty.
By not having any object other than the cloth in the painting, and with this sense of “unfulfilled expectation, I try to make prominent our awareness of our own expectations. Yet, being aware of this emptiness to such a degree, the space actually becomes filled- filled with an audience’s expectations so much so that it creates a paradox of a “filled emptiness” between expectations and what is seen. Through this series, I consider and share with others what it means for something to be “empty” and how we pre-fill things with our expectations.
The other series that I worked on simultaneously, the rock series, was started by looking at rocks with many vertical bands of colors, influenced by Patrick Heron’s “Horizontal Strip Painting,” and Morris Louis “Saraban.” The simplicity of their compositions made their use of color even more important, and I try to show this in my work as well, with many subtle color variations. I use multiple translucent layers of paint to show the complexity of the colors in the rocks and in order to build up depth in the paintings, particularly in areas where hints of crystal can be seen inside the rocks.
Although I also keep to a representational style for this series, I question whether a painting can be both representational and abstract at once, by magnifying and cropping the polished rocks I am looking at to the extent that even though the works are done in a extremely representational style, the audience cannot tell what the paintings are of, or if they are of anything at all. By having the paintings be something that looks abstract while still being representational, I seek to question the boundaries that are created by having set, defined notions about the lines of, and between, representational and abstract art instead of seeing all the possibilities when you let ideas shift, expand and change.