Historiography itself, let us already say, will not succeed in setting aside the continually derided and continually reasserted conviction that the final referent of memory remains the past, whatever the pastness of the past may signify.
— PAUL RICOEUR, MEMORY, HISTORY, FORGETTING
Drawing on the vast archive of painting and sculpture throughout the ages, each painting in this body of work begins as an investigation into the dynamics of a significant work of art – pieces that have had a profound impact on my development as a painter. Historic works of art and significant celestial events have thrilled my imagination since I was young. I have drawn in museums from paintings and sculptures all over the world and I continue to explore, investigate and dissect historic and contemporary art. I have chased a solar eclipse, watched meteor showers through the night, experienced multiple lunar eclipses and seen ancient notations of astronomically significant events on the walls of canyons and caves. I am always looking – everywhere – in an attempt to see. These seemingly disparate conversations have had a profound impact on my work, separately, for years – the melding and coalescing of these obsessions inform these paintings simultaneously.
There is a drawn and painted version of a specific notable work of art as the foundation or anchor for each painting. I may spend weeks or even a few months analyzing the composition, structure, color and space of the historic work, rendering an ‘under-painted’ version on the canvas. I am not making academic ‘reproductions’ of the paintings – rather they are translations, dissections and appropriations of sorts. I am utilizing the past to fortify my present. A number of the paintings are paired as diptychs. Both paintings start as the same appropriated historic work, side by side. I develop one as an exacting translation of the original within the signature painting style of my hand – the other, obscured, abstracted and re-contextualized. There is a dialogue in the pairings, which gives clues as to what came before, what is present and what, within my convictions, must change.
These historic works provide provenance and a literal history/memory for each canvas – from which I move forward to eclipse and re-contextualize the original piece and its conceptual theme. The paintings see an intuitive and emotional response to their historic point of departure – a transformation by means of obliteration. Using paint, various tools and my hands I rephrase the mired mythologies within the historic piece into a current context. Stopping short of what might be considered a formal ‘resolution,’ there is an unfinished and somewhat fragmented aspect to these paintings that retain the evidence of thought process and methodology – and simultaneously contradict the ‘completeness’ of each piece, or its partner. The historic source material is eclipsed, but not for merely a moment – they are obscured to reinterpret their outdated mythologies. These paintings are an invitation to exchange and expand personal narratives and investigate how they relate to each other and the world in which we live.
This exhibition is dedicated to Chuck Lyford. Chuck adventured through life to absolute maximum capacity – traversing the planet and her skies utterly confident and with gregarious vitality. He accomplished daring feats of the highest order, achieved extraordinary balance in all aspects of his life and attained paranormal success as a true hero of a human being. He accessed an ancient and atavistic code by which to exist and maneuver. He lived what he loved. He loved what he lived. He was a shaman and a calculated (and improvisational) risk taker. Because of all of this, he was a teacher by way of how he lived his life. Chuck’s impact on how I approach my work was, and will remain, profound.