I am a self-taught painter of abstract pictures inspired by music, poetry and mythology. The purpose of my art is to communicate thoughts and feelings that are difficult to express in words. Abstract painting is especially suited to this challenge, although it can seem very difficult to understand, because, like music and poetry, it has an immediate expressive force capable of bypassing habitual ways of thinking and feeling. Now that abstraction is familiar to everyone—a staple of waiting rooms and furniture catalogues—the challenge is to create new forms that engage the mind, rather than fulfilling a merely decorative role.
I have no fixed style. Each of my paintings is an experiment dictated by its particular subject matter. I do not try to conceal the effort that goes into producing them; as the original modernists understood, a certain awkwardness adorns every honest attempt to convey something new, difficult, or unfamiliar. Rough edges, exposed paper and visible brush strokes are often retained for their expressive force, but I avoid heavy impasto, drips and other virtuoso techniques that might draw too much attention to the paint itself—and away from what I am trying to convey through it. The result is often hard to process, an interplay of symmetries and asymmetries, every detail overwrought. Nevertheless, there is always a quiet lyricism in my work, and an abiding belief in the power of sublime and beautiful forms to transport the mind.
Human culture is a cumulative process; it might not be evolving in a straight line, but it is certainly evolving, always crystallizing anew, catching new light, refracting and reflecting, exposing new regions of the obscurity within which we live our lives. Learning to understand, to draw upon, and to contribute to this process of evolution has been the goal of many artists, and it is also mine. To that end, my paintings often ‘illustrate’ various historical and contemporary sources of inspiration. Because they are abstract, this is not so different from a composer taking a poem and ‘setting it to music’ to create a song—in both cases, an existing work of art is incorporated into an abstract medium of sound or, in my case, colour.
I see this historical process of re-assimilation as the best way of truly ‘remembering’ what our predecessors laboured to understand, and as an essential factor in the healthy development of human culture—which tends to throw its babies out with its (undoubtedly murky) historical bathwater. Increasingly, this fraught heritage is seen as the sole preserve of museums, scholars and antiquarians. But, as ever, it falls to artists to breath living life into the cultural inheritance of humanity, thereby contributing to the endlessly pressing task of understanding ourselves and the world around us.