I have never wondered what to paint. But for my entire life I have known that what I wished and the style ”language” with which I wished to speak would be despised.
I attended university when painting the figure was literally forbidden. I became a good abstract artist. After all, every work of art must rely upon its abstract or formalist structure to succeed. But I had a mania to tell stories.
Upon entering a museum I would see the paintings before me and could, of course, easily read their mythic stories. Rembrandt’s need to paint Bathsheba, synonymous with betrayal, moved me the most. Standing before those works I felt as if I were time traveling, seeing through that living man’s eyes.
I needed to learn that language to tell my own stories, often, also, of betrayal.
Painting, after all, was a language developed to tell hard truths through beauty. Artists developed a beautiful language of lies.
Life is meaningless chaos. So they gave us wholeness. One can only stand so many photos of drowned refugees or caged children before becoming numb. But one can look at The Flaying of Marsyus by Titian every day of one’s life.
Titian was not advocating hanging musicians by their heels and flaying them alive before a crowd, but he was making us watch, know. He was teaching us the extremes of human behavior, jealousy, vanity, and the pain a true man would endure to be himself.
I have always known that what I wished to paint, to convey, would be met with anger and scorn.
In college the conversation was about whether or not to allow our taped lines, as in Stella, to bleed or hold their edges. If not for the English department, I would have lost my mind.
Art was the subject of art, I was told in school. And all that meant to me was the reducing of a language that had held the greatest truths, paradoxes, and debates of the world into an insular game of badminton.
And they are here, breathing, working.
Honestly, when I was 17, entering college, I would not have believed that this would be possible. So I have ventured out, with my visual stories.