The initial impetus for painting came to me through exposure to the works of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. To this day, I remain committed to the idea of spiritual abstraction and to the development of painting and its history from the 15th century to today. Influences from the past would include Duccio, Giotto, Velasquez and Matisse.
I have lived all over the world, including many years in the Far-East, and my works include the somewhat romantic idea that exotic and mysterious places can be contained within painting – giving us all a taste of the unknown without having to make the journey ourselves.
In recent years, I have made paintings that I hope contain the spirit of places as diverse as a pirate cemetery in Madagascar, the grand 19th-century hotels and palaces of India and the Far East, a Mayan Temple in Southern Yucatan, or the remote deserts of North Africa, just to name a few. My past work is an attempt to deal with the code of ethics, aesthetics and spirituality that runs throughout the history of humanity. This includes the warrior code of the Samurai, the devotion and loyalty of people such as Saint Francis of Assisi, the great tradition of Russian Orthodox Icon painting and finally homage to the sublime, ethereal portraits of Leonardo DaVinci.
My current paintings (and show) reflect the time that I lived in Normandy, some years ago. I rented a studio in a village called Thury-Harcourt and became captivated by the silence and beauty of Cistercian abbeys. I travelled around France to visit and photograph these places of mystery and sanctuary. Later, I would search through the history of icon painting, and the faith and power of Byzantium, in order to imbue my paintings with that sense of commitment to ideals of spirituality that have always fascinated me. This has been the focus of my work for the last 5 or 6 years.
For this current show, I wanted to revisit the idea of the Cistercian abbeys and thought of calling the show “Architecture of Silence”. As the paintings progressed, they seemed to take on their own life. Instead of being open, reductive and meditative, some, though not all, became noisy and complex, reflecting the turmoil of this past decade, in spite of my objections to this notion. I decided, in keeping with the original concept, to title some of these new works according to the sense of place they invoked, relative to the sources of those abbeys discussed; the general exhibition title being CATHEDRAL. Cathedrals being much more complex in design and execution and indeed more suited to the evolution of the paintings. I would be happy if these new works might give the viewer a glimpse of the history and spirit left behind by these buildings because we no longer build cathedrals, but we do (and especially in America) continue to build wonderful museums, which are the cathedrals of our time
Omaha, March 2011
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