One of the first major influences on my visual work were the films of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). Films like The Seventh Seal (1957) and Wild Strawberries (1957) had a profound effect on my earliest pictorial thinking and priorities. Part of Bergman’s appeal came from his stark black and white movies, but I was also captivated by his thematic emphasis; films that probed symbolic and emotional language, psychological realism, and issues such as memory, old age, and the reality of death and cruelty. Another influence that came from Bergman’s films was the versatility of his stable of actors (Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Gunnar Bjornstand, and Ingrid Thulin, among others) and their capacity to assume different roles with comparable command and conviction. This creative capacity is what draws me to actors like the late Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, or Anthony Hopkins; all have demonstrated the ability to become chameleon-like from one film to the next. In some ways, that’s what I try to do with many of my visual images. I think of them as reflections, or my own “actors.”
I realized early on that when one finishes a picture one has revealed but one solution to a given picture idea. Instead of jumping to a totally different picture idea – from a landscape to still life, for example- I often make a second, or third version of the same image. Monet did this with his waterlilies. He stayed with the same subject material from canvas to canvas, yet each painting yielded a different solution. In “squeezing” given subject material like this, I’ve found that two things usually happen: (1) the image will invariably undergo a change in appearance, or emphasis, and (2) after finishing x-number of variations, one picture will often emerge as the strongest of the lot.
These two works are offered as examples of my love of “reflections:” At the left is Crucible of Deceit, a watercolor with colored pencil from 2009. At the right is Forgiveness, an acrylic painting from 2019. Both present faces with similar hybrid parts, but each addresses a different theme. From my way of thinking, Deceit is a softer treatment of the face than Forgiveness in which I tried to convey a darker, uglier countenance. Both works are the visual descendants of a small monoprint (Green Boy) from 2009, a work done just prior to Crucible of Deceit.
There are several other works included in this exhibition that reveal this propensity of mine, including Winter Plums (2019). It followed Plums (1993) and Defiant Warrior (2004).
Winter Plums (2019) Acrylic on Canvas