The intention behind my paintings (notably my self-portraits) is to explore story-telling through visual imagery, accompanied by short essays. The paintings are essentially free-standing, but after having gotten so many questions about both what my inspiration behind my paintings is and about how I achieved various effects, I have chosen to supplement my paintings with texts which address these questions. In addition, I wish to underscore the various levels of decision-making in both Art and Literature, along with the technical effects used to achieve the intended results. It is — as always — up to the Viewer/Reader to judge the degree of success achieved in their own eyes. My Art and writing are always meant and designed to invite the Viewer and Reader to participate emotionally and to encourage his/her own creative responses to my creations and ideas. Throughout the ages, interpretations of artists’ and writers’ aims, goals, and approaches (as well as the meanings of our work) have been left to critics and Art Historians. Artists and writers have been generally encouraged to remain quiet about their own work. Times have changed, and I choose to give both visual and literary hints and signposts regarding my thoughts, techniques, styles, and processes. In this way, I am better able to show the core of Art, Literature, Poetry, Dance, and Music — which are interrelated in the cognitive and subjective creative processes. My novels and poetry have always been “cinematic”, and it is also that aspect that I reinforce in my present work. At the same time, each painting approaches the various ideas, themes, and questions from a different style of painting — ranging from abstract to semi-realism. I experiment constantly with degrees of realism — making certain to stop short of too much detail, which decreases both subjectivity and space for the Viewer to participate with her/her own thoughts and recognition of personal experience. The essays are essentially free-verse poems, where the cognitive and technical discussions meld together with the subjective and visual imagery in the texts. Here poetic meter is more internal meter, and conceptual groupings of ideas are equally important as the choice of descriptive poetic imagery in the form of words chosen. This is all a continuation of my aforementioned philosophy regarding “Extreme Art and Literature”, which is based on the idea that Extreme Art and Literature today are not blatantly shocking in intent or effect; but rather quite “normal” in the expression of collective and individual ideas and technique but which contain a slight twist which evokes an element of slight surprise. That can be in the form of an unusual idea, color, stylistic decision, or anything else that causes a ripple in the way we think we see things. That momentary minor provocation is enough to incite in the Viewer and Reader a pause and reassessment of his/her own set perceptions. It is there that Creativity has its Renaissance within us as individuals, and then eventually in a collective sense.
Self-portraits enable me to approach many questions through my own eyes, thus allowing my own world view to meet and butt against collective perspectives, mores, and values. In order to inspire a renaissance in my own ongoing creative processes, I must allow myself to “unravel” from time to time. Accordingly, if I wish my Art and Literature to inspire new creative perceptions and ideas in others then I must also incite unraveling of closely-guarded assumptions about oneself, me, and the World.
I have approached self-portraiture in numerous and various styles; and always in my own way, for sure. This time I have explored Post-Impressionism, but in an updated fashion which is a step away from the works from the early 1900s. The “extreme art” element here is actually not the unraveling head. It is a popular theme in Surrealistic Art. Surrealism had its beginning at the tail end of Post-Impressionism, so in that regard, it perhaps could be seen as “extreme” by the established Post-impressionists and Impressionists in their hey-day. Surrealism is a standard and non-extreme expression of art today. But here the “extreme” and unsettling elements are the turquoise blue eyes on a Black man, as well as the unsettling naked look on his face — as though he is neither surprised nor alarmed by his unraveling. In addition, when things fly apart it is usually a traumatic experience. Here, instead, trauma is nullified by the serene and fluid background, which is as gentle as a brook or a summer sky. And just as an artist must acknowledge and wrestle with the aesthetic problem of naturalism versus abstraction, thus — here — the Mind of the Viewer must reason with human experience and memory … and in the world of extreme Art two plus two do not always add up to four. The image is even more dramatic in that the unraveling process is at the beginning stage, rather than totally realized. The Viewer can thus recognize the quiet panic that ensues when he/she knows that all is about to spin out of control.
The painting is meant to be disconcerting, if not startling under the surface. In today’s society the “Beautiful People” are those who are strong on the inside, albeit possibly seemingly emotionally approachable externally. I have presented myself in various ways through my self-portraits. Here I am neither in control over my psychology, nor am I emotional (human?). That, together with the turquoise eye color, almond-shaped eyes, twisted and flattened features that are almost mask like, and elongated forms (à Dali, Picasso, Chirico etc., who succeeded the post-Impressionists), creates an « alien » (alienating) effect that is uncomfortable. It is not so weird that it is unacceptable, but rather strange in a way that invades the consciousness. Alas, that Devil is also a part of me.