An Historical Context for this Work
Willem de Kooning saw the world as a cosmos in need of discovery. His word for this was“ a placeless environment “ Using an experimental process which envolved spontaneous action and critical judgment, he made choices about what was (or was not ) essential to the world being revealed in his painting. In this way the things that he chose to include acquired essential value (meaning) and the rest fell away as inconsequential matter. De Kooning seemed to be content staying on the islands of his discoveries in an otherwise meaningless world.
Mark Rothko experienced no such contentment. The world to him was a quagmire of spiritually debilitating forces. He sought the means to leap free from it into a state of sublime transcendence. Fields of colored forms were his means. The spaces between the edges of these fields were the reminders of what it meant to be human, to be vulnerable. The colored fields, however, offered an euphoric state of unity.
Both of these painters find their roots in Northern European thought about the role of nature in one’s spiritual / aesthetic development. Since the Flemish Primitives in the 14th Century nature was thought to be the metaphorical vehicle through which a person experiences the omnipotence of the Creator and his place in relationship.
I think of myself as part of that same tradition. My work often shows the naturalistic particularity of the Flemish Primitives while at the same time it hints at a much larger experience of universality. A movement through space for me represents a movement through life. I think of horizons as the line of demarcation between the measurable and the unknown; the corporal and the spiritual; life and resurrection. German Romantics in the 19th Century thought like this as did the American Transcendentalists. Often for these men, longing was the stuff of life.
In the 20th Century, psychologists such as Freud and Jung sught scientific explanations for these longings.Surrealism became the visual manifestation of their theories.Andre Breton, in the first Manefesto of Surrealism, said that “ the dream and the dream alone was reality” and that artists should find the means to bridge the gap between the waking state (consciousness ) and the dream state ( the subconscious ). The automatic writing techniques of the Surrealists extended into the “ action “ painting of de Kooning. The archetypes of Jung informed Rothko and set him on his journey toward consumate glory.
I was weaned on these ideas and this nationalized historical tradition.I came into my own as a professional artist in 1958 at the height of Abstract Expressionism. Its existentialist base coupled with a hefty dose of Catholic education set me on the course presented in the body of work contained here.