Artist's Statement

{to the Gallery}



For the last several years I have been working on a series of large-scale figurative works combining painting, sculpture, and poetry.  In searching for ways to make traditional art compelling again, both to the eye and to the intellect, I have pulled together some ideas from the past, including those of William Blake and Matthias Grunewald.  It is my belief that art can continue to impress the viewer with its beauty and content, even in this age of deconstruction and irony.  Art is not dead, and I believe I can prove it.

      To present this to the public, I have produced a major work~a Triptych Altarpiece~and a number of smaller works that support it.  The triptych is a high profile piece, one that can bear a very high price as well as very large claims.  The smaller works are included for those who want to spend less.  For instance, in the case of the Triptych Altarpiece of Harriet Westbrook Shelley, a part of the major work is a small bronze.  This bronze has an edition of 33.  These other bronzes can be sold to those who are interested in the Triptych but who have no place for it.  Sketches for the central painting can also be sold in the same way.  Other of my recent nudes can be exhibited as peripheral interest.  Almost everything I produce has subject matter or mood related to this triptych, and can easily be shown with no explanation.  This allows a vast price range, from a few thousand to well into six figures. 

      I have imagined this triptych (and others to follow) with the express purpose of creating a stir~ a stir of the old sort, a Gates of Hell stir rather than a shark-in-a-tank stir.  For too long the avant garde has had all the ambition.  While traditional art was stuck in a technical rut during the 20th century, and in most cases is now little more than an exercise, PoMo was usurping art history~ coopting the media and taking politics as an ally.  But in doing so it jettisoned craft, beauty, subtlety, and aesthetic content.  It has cut itself off from all mystery and all sources of inspiration.  It has proved to be, I think, an implosion with a finite lifespan, one predetermined by its own theoretical underpinning.  Robert Hughes, a great apologist for PoMo in the seventies, claimed that, even by its own definition, it was dead by 1980. 

      The main question for art in the 21st century will be the same as it was in the 19th century: What is worth painting or sculpting or otherwise representing?  Deconstruction and self-criticism, the great motivators of the 20th century, are no longer viable for the simple reason that there is nothing left to critique, nothing left to analyze.  The entire world has been strafed and there is nothing left standing.  We exist as on the surface of the moon.  Rebombing a charred landscape is no longer interesting.  What is needed is reconstruction.

   Theory has disallowed most things, most things that were allowed from the time of Praxiteles to the time of Van Gogh, so this question of what to create is not so easy to answer.  Any positive art will be attacked as regressive, no matter the depth or sincerity of its content or the beauty of its conception.  However there remain, and always will remain, those who appreciate quality, and who refuse to be shackled by theory.  Art is not theory.  Nor is it art criticism.  Art is not analysis, it is synthesis.  It is the bringing together of image and emotion.  If you forbid both image and emotion, you are left with only conception and politics, and you have a very distorted definition of art. 

   The only way to overcome this distortion is to transcend it.  I have always believed that art needed a new Rubens or a new Rodin: a powerful figure who overcame opposition by simply outbullying it.  By creating works of such grandeur and power they defied all theoretical attack.  And then by aggressively disputing all defiance that arose nonetheless.  I may or may not be a new Rodin, but I am confident that my work can withstand the attacks of my contemporaries.  And I am doubtful that they can withstand my attacks on them.

      To prove that art is not dead, I am presenting this Triptych as an historical first.  It will be argued that because it deals with a story from the past, it is thereby regressive and irrelevant.  By this sort of reasoning, it could be stated with equal precision that Hamlet is, and was, irrelevant, not only for us, but for the Elizabethans it was written for.  But this Triptych in fact tells a story never before told by art, neither by literature nor poetry nor painting nor sculpture.  It has been heretofore overlooked.  Beyond that, the Triptych combines media in a way never before attempted in history.  By combining poetry, calligraphy, painting, sculpture, design, woodworking, and performance, all in one piece, and on an epic scale, I have achieved something completely novel.   And by doing all that at this point in history I have also thrown down the gauntlet.  I have crossed the line in the sand.  I have done everything disallowed all at once, and made it work, in the face of all opposition.  It is my next goal to show it in New York City, the home of art theory, and to offer myself as a refutation to all those who have claimed that "all that is over."  We will see who is "over."