A Nostalgic Nowhere
Places of loss are deconstructed and distorted in my paintings. Visions of parks, waterfront plazas, playgrounds and other nostalgic public places are remembered, constructed, and demolished. Time expands into a lifetime, and then gets compressed into a single, catastrophic moment. These places deny the viewer the comfort of representing any specific location, and yet seem uncannily familiar. Bridges, transparent structures, and architectural remnants stretch monumentally across the paintings. Built forms transgress from optimistic ideas of the future into ruined, crumbling memorials of a forgotten past. The claustrophobic compositions press relentlessly upon the imaginary places. Pathways sometimes lead out of the frame — a connection to a better world.
Space is also disrupted in the paintings. Empty patches, rigorous mark-making and flattened planes of colour undermine a coherent sense of depth. Reality is continuously rejected and yet a sentimental quality remains. There is a tension between a sense of what could be, what the creator hoped there should be, and what is actually happening. Narrative possibilities are both grand and minor, describing any number of terrifying calamities that occur daily in the urban setting.
The drawn elements of the architecture and the figures create a feeling of unease with the ambiguity of their presence. Perhaps they are merely figments of an environmental designer’s imagination? The people appear to be relaxed or pensive, unimpressed by the destruction around them. They occupy their own space — as much ornaments to the surroundings as they are to the architecture. Nature becomes the active agent, reeking violence or whispering unpleasant outcomes. Hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires rage in the paintings and yet the people linger, unaffected or unaware of the events unfolding around them.
In Category One, three boys go about their daily business as the waters swell at their feet. Hopefully the translucent, glowing orbs in the background will be light enough to float. In It Was a Long, Hot Summer a boy sits among the smoldering stumps of a wildfire. The boy, the blackened trees and the empty house exist in different planes, seemingly at different times. In Left Behind, the pedestrians have abandoned the plaza, their luggage and shopping bags the lone reminders of a more glorious past. In Some Untidy Spot a bridge appears to be collapsing, transforming the picnickers into doomsday spectators. The small paintings, Collapse and Collision depict quick, sudden moments where something puzzling and unpleasant has just happened or is about to happen.