Wild cucumber grows vigorously in central New Hampshire, where I live. By late summer, it’s vines and small cucumber-like seed pods overrun bushes and small trees. After the retreat of winter, desiccated vines and dry pod husks remain. The fleshy parts of the pods are gone, leaving a paper thin envelope surrounding a delicate mesh skeleton, all housing a couple of seeds. These pods are beautiful and fascinating.
For a number of years I have kept a mass of dried wild cucumber vines and pods in a box in my studio as potential subject matter. Several years ago I began to use them. A number of paintings into the project, the pods were the heart of the work. Pod forms took over, degenerated into outlines, multiplied crazily, becoming hundreds and sometimes thousands of outlines, crushing and piling one upon another.
Literal reference fell away. The paintings became an exploration of interesting things that happen with paint and large numbers of nominally simple marks. The marks are complex, rough, quasi-circular piles and assemblages with colliding colors and textures. Every millimeter is painted, overpainted, dripped, dragged, wiped, scumbled, and sloshed upon. The work lives best at a very energized state.
These paintings have been, and are, about many things. They are very much about color. They are about complexity. They are about surface and physicality, texture and mass. They are about a sense of infinity. They are about finding emotion through experience. They are about scale. They are about paint and it’s numinous vocabulary. They are about what happens when paint is applied, sometimes dozens of times, over the area around a previous mark, until the mark is buried and magnified simultaneously. They are about creating a path for the eye to wander a complex surface. They are about a sense of the third dimension, literal depth in a painting.
In this extended series of pod/circle paintings, I have painted, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of circle shapes. Any surprise would now seem unlikely. Yet the project still keeps unveiling the unexpected. The "pods project" began with pods and organic form, and has changed into an ever novel investigation of surface, complexity, perception, and the physicality of paint.
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