I paint that I will
21 December 2013
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you”
Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”
“From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being”
William Wordsworth “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”
It is said that it is darkest just before the dawn, but in the darkness, everything is possible for there are no shadows and no horizons. That’s how I felt, going every day to my studio, without reason, to do nothing, clinging to my depression as consolation for losing my way within a system.
“ISANG does not profile or endorse individual artists without the interpretive intervention of curatorial activity, whether this is directed by one of ISANG’s staff curators or by an external curator in consultation with ISANG’s own curators. This is to ensure that a minimum degree of institutional impartiality and public accessibility is maintained. Therefore, henceforth we will liaise only with [the curator] on all curatorial decisions, and Kendell [Geers] will be consulted where necessary, and as a courtesy”
Such were the harsh terms and conditions contractually imposed upon me by the South African National Gallery and my once upon a time best friend, the curator of my first retrospective in the country of my skull. My contemporary desire and historical intentions meant little in the face of a system that protects the weak and stupid behind desktop bureaucracies of power. How could Marcel Duchamp’s statement that “the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act”1 been so badly misunderstood ? It has grown ever more common to denigrate the power of the artist in favour of the curator and collector, but rarely in my experience to such extremes. Eventually the ineptitude of the National Gallery’s appointed curator and their own museological incompetence lead to the show being cancelled, but they were all too quick to blame it on “the artist” for having “interfered too much” in his own retrospective. The damage had been done and I slowly baked myself in pity and despair with creative resignation.
Then one day, I risked peering through the dark clouds of doubt and despair and noticed the faintest glimmer of light upon a horizon that I did not even know existed. It was a spark of impossible, the glow of the inconceivable and a sparkle of insanity, as the sun was rising upon the realisation that I had spent a year of my depression making paintings. Not some conceptual trick or a self-conscious parody of painting, but simply paint on canvas.
As a strict disciple of Marcel Duchamp, so called retinal art was the domain of the arch enemy and foremost amongst the ranks of the foe was painting. I had even once made a work of art about his disdain, quoting Duchamp’s favourite aphorism “Bête Comme un Peintre”(as stupid as a painter) Adding insult to injury, I remember recoiling in horror at Matisse’s words “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” From an early age I had decided that I would never make art for the tired businessman, never make art that avoided the pains of my lived experience and certainly I would never compromise my art to make paintings.
As I look back now, I understand, perhaps as self-consolation, that my first steps into the world of paint were everything but “an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter” for from my anger and despair, I began pissing on canvasses painted with copper and watching with alchemical amusement as they transformed into “vert de gris” under the influence of my urine. I had neither an intention nor did I consider what I was doing to be anything but a cathartic exorcism as I laid waste to the memories of a friend, colleague and my faith in the very institution of art. But, for reasons unknown, I did not stop there and leapt out into the darkness on a pilgrimage that would take me beyond the boundaries of everything I had ever been taught, thought I understood and way beyond the limits of what I thought I believed in.
The great twentieth century magus Aleister Crowley defined magick as the method of science with the aim of religion. For many years now, I had been searching in all the wrong places to find a way to create in harmony with that same spirit and principle. It is especially difficult to speak of an impalpable spirit in an art world saturated with gross materialism, a system that has abandoned integrity, vision and sincerity in favour of profit dictated by taste. Rituals of consumption have all but eroded away the transformative power of art and with every art fair the spirit of art dies a little more.
All creation myths begin with chaos, the darkness before the dawn, the inconceivable nothingness of divine creation ex nihilo. “Chaos (Greek χάος, khaos) refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth.”2 Out of this chaos, God, or the Gods created order in the forms of night and day, earth and sky, air and water and eventually the fauna and flora until at the very end, human beings were created in the image of God, or the Gods. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” Genesis 1:27
It is because of this implicit embodiment of the divine will, that at heart, every human being is defined by an intrinsic need to believe, whether that be Biblical, Capitalist, Atheist or Marxist by nature. In the end our faith, call it hope if you must, is all ways that which defines us.
Once I had cleared my mind and understood that my depression was only polluting my being and scarring my perceptions, I opened my mind and allowed the spirit of painting to reveal itself to me. The unrolled, unstretched, canvas lay mutely upon the studio floor, a virgin white sheet of infinite potential. This “Prima Materia” of my creative potential awaited, with neither judgement nor prejudice, the form, content, intention and embodiment of my imagination. I have since found that the only way into the canvas was literally with, and through my entire body, for my thoughts alone could not support my imaginary weight needed to hurl myself within the meters of cotton or linen beckoning and teasing with coy insolence. I found that thinking with my stomach and feet, with my penis and prostate, with my back and elbows, knees and lungs, made me intelligent in ways that thinking with my hands and cerebral cortex alone could not. I remember thinking about Jackson Pollock and Yves Klein but could not stop myself there. According to Goethe, “The human being himself, to the extent that he makes sound use of his senses, is the most exact physical apparatus that can exist.” Whilst he was speaking in terms of a holistic science, he could just as well have been describing my own method of creation for I am using my entire body, my full holistic being, as my paintbrush.
In Istanbul fortune tellers throw molten lead into water or break open a raw egg, observe coffee grinds in an upturned cup, as means to read a person’s past, present and future. In the hands of a gifted seer, these seemingly unrelated random processes of chance are the tools that enable the visionary to see through and beyond the bounds of time and space. In South Africa Sangomas (“witchdoctors”) throw sticks, stones and bones, in Europe they read Tarot Cards, in Asia tea leaves, but it’s never about the medium as much as about the seer, for any object or process that s/he has faith in may be used. The object or process is merely the trigger or key with which to open the doors of perception for everything that exists is connected and interconnected to everything else within the divine matrix. Perceiving something changes the nature of that thing and vice-versa. At its most scientifically reductive, the quantum physicist’s intention to prove either the wave or particle nature of sub-atomic reality changes the results of the experiment as two mutually exclusive irreconcilable contraries can exist simultaneously in the past, present and future, in different places within the universe, all depending on the perception and intention of the scientist.
I would even suggest, as so many mystics, occultists and Jungian psychologists have, that there is no such thing as chance, nor even synchronicity, that every seemingly random event or process that takes place around us, is in fact a mirror of a divine destiny. Is it not curious that classic psychologists and sceptics are very willing to accept the Rorschach Test as proof of an unconscious, to readily accept the results of such tests, but cannot accept that this unconscious world might be every bit as real as the world we call reality. Whether we accept or believe in it, all things created share the same divine spark and therefor connected and interconnected by mystical thinking threads so the layout of the tarot cards are not coincidental so much as the external mirror of an internal reality.
The canvas yields, ever so slowly, but still demands complete commitment on my part. My entire body and being, mind and spirit is summoned in the exorcism of consciousness and perception that must take place before the paint accepts to write itself upon the canvas of my soul within my imagination. I cast my paint upon the floor, like Jackson Pollock throwing dice, trusting that every splash, blot, mark, stain, bleed and blur is guided by the unseen forces of my true will in harmony with nature. The paint explodes like a cocktail of fireworks in a dark stormy sky. I trust in the canvas field as much as in the intelligence of the paint, in the animistic spirits of the mineral, vegetable, animal and chemical pigments, as we all collaborate in laying down a destiny like the seers molten lead finding form in water. William Burroughs and Brion Gysin might have called this unseen intelligence the “Third Mind” and William Blake would have named it “Second Sight,” Wordsworth called it the “language of the sense,” but for me it’s simply a force of my nature in tune with all others.
Like every student of conceptual art, I had read Sol Lewitt’s “Sentences on Conceptual Art” and like everybody else did not pay much attention to what was written so much as to what I wanted to read. For too long, I glossed over the very first sentence that sets the tone for the entire manifesto, that “Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.”3
Without any equivocation Lewitt locates conceptual art within the realms of mysticism and beyond the logic of rational understanding and linear language. At first, I had mistrusted my paintings as therapy, denied that I had been foolish enough to cross over the threshold from conceptual art into the autographic domain of gesture, but then it struck me like a bolt of lightning, that I had in fact left all rational logic behind and leapt into an irrational abyss and was in fact creating quintessential “Conceptual Art.”
None of it made any sense and the self-appointed janitors and doorman of the art market would certainly never grant me access into their endless lists of artists who are rewarded for doing the right thing, but I certainly felt as though I had not sold my soul to the devil so much as taken another step into the unknown on the stairway to heaven. Given that Duchamp had lied about the last two decades of his life, lied that he had given up making art to play chess, when in fact he was secretly working on “Etant Donne,” his last masterpiece which would turn out to be his least readymade and most classic sculpture of all, I felt happy to embrace the turn of events that destiny had thrust upon my preconceptions of art. Such a conclusion, that today, conceptual artists might follow an irrational logic into the mystical domain, via painting, certainly flies in the face of every expectation and assumption might just prove to be every bit as subversive as a dry self-defined sentence on a wall or a banal repetitive 8,7 cm stripe was in 1968.
Painting differs from sculpture, at least as I had been working, in that painting begins from absolutely nothing apart from an empty canvas support, the clean white sheet of haunting emptiness, the portal into Yves Klein’s “Void.” Every mark, line, dot or shape has meaning and soils the purity of the field. A single dot is enough to punctuate and resonate with meaning beyond our ability to comprehend. A dot may be the viral spark of an idea, the full stop at the end of an epic, the smallest blemish that sets the virgin aside and is the mark of the beast. From the point to the line and into the triangle, the dimensions unfold and add up. From the square to the pentagram, on to the hexagram, layers of meaning and complexity evolve, layer upon layer until Plato’s octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron and Mandelbrot’s fractal images provide us with the keys into reading reality.
From beneath the linear dimensions the fields of colour emerge, harmonies and disharmonies alike, washes and glows, runs and bleeds. Colour fascinates because it is both a condition of ephemeral light and at the same time the two retinal psychological expression of emotion. We are coloured by the experience of light and dark whether it be riding the wavelengths of light or surfing the surface of pigments. “Goethe pictures to himself that light and darkness relate to each other like the north and south pole of a magnet. The darkness can weaken the light in its working power. Conversely, the light can limit the energy of the darkness. In both cases colour arises” (Rodolf Steiner). In Goethe’s own words “Yellow is a light which has been dampened by darkness; Blue is a darkness weakened by light”
Colour introduced itself upon the canvas of my experience emotionally, spiritually, symbolically as well as through the prism of pigment and perception, simultaneously being both tactile and totemic. The pigments are never simply about colour for they retain and, embody the memory and animistic spirits of their animal, mineral or vegetable source. Vermillion is created through the highly toxic explosion of mercury and sulphur heated until the form the alchemical marriage of male and female forces, the creative and destructive principles, the impossible union of fire and water.
Whilst most contemporary pigments can now be chemically engineered, their emotional, symbolic and spiritual resonances remain rooted within their alchemical origins. The mortally dangerous health risks of creating Vermillion made it worth its weight in gold in the Middle Ages for it was the alchemical marriage that, if properly understood held the key that would ultimately transform lead in gold. Even today pure Cinnabar, the naturally occurring equivalent mineral found at the sulphurous edge of active volcanoes, remain amongst the most expensive natural pigments on the market. In the fourth century BC purple dyes were traded for its weight at the same price as silver, for it was extremely difficult to extract the pigment from the shells of carnivorous sea snails. This value lies at the root of both Papal Purple and Royal Blue.
In a system known as Gematria, Kabbalists assign numbers to letters and vice versa. Every word is a number and reality is as much numerological as it is physical. It is believed that to know the true name and number of God would grant one the very power of God. We erroneously assume that these signs, symbols and numbers are our rational logical means with which to understand highly complex divine concepts, but what if they were really at the origin of creation ? According to the Koran, the first thing that Allah created was the pen with it he then wrote the world into existence. The bible confers that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”4
It is testimony to our human ego that we assume without any hesitation that we are God’s gift to the world and simply assume our intelligence to be superior to all others. Even if the Bible tells us so, we certainly could never accept that “words” may have created us rather than the other way around, that words, symbols, signs and images may turn out to be the blueprint in the creations of the world as we don’t understand it. As hard as I have tried, I have not been able to escape the eternal return of these symbols, the haunting of signs that force themselves upon me as the paintings seem to give birth to their own selves with me as their midwife.
The ancients seem to have known this better than we do and explained such things in their myths and with their superstitions. Gurus, mystics, alchemists, shamans, monks, pagans and some musicians, artists and poets have spoken of it in their poetry, in their holy books and bibles, with their paintings, music, prophecies and fairy tales. At least two Nobel Prize winning scientists (Kary Mullis and Francis Crick) have confessed to have received the keys to their scientific discoveries whilst tripping on LSD. According to Aleister Crowley “In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, any stimulant of whatever nature operates by destroying temporarily the inhibitions of education. The ordinary man loses the veneer of civilisation. But if you get the right man, the administration of a drug is quite likely to supress his mental facilities, with the result that his genius is set free” (Diary of a Drug Fiend)
Years after his death, Carl Jung’s “Red Book” was finally made public, a book written by means “of a technique developed by Jung which he termed active imagination. As Jung described it, he was visited by two figures, an old man and a young woman, who identified themselves as Elijah and Salome. They were accompanied by a large black snake. In time, the Elijah figure developed into a guiding spirit that Jung called Philemon (ΦΙΛΗΜΩΝ, as originally written with Greek letters). The figures, according to Jung, "brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. The Philemon figure represented superior insight and communicated through mythic imagery. The images did not appear to come from Jung's own experience and Jung interpreted them as products of the collective unconscious"5
The open format of the empty canvas opened my eyes to ways of being and modes of seeing that no other medium of art ever had before. Having been forged upon the anvil of disillusionment and forced through the eye of the needle of despair, I felt like the proverbial camel in the cultural desert and knew better than to resist. I walked the thin line between that which was in within my control and that which I could not control, call it chaos, disorder, entropy or what you will. Creation and destruction in balance, mutually irreconcilable, never at peace. Too much creation and harmony and the results are predictably comfortable, slipping into lifeless kitsch. In contrast too much destruction generates discomfort to the point of nausea. It’s vitally important that my work be built upon the foundation of points of contact and points of resistance, the contact zone being the vocabulary and languages conceded us through the annals of history, the security of being able to browse the legacies of art and its codes. And yet the avant garde cycle of life demands the symbolic killing of the historical father which can only be done through the violence of the unknown.
In many ways I imagine that Francis Picabia might be the father I have to kill (and Rrose Sellavy of course my symbolic mother) and his “La Sainte Vierge” the umbilical cord from which I hang my paintings. A few simple drops of Indian Ink marks the virgin territory that give rise to an unparalleled symbolic embodiment. Historically the deceptively simple gesture, first reproduced in the March 1920 issue of Picabia’s “391” journal, has been interpreted at classic Dada provocation. It is read as a heretical and sacrilegious insult against both art history and Catholic faith. It has been suggested that the ink represent the blood stains of a virgin birth or even the loss of virginity itself, the blood of defilement.
Most art historians bound to their armchairs of conventional perception, locked into three dimensions of rational logic, sweep this work into the trashcan of history as a prime example of Dada absurdity and pure nonsense. As proof, Picabia is quoted as saying “We strive toward White considered as a psychic entity, or to give concrete expression to this goal through the immutable relations of colour and music, we strive toward pure ‘tone’ = 435 vibrations.” Very aptly, he continues and explains that ”It is only after the continuous and infinite awakening of the ‘self’ that we have grown able to perceive this immeasurable ideal in the space of nothingness” 6
Absurd to the extreme, and yet reading the very same quote from an animistic point of view makes perfect sense. The disregard of Cartesian logic does not make Picabia’s work and statements nonsense so much as non-sense, the perfectly sound conclusion that rationalists cannot reach.
In another less well known reproduction of the same image within the pages of another journal “Les Hommes du Jour,” Picabia juxtaposes his holy virgin with Ingres’ “La Vierge Adorant l'Hostie” from 1841 beneath the title “Deux Ecoles.” With an open mind, it reads as a clear indication that he did not consider his ink blot sacrilegious so much as a different perception of a classic subject, a point of resistance within a point of contact. In the Ingres version, the virgin prays devoutly to the Eucharist wafer, the unleavened bread that from a Catholic point of view is the animistic embodiment of the Christ’s spirit, whereas Picabia’s holy virgin is at once both the ink and the paper as much as it is the animistic embodiment of the virgin.
“Accidents were awful things. She winked again. The mast was straight; the waves were regular; the lighthouse was upright; but the blot had spread” (Virginia Woolf, “Jacob’s Room”)
Picabia’s holy virgin is none other than “Mother Nature” and “Father Destiny” in a symbolic celebration of their divine union. The ink made from soot, the black residue of fire, is cast upon the paper according to the laws of chance and gravity in a divine ejaculatory splash that takes on the shape and form of a destiny that might even be read by a shaman or seer. Meaning is acquired as much through the perception and reading of the viewer or seer as through the intention of the artist, but above all else, the virgin speaks with an inked tongue. Under other circumstances she might manifest in or as a cave or waterfall, with tears of blood or even, as she did to Bernard of Clairvaux, spouting forth milk from her breasts.
The question I was left to answer was what if believing might not be seeing and what if there might well be other intelligences at work. What if our five senses of perceiving the three generally accepted dimensions were nothing more than a transmitting and receiving apparatus and that our true selves existed in worlds (and words) far beyond that which the apparatus is able to understand, much less even perceive ? What if the selves we think of as the real, and the world we live in, is only one tiny facet of our greater being within a world infinitely more dimensionally complex than we could ever imagine ? What if the Rorschach ink blot or Picabia’s “La Sainte Vierge” are not so much windows into our unconscious, as the very keys through which our other selves are opening doors in order to communicate with us ? According to the Rig Vedas, one of the oldest books ever written, this world of three dimensions and five senses is “māyā” nothing more than an illusion. The Tibetan Buddhists and Hopi Indians believe, as did William Blake, that the worlds of dreams and the imagination is the real and everything else illusion. With our transmitting receiving five senses we are able to receive glimpses of our greater selves through dreams, visions and embodied as art, poetry, theatre, music and dance. We were created in the image of God/s so it would stand to reason that we must surely be more than the material and mechanism of our flesh, bones, breath and thoughts. How could creatures created in the very image of God/s be reduced to three dimensions and five senses in a world as simplistic as that which Cartesian rationalists would have us believe ?
Semele, Dionysis’ mortal mother was tricked by Hera into demanding that Zeus, her mystical lover, reveal himself to her in all his divine glory. Having in turn being tricked himself, Zeus had no other choice than to reveal himself to her and so in a flash of divine glory, so intense, poor Semele burst into flames and Dionysis henceforth completed his gestation inside his father’s thigh. I suspect that the truth hidden within the layers of this particular myth is that our mortal three dimensional selves would probably burst into flames if ever exposed to the full glory of our multidimensional selves. In the Rig Vedas this must surely be what is meant by the Kundalini, the coiled serpent that lives at the base of our spines (in the sacrum no less) and which, when awakened, leads to enlightenment, but only if one is ready for the fire, for if not leads either to madness or death.
Could this also be the “fire below” that Duchamp alludes to with his “L.H.O.O.Q.” Mona Lisa hermaphrodite ? When spoken, the letters L.H.O.O.Q. annunciate into the words "Elle a chaud au cul" which literally translates as "She is hot in the arse." In the very same year, 1919, Duchamp’s best friend, Picabia, used the very same letters in a painting called “Le Double Monde” (The Double World) in which the words “haut” and “bas” (above and below) mark their territory upon a strange figure eight or upturned lemniscate, the same symbol of infinity featured above the heads of the Magician and Strength card in the Rider Waite Tarot deck from 1909.
The saintly words Teresa of Ávila might be the best known European description of this fiery process of awakening “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying”7
I suspect that the battle between the mythological Titans and Olympians is taking place not in ancient mythological history, but within our selves, on a daily basis, as the various facets, in multiple dimensions and incomprehensible forms, battle for supremacy. According to Rodolf Steiner one needs to embark on a mystical journey that begins with “Recognizing that the true essence of a human being does not lie in the person's outer appearance, but rather in the inner nature, in the soul and spiritual existence of this person” and that “one's thoughts and feelings have as significant an influence as one's deeds” because “one's inner life is as important as work on one's outer life.” When the three dimensional transmitter/receiver of our mortal selves, in flesh and blood, takes the time to develop their ultra-sensitive selves, we gain access to our higher selves, but when the transmitter/receiver gets clogged up and polluted with Cartesian logic we run the risk of being reduced to mortal material dust and nothing more.
The I Ching, Tarot, molten lead cast into water, coffee grinds, bones and every other method of divination works simply because our higher selves exist beyond the bounds of time and space, and once the rational mind is silenced we gain access to these other worlds. Millions of people around the world and across the centuries practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, chi kung, acupuncture, homeopathy, superstition and magick, take ayuhuasca, iboga, mushrooms or LSD to the same end, the silencing of the monkey mind that tries to reduce the experience of reality to its most mundane.
Humanity’s greatest fear, at least in the Occidental world, is the notion of pre-destiny, that our lives are not lived with free choice but that everything has already been written into some divine book and we are no more than destiny’s puppets. I certainly have the impression that, as hard as I have tried to seize control of my own life, some “thing” always somehow manages to intervene and decisions seem to be taken by forces unknown. The more I try to resist, the greater things seem to slip out of my control almost as though I am being guided somewhere I don’t want to know. It was precisely my resistance that lead me into my dark depression and it was only in accepting that “life” was conspiring to give me exactly what I needed, when I needed it, that I was able to crawl out from the darkness. But it’s not some malevolent God or predestiny leading me along, but simply my own higher self, creating coincidences, opportunities of chance, circumstances, conditions and events that I may, with my own rational free will accept or reject, act upon, with or against. The book has not been written so much as is in the writing. The pen of Allah’s creation is still busy and we are all participants of that creation with our own individual pens.
We are trapped by our ego, snared by logic and bind our selves to three dimensional materialist conceptions of reality, locking our selves into our physical bodies with their demands for instant gratification and rational experience, refusing all things that don’t make sense or go bump in the night. I have since learned that it is not this “me” who creates my paintings, but the paintings that are making “me” in ways I can only trust to accept. The muses of old are not mere caryatids holding up mythological histories, but very real spirit beings within our imaginations guiding those who care to see, listen, feel and create as they take us across the river of prejudice into worlds of infinite potential. My paintings are windows and portals through which I have been invited to take leaps of faith, hurling myself into unknown worlds and hidden dimensions, surrendering to a much bigger picture.
The thin line of the razorblade that I found myself walking upon, cut right through my consciousness and opened my eyes to other ways of seeing and multiple ways of being. Every slash, gash, splash, drip, dribble, smear, line, bleed and pool were already there before I painted them, calling out to me as they manifested themselves. This is what Alfred Jarry must have meant with his notion of Pataphysics, a system of absurd non-sense in which the world of objects has a spirit and an intelligence over our own, in which the words you are reading called upon the lead in my pencil to guide me into writing them.
I resisted and struggled, refused and protested, wrestling against my will in a conflict between what I thought I knew and understood to be real, and where my paintings took me. I refused to accept the pervasive animistic powers of destiny, much less that destiny was being laid out before me upon stretch of canvas, but these things had minds of their own and I was under their control. I try to use my words, my education, understanding and my will in the game of chess called creation but I always seem to lose out of respect. Signs, sigils, symbols, archetypes, ancient totems and mystical elements emerged out from the chaos and a talisman manifested itself, a silent sacred witness to my struggle of becoming. The chaos magician does not burn the sigil in order to embed it within his or her unconscious so much as the unconscious burns the sigil in order to get the attention of the magician and make conscious that which already exists.
I paint, not because I want, but because my will demands it out of sacred emergency rather than need. It is certainly not an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair providing relaxation for the tired businessman, for it is no less than a baptism by fire. I paint in the same way that the shaman throws bones or the seer casts molten lead into the waters of destiny, losing control to find my self.
Out from the darkness of my depression, from the paralysis of thinking too much about the loss of a friend and a system’s betrayal, I discovered a fire that burned holes into my skull that I could learn to see differently. Painting unfolded and revealed itself to me and through the narrow chinks of my cavern I saw Picabia’s “Double World” of infinity. I may yet return to the material worlds of sculpture, but they will be different for I have learned to see differently.