The Spyglass: My art—and especially my paintings from the late 80s—are Rorschach tests for high functioning autism. They display an obsessive-compulsive fascination with details where parts of things overwhelm the whole (i.e., composition). Similarly, autistics exhibit a child-like attraction to reflective surfaces and bright, saturated colors. These attributes, in themselves, do not explain much. Autism neither makes me superior nor deficient in any way, only differently attuned.
Apparatus of Weaning (oil) 1989
Poetic Dismemberment (pencil on paper) 1989. I drew very little throughout art school, although the pencil drawings presented here are three of four that I created consecutively while hanging out at the coffeehouse.The graphite medium softens these compositions and makes them flow more naturally and spaciously than paintings made at the same time. (I wish I had understood this effect better.)
Ghostly Complexion on Bottled Drinks (pencil on paper) 1989
Where She Dwells Without Metaphors (pencil on paper) 1989
Arcimboldo Sambo (oil) 1989
Her Voodoo Bed Sheets Unleashed (oil) 1990. Preparing for my first show in Chicago.
A Distillation of Bodily Humors (oil) 1990
Gethsemane Tainted by the Contents of Her Purse (oil on wood panel) 1990
Popcorn Placenta (oil on wood panel) 1990. I was rather distracted during this time. Partially by my hormones and a need to hang out at coffeehouses, and partially by comics and drawing. I painted less and less throughout the 90s. However, two things occupied my thinking when I did paint: One, to violate the rules of realism by fracturing objects and creating visceral surfaces; and two, to explore color and abstract shapes and groupings. (I talk at the end of this page about the pitfalls of this approach.)
Halloween Pangs II (oil on wood panel) 1990
Wee Helmets (oil on wood panel) 1990
The Apologist: Apart from my cluttered sensibility, there is also my education to consider, and how ‘fine art culture’ was defined prior to post-modernism and lowbrow art. Abstract Expressionism profoundly influenced my development as an artist, even though I largely pursued figurative work. The difference (which worked to Abstract Expressionism’s advantage and less to mine) was that expressionists’ brushes pushed and melted paints into one another in a way that created acceptable boundaries: By the brain’s prerogative, these soft boundaries are also found in the landscape template, and they pervade and reinforce our thinking about space.
My hard-edged, concentrated detail did not convey quite the same effect, and so this contributes to a sense of everything getting pushed to the front of the picture. We repel from these views, as too much closeness leaves us no room to run from predators. Having made so much an apology of this, I find, with age and time, that I have retreated from this pitiless stance. Many of these works hold together better than I remember.
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