“Acts of visual thinking” is how I describe my work. Within those acts, staged for an encounter, are the expectations of one who will see into my work, on some level. There is an implicit agreement that comes with involving other people in my work. I don’t know their expectation, but they are willing to explore mine. If I am to succeed in communicating with others I will have to enter agreements about the process. At some level I will be searching for ways to persuade a certain path to my intentions and recognize how that process works. If I am successful, the truth of what I hope to say will become evident and persuasion unnecessary.
“Long Standing Agreements” is a painting that exemplifies the statement above. There is, in the act of painting, a parallel that speaks to my own process and one that is portrayed in the figure descending a stairway. The “act” of pursuit, paint to canvas, begins at the moment when ideas merge with feelings that find themselves committed to the event. I said to myself, “Portray the man as I remember. Respect the time and the place we encountered each other. Get it right. Carry the energy behind the image. Don’t settle.” These are some of the thoughts that crowded my hours devoted to painting. And, for this painting, the process stopped twenty years before it was finished. The umbrella was complete, some of the stairs, and only the outline of the figure in a vacant off-white space. Life got in the way. The painting was wrapped up and moved six times until finally, in Wisconsin, brushes were applied again. The man on the stairs came alive. That was my long awaited, personal act.
The intent never changed during those twenty years. I still wanted to see the painting and realize my intended purpose, with the moment of insight no longer “at large”, but back in the heart and mind of a vision I kept with me. Like the gentleman in the shade of his umbrella, folded up fan in his hand, leaving the National Palace Museum, full of artistic images, surrounded by his cultural heritage…the taxi driver waiting in the background. What he believes about images of the past seem ever present. And elusive. Maybe the umbrella is a protection against the unknown parts of believing. He might be asking, ‘What agreements did I make along the way that brought me to this place?’
Our lives are met out in a series of rituals that we either consciously, or subconsciously enact. Like ascending and descending a staircase, while guarding our hearts and keeping our heads. And always the question, ‘Is this what I believe?’