Abstract Confessional

I was examining my art production and was looking for a term or phrase that would describe what I was doing exactly.  I knew that I was interested in narrative as well as materiality.  I had been concerned with formal considerations for so long that I feel “formalism” is a term that describes some of my artistic motivations.  But formalism only grazes what I am doing in my art.

My interest in narrative and wanting to confess aspects of my life that might resonate with the viewer kept coming back in my work over and over.   I took a chair that I had painted black, for example, and hacked it in several areas until it leaned into the ground in a compromised position.  I then took a dried, black paint pour, and positioned it, over, and around parts of the chair to create a fluid response to the hard edges of the chair itself.

But more than just the formal consideration of fluid vs. hard edge, I was interested in narratives that a chair conjures up.  Many artists have used the chair as a sign for some human narrative or condition and I wanted to use it as well, hoping to connect with the viewer through something recognizable.  But I also wanted, and still do, to bring in my own story to the narrative that my chair composition proposes.

As a result, I realized that I was taking part in or creating pieces that represent what I call the abstract confessional.  Part formalistic consideration that results in abstract compositions and part confessional narrative that uses signs that would be accessible to many viewers (or “readers” of the visual piece), the abstract confessional tells a story.  But the story takes place through forms that are and are not easily recognizable.  There is some work on the part of viewer/reader that is required so that he/she can then glean what the confession is about.

By confessing in a predominantly, though not wholly, abstract rather than strictly representational format, I’ve mimicked, in a sense, the mode of survival I’ve undergone in many life situations where events and experiences are partly clear and partly abstract.  By abstract here, I mean that events and experiences were not as easily understandable or readily processed.  Nevertheless, they were significant and even an abstract understanding of representational moments in life were important to document and somehow show in my art.


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