Existential Dinner Party Revisited: Distress, Diversions and Comfort Food
My “elevator speech.” for this series has been lacking, I recently realized. People see the food, they see the ubiquitous devil and angel, the distressed individual, and they ask, “What does it mean?” I’m not interested in applying secret meanings postmortem, but I have thought more about how this idea was hatched and what it was about it that I found compelling.
I, as the artist, try to avoid decoding exactly the associations my brain pieces together. I don’t want to hinder creativity, inhibit visual expression, and decrease my production by having to craft everything I do into a finely honed allegory. I want unconscious associations to live, grow and evolve into surprisingly complex and rich juxtapositions that “synergize” into deeper truths. In other words I don’t sweat it. If it amuses me, I paint it.
So of course, it really isn’t important for me for the viewer to be able to cast his eyes on my piece and immediately decider its “message”. I try to provide a sideways glance at reality, to unveil the secret power of symbolic meaning and to help myself and others to stop and think about why we do what we do and why we feel the way we feel. I’m not telling stories, and I’m not trying to just make pretty pictures.
People need hints from time to time and when their interest is piqued, they ask questions. I welcome that, but I don’t always have a good answer ready. The risk is always in making the mystical complexities of a slowly developed, living, breathing painting into a simple verbal decoding. People will assume there is nothing more to discover and move on.
I have long stood back and marveled at we humans’ need to find a cultural excuse to party en masse on almost a monthly basis. We are living from diversion to diversion, ignoring the painful, scary randomness of reality. These painting are simply an illustration of how we numb ourselves to existential angst with arbitrary celebrations, comfort foods, drugs and drinks.