I approach each day with an anything can happen mentality. Usually, I have a rough idea or a stance or an attitude that I want my painting to take, or a position that I want my work to have. In recent years, I would get five or six canvases stretched and primed by helpers in advance. Not having to do that myself seemed like a good idea – things go faster that way and while I wanted to slow down my application of paint, I wanted to keep producing paintings.
In the Spring of 2020, my main studio helper left New York. When the pandemic hit hardest, I asked the others to stay home. I began doing the preparation myself, one at a time. I felt real pressure to make something beautiful in the face of the criminally unnecessary deaths and degradation of many. Doing the preparation was settling, and it was a way of connecting to the future painting.
As support for Black Lives Matter grew and became increasingly diverse in 2020-2021, peaceful demonstrations were met with hostility and overt violence. Police killings of Black people continued unchecked, and I became even more alienated from American culture, particularly the legal system.
I began going back into small unfinished paintings and drawings from various periods of my life that I had abandoned. My sense that life was not infinite, and that what I had not finished might never get finished unless I finished it right away, took over. My works from that period had behind them the sense of urgency that I felt. Because they had been begun at different periods, I saw them as bridges between past and present, between the past and a radically uncertain future.
I have continued working on paintings one at a time, often printing the basic structure of earlier works onto primed linen, then working back into that printed armature directly, introducing conflicting scenarios. I do have a notion of what I want my current work to be, how I want it to present itself. I want to make a painting that is non-finite, ambiguous but at the same time rather serious and non-ironic, a painting one might not notice as a painting. One might walk by it as one does a wall or an unremarkable tree, a method of turning failure into a compelling act.
New York 2022