Years ago, I had this idea that I wanted to make a painting about excess. I am not a big Rolling Stones fan, but one song, Shattered, came up when I was listening to iTunes. That ending part where Jagger sings, "Pile it up/Pile it high on the platter!" stuck in my head. It was like some sort of vile command at an obscene banquet.
This painting was on my studio wall for years. I thought it was finished. It was weird because it didn't feel like my work, even though I had painted it. I had a connection to it since I had made it, but I had a tremendous amount of distance from it. I couldn't figure out what it did for me or why I couldn't claim it as my own. But it stayed on the wall. For years.
Every now and again, I would paint on this picture. I'd change some things, try some things. At these times, the painting wasn't really a painting at all. It was more of a site. I mean that in real terms. It was an actual location I could go to where I could try things out and let things happen. I would repaint the entire picture sometimes and then wipe all of the paint off to return it to the way it was. At these times I felt like I was rehearsing something. Like I was trying out new material before I had to present it or something. Those changes built up over the years.
I was in my studio about a week ago and I looked at the picture. The head on the far left started to look familiar to me. I know that sounds stupid since, after all, I had painted it, but it seemed like I had seen the painting somewhere else. The more I looked at it, the stronger this feeling became. I realized that I had painted another version of that head for a painting called the notice. It wasn't an intentional action, but I saw that I was able to make one painting because I had made the other. I had been painting on the notice for years. I was able to resolve it, finally, once I painted the head in the other painting. Like I said, it wasn't an intentional thing. It was only after looking at the picture for a long time that I could see what it had been giving me.
Almost every head in this picture lives in another painting at this point. It's been a series of migrations. They came in one picture and moved into another one. It makes sense to me that I couldn't finish banquet because it was never meant to be a painting - it was meant to be a site of possibility that led to other paintings.
I repainted the picture last week. Everyone who had to leave, who could leave, has gone. There is only one that remains in light, balanced aggressively in the in-between space. It's trapped in a moment where it is a portrait and an object.