I have a lot of things to remember. That is why I started making these monuments.
I didn't know that they were monuments when I was started, but, like most artists, I don't immediately know what the subject of the work is when I am making it. As I continued to make them, it was clear that they are markers, like a sign on the road. They are indicators, placeholders, something that I recalled and needed to make manifest in a form that would serve as a container for that recollection.
Spaces have a residue. I work to give that residue a form. And an expression.
This rendering of form is not the same as recreating a room or building an environment. It is more about sensation than anything else. Sensation is a something that painting is dynamically suited to convey. (Bridget Riley talks about this here.) I am using touch, timing, color interval, placement and composition to create the sensation of the place, but not the place itself. I am creating an interior sense of a body in a space without a theatrical recreation of an environment. In this way, the work contests the sense of spectacle in art and instead posits recollection as the portal into the work.
My work has a direct relationship to lost spaces and lost people. Rooms are filled with images of people who used to inhabit them. They are sites of memory. My impulse is to make an image for a specific space I wanted to remember, or a place that reoccured to me visually as well as emotionally. These spaces need a memorial.
I don't mean solely domestic space and I don't mean the interior as in psychological, although I think both of those spaces figure into the work. (I came of age as a painter when Gaston Bachelard's ideas where going though school like a virus.)
I cut a section of a memory into a shape and mark it with an avatar, a witness. I want to bring that space into your space, and mark it with light, because it is NOT your space. I paint them on the back because I want to frame it in the light of memory, the halo of experience, the way you recall something while you are looking at something else. It glows with recollection. The corner, the edge, the meeting point, these can be the indicator of an entire environment. The shift of surface is sometimes a subtle transition and sometimes blunt flex of thought. It can be a marker of how a room changes, or how the body moves from one space to another.
To work in egg tempera is to embrace a different idea of time. In a fundamental way, painting contains time. The surface of a painting records everything. And for the painter, you know what was there and you know what had to be destroyed in order to make the painting look the way it does. For the painter, all of those paintings inform the last painting.
The material also contains a sense of devotion. Applied in strokes, each one drying immediately, and layering color in the most direct way, egg tempera allows me to caress the faces of the witnesses in the paintings over and over again. As Sassetta painted the Virgin, he touched her face over and over again. The act of rendering is an act of devotion.