Up Lafayette Street 1999-2016
A brief description of this gallery is coming soon.
For 14 years in New York City and beyond, Benjamin lived with me and was my baby, my companion, my partner. He was a magical creature that touched something deep inside me and we were joined at the heart. This connection was one of the most precious in my life.
Benjamin only broke my heart once in his whole life….when he died. I guess that’s the worst kind, really, now that I think of it.
IT STARTED OUT AS A HEAD to cast in metal and place over the grave. As I started to work on it, I realized that Benjamin needed more than this….I took the head and set it vertical and began to fill in the body. I’ve only about 5 or 6 sculptures in my life (and none since a failed attempt at doing Bruce Springstein bust for the cover of Rolling Stone 25 years ago) but this was clearly the most appropriate medium to work with.
I guess I was going through a rough period and felt like all was pointless- even making pictures. So I started rubbing my finger against this iPad screen. I felt that this was my version of electronic sand painting- something nonmaterialistic that could be freely distributed and erased. In any case, it kept my eye/hand coordination in practice until I felt better.
A bit lost, I was driving through Hudson one day, looking, trying to look again to see what I might paint. An afternoon that was stretching out to the point where it looked like I would return home depressed about not doing a thing. I drove past a point I had painted many times before through a wire mesh fence. I looked at that the landscape through that fence again but this time I looked at the fence at the same time..Hmmmm. I thought, that duality of foreground and distance that I always worked with in the new cubism with the edges if paint slabs…and then echoed through the string work. This was nothing new. I had seen this phenonmenon before..but something lit up inside me.. I saw the sunlight that reflected brilliantly off the snowy landscape touch the fence as well. The edges of fence had an emanation quality from the scene behind. I suddenly had a ”what if I..” thought…
While Cezanne and African Art inspired Picasso and Braques’ cubism, digital technology and compartmentalization in our time inspires its own new form in many contemporary artists’ works by way of the grid, the squaring off of abstract forms and geometric figuration. Unconsciously by osmosis, this form crept into my portrait and landscape painting. Consciously, however, this cubism was a solution to my long-term fascination with surface and depth. The act of applying these slabs of paint with the palette knife simultaneously buried and revealed the image and the eyes move back and forth from the object to the surface, creating a sense of space. If we stop our eyes from moving for a moment, everything is double except forthe single point of focus. Visual space is created not by the combination of 2 separate images from each eye in the brain, but the adjustment and movement of this point of focus as our 2 eyes wander across the room. Closer objects necessitate more visual convergence, farther ones less. Our eyes move so quickly that we don’t notice it. I think Cezanne’s late style and classical cubism also grew out of this kind of analytical seeing and slowing vision down to study the overlapping of forms. Feeling space in a flat painting is forcing our eyes and brain to orient themselves in 2 different places at the same time creating a movement that “penetrates” the picture.
In my early work, I wanted art to be something true and real. I thought about pictures as symbolic representations of psychological struggles I was going through. I could almost never come up with an “answer” to my issues but the picture codified this dilemma into art- which was the next best thing to coming up with an answer. Whenever possible, I had the picture itself be an active record of this experience. For example, as I was torn between the question of making love or making art, I devised a picture where I would paint myself seated while a friend stroked my thigh, keeping me aroused while I painted the picture. In this way, the artwork became a document of me questioning both sides of the issue. This idea took its extreme in the Woman sculpture, a piece I devised to lose my virginity to. I spent a year modeling this lifesize woman in clay that I would ravish and then cast in bronze with all the marks of that experience on her. In the end, however, I found a happier ending- but the sculpture served her purpose.
” I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in my field of consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both, even before the course of my scientific discoveries had begun to suggest the most naked possibility of such a miracle, I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements.” — Dr. Henry Jekyll
I wanted to portray the split in my personality that I always wrestled with and decided to try an experiment. I put a patch on my left eye and drew the right side of my body in the mirror, using my right eye and right hand, then did the reverse and drew with my left hand for the very first time. To my surprise, not only could I draw equally well but it brought out an elemental side of me that I never had portrayed before.
It actually felt like two different sides were coming out when I used each hand(and at 19, I was not yet aware of the brain hemisphere studies). The right side expressed the usual angry, pained impatient self I had always depicted while the left showed for the first time a quiet and reflective side -the perfect mate to the other half.
The next time I drew with the left hand was six years later. By then (through my studies of faces), I began to see clearly how the dif-ferent brain hemispheres are reflected in the body. drawing with separate hands bought a new di-mension to this split. for example, I found I was able to feel the weight and surface of objects clearly with my right hand while the left naturally felt the space around them: