From having been raised Catholic and spending every Sunday morning in church, I have always been fascinated by stained glass windows. They were much more interesting than what was happening at the alter or behind the podium. Over the past few years I have revisited my fascination with church windows and used them as the formal and conceptual impetus for my paintings. These backlit pictures often tell romantic and mythical stories and literally separate the congregation from the reality beyond. This physical interface between myth and reality (or sentimentality and pragmatism) enthralls me.
Even if I am fully aware of the conflicts inherent in the irrational arguments for things like God, Country, or finding a “soul mate,” I feel like any good faith investigation into these beliefs must acknowledge that the vast majority of humanity really does believe, or at least wants to believe, in romance and myths. They, like me, are happier looking at the window rather than opening it. We see a poetic and necessary truth in the histories and traditions that created our present. Moreover, the canon of art history is dominated by romantic figures and stories. Most people revere these heroes, yet many others, including some artists, might call these narratives and figures bullshit.
This past summer I visited Italy to finally see the churches and paintings that had made up the bulk of my early art history studies. While walking through the Vatican I noticed that many of the world’s most famous frescos had been vandalized. Works by Raphael had been heavily restored to repair zig-zag scratches that read something like “Vlad 1906” or “Jimmy, USA.” This blew me away, and I went back to my studio intent on capturing what I had seen.
My own paintings appear as scratched and carved abstract frescos revealing a smooth vibrant window-like layer. They reference the old masters, frescos, gothic stained glass text and heroic abstract paintings. I hope to describe the struggle and conflicts of incorporating rational reality with our sentimental myths that make up our cultural traditions. I paint, in part, about how hard, and perhaps wrong, it is to believe in any of the big important things like love, faith and culture but mostly I describe how badly I want to believe.
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