I paint from my experience of the world. That is to say, I paint from the random multi-vehicle collisions of experience, memory, association, and imagination which are our lives. Painting itself doesn’t do much to clarify anything, but it lets me have fun with the wreckage.
I have always been fascinated by iconic images, symbols, Tarot and Loteria cards, cave paintings, illustrations from children’s encyclopedias, rebuses and pictographs, pictorial elements that ‘read’ at a glance, punch above their weight yet remain ambiguous. They are my shorthand.
What does a pictograph of a knife ‘mean’? It might mean one thing to a carver, something else to a cook, something very different to a victim of violence. What is a ladder? What’s with the dog? Images like this insist that they ‘mean’ something , and they do – but not the same thing to all of us and not always at the same time.
In my experience there is no such thing as ‘evolution’ or ‘progression’. I’ve been circling the same preoccupations all my working life. Approaching these motifs with different styles or media is nothing more than tackling a problem with different tool sets, each one of which reveals the ‘problem’ in a new or different way. I am not interested in pictorial or formal strategies as ends in themselves – I am interested in what I can do with them. Style is a tool.
For me a picture works when it becomes more than the sum of its parts, when it suddenly becomes a mystery to me. That’s what I work for. I work to make pictures that are compelling but unresolvable. That’s the best reflection of life I can make. I’m not telling a story. I’m establishing a perimeter.
‘You see, I look at my paintings, speculate about them. They baffle me, too. That’s all I’m painting for.” – Philip Guston