Rothkos In Space

February 04, 2015

I am really excited about the 2014 Betty Bowan Award winner Ralph Pugay, who’s work I got to see at the SAM gallery when I delivered art there last month. Here is a little expert about his work:

“Pugay paints vignettes that seem humorous at first but address topics of anxiety, confusion, and misguided certainty. He characterizes the scenes in his works as “absurd situational narratives, constructed through the melding of incongruous symbols and ideas, where the mundane and fantastic converge”, creating allegories to engage contemporary modes of consciousness and morality.”

Here is one of my favorite pieces from the show titled “Rothkos in Space”:












The humor in Pugay’s work just makes me happy. I am always thinking, probably overthinking, about my art. What am I painting, and what does it mean, is the piece a success, will it sell, how does it fit into my body of work…..on and on and on. I realize that in trying to create a consistent body of work I’ve taken a bit of the fun out of painting. I am not exploring as much, or exploring in the confines of a strict set of rules that will produce similar pieces.

But when I do sit down to paint, and allow myself to “play”  I paint lines that end up forming landscapes. Then I think about Rothko’s work. I saw his exhibit at the portland art museum a few years ago. It was interesting to see his early work, but his iconic “multiform” piece are where it’s at. Im was in awe of the space he could create on the canvas so it makes sense that his paintings would be floating in outer space in Pugay’s painting!

I am fascinated with outer space. I like thinking about it abstractly, which is easy since I have no formal training in physics or cosmology. It is incomprehensibly vast, and thinking about it somehow calms me. A few days ago I decided to explore space in my work. I don’t know how but I am excited to see what happens. I have also been thinking more about the things that occupy space that we can not see like gravity and molecules. But more specifically the things we can’t see that we don’t understand like dark matter and spirits. This takes me to Iceland.

I just recently re-applied to the SIM residency in Iceland. The one that I did in Feb. 2011. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since I left. Though I have tried to get my self excited to go to somewhere that I have never been, which is almost anywhere else in the world, I find myself trying to go back to Iceland. Whenever I hear the word “Iceland” I get so happy and excited, so why fight it, I need to go back there.

When I did my first residency, I became aware of what a magical place Iceland is. There is an unseen force at work on that island. Perhaps it could be explained geologically or maybe it really is because of the Hidden People, the spirits that live in the volcanic rocks. But there is something magical and unseen going on there and I need to go back to explore it.

(So I guess I need to come to some sort of conclusion that ties this all together so I can go paint)

I like art that makes me happy, and Iceland makes me happy.  And it all has to do with creating space and things in space.

| More: blog