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Slowly, Stupidly

I make paintings that focus on the periphery and paraphernalia of daily life. Broadly speaking, my paintings draw from my surroundings, an individual quotidian. This is of course my situation, but I hope that the work can exist - at least in part - outside of a particular identity, open to the associative power of the viewer. That said, I’ve recently been playing more liberally with these boundaries - introducing more evidence of intervention, construction, and play within and across the work - in the hopes of generating new visual connections and associations, and building narrative potentials beyond documentary notation.

Paramount for me is a process of notation that defers associations of value to the studio. At the start of a painting, the act of noticing is the most important, and there is always something to be noted. This is where most of my paintings begin: I see, or I hear, or I think, and make note of exactly what is noteworthy.

There’s a great quote from Georges Perec’s Species of Spaces:

Observe the street, from time to time, with some concern for system perhaps.

Apply yourself. Take your time.

Note down the place [...]

Note down what you see. Anything worthy of note going on. Do you see what’s worthy of note? Is there anything that strikes you?

Nothing strikes you. You don’t know how to see.

You must set about it more slowly, almost stupidly. Force yourself to write down what is of no interest, what is most obvious, most common, most colourless.

I take setting about things slowly and stupidly very seriously.

What comes from this is a lot of junk, and an occasional goodie.

There is something interesting that happens during the production of a painting that I think is an important addition to this process of notation.

First, I think it has to do with the act of painting being very slow (or at least relatively slow). Where simply noticing is often quite immediate, the studio offers the possibility to revisit these moments and protract them. Within each of the observations that I bring into the studio, there are a web of interconnected structural details that support it. Painting, in the way that I like to go about it, offers an opportunity to refocus the moment of notation, to reflect on it. The places that I choose to paint are places of reflection, offering an opportunity to sit and think - to stare at the wall and see what comes from it - but also to see that that wall might have some part of us inscribed in its surface.

Secondly, the making of a painting is an inherently imperfect activity. Painting is a process of translation that is so broken as to be beautiful. There is something magical that happens in the chain of activity between the eye and the paintbrush, and a lot of what’s going on is a negotiation of tolerances. People are machines for accident, so the building of a painting takes the form of a protracted series of notations and responses. Look, mix, mark, look, judge. Paintings are culminations of these micro decisions, and they bear evidence of this process within them, they are records of the accidents and acceptances of simple human activity, often just like the things that I choose to depict.

I think this is why I find myself compelled to make paintings, and to paint the things that I do. I look to notice the things that carry these same qualities; I try to make sense of painting by recording and constructing things that are ostensibly like paintings: the places that collect and record the simple evidence of our situation within them - the humours and sadnesses of our experience - and in doing so I hope that I might make my own impact within them.

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