I have taught comics for many years, and think the power of the iconic cartoon is not only that it’s simplified so we can relate to it (like Scott McCloud states in the great “Understanding Comics”), but also this is the language of our inner mind and how we perceive ourselves and others in memories, thoughts, and dreams.
I think when we dream we dream in iconic, simplified, ghost–like forms we later identify as “Grandpa,” and the like…
I hope by hanging the Iconscapes next to the figurative works, they bring out what is abstract in the representational (in this case, the God—like faces in the sky over Fairmount sending their beams of light to James Dean’s Hometown, and what was happening in the snowy earth), and what is representational in the abstract. I have always felt that Marx and Duchamp took us on a necessary, politically speaking, track away from Cézanne, Picasso and Freud, but now, although things are far from perfect, there is room once again to explore notions of the unconscious. Since I was in college I have wanted to be able to channel my subconscious and make it "real". If oil paint was used at the beginning to make things appear more "real" in the plastic space of the picture plane, couldn’t oil paint also do this with our unconscious thoughts, dreams and feelings?
When Pollock was creating his drip works, he was dripping automatic psycho-sexual imagery and faces, but then layering over and over in his lattice work so the initial imagery would be obscured. I want to bring up that subconscious and have your mind vacillate like it does a Pollock when, by our instinctive nature, we see to find the faces in the painting. After painting longer and harder, and mostly painting representational works, obsessing with minutia with a tiny brush, I hope that I am now able to render the unconscious with better acuity and skill, bringing out dream worlds and surrealities from the inside of my mind into another dimension.
As a son of a psychoanalyst, I have a penchant for the unconscious, and have tried, since college, to realize iconic images from my subconscious into a more Renaissance plastic space than Gorky, without "Illustrating" dream worlds like Dali. At my thesis show at Brown I hung these "iconscapes" next to figurative works, and again most prominently at my NYC debut show at Jay Gorney in 1997, and again at Derek Eller in 2003-04 for my Hamlet 1999 exhibition. With a show in 2011 (with the good people!) at Knoedler of my 90’s Iconscapes, I was inspired once again to pick up my brush and try again to tap my inner mind to bring it into an outer world.
In micromanaged moments of the old masters, I have found that their imagery breaks apart into abstraction, and strange, subconscious realized eyes and anatomy appear in the negative space. With the modernists, the subject matter is sometimes not as important as what they projected into the subject matter. There are "Cézanne holes" in the middle his works where his head must have been located when he was painting where you can perceive his eyes and teeth and beard, same for Van Gogh who in his cypress tress lurk his unconsciously realized facial features. Picasso (consciously?) appears in his negative spaces, and Matisse form his Santa-like visage appears in figurative elements of his paintings. I want to strip away the map projected on the representational and get to the core.