Buddy (Robot Gorilla), 2004 Oil on Linen 32 × 26 inches
Buddy (Robot Gorilla), 2004
Oil on Linen 32 × 26 inches

The source image of this was from a special effects book, which had this image, from the making of the 1997 movie Buddy, with creature effects by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. When I essentialize ideas towards Post-Modernity, a major aspect seems to me to be “agency being reified into capital”, (I think of this like the human spirit, soul, ideas of independence being folded into, like flour into pizza dough, the “Capitalist Machine”).  Who are we as individuals may be influenced by ideology, in this case the ideology of phallocentric patriarchy, and so on. I remember asking my Semiotics teacher, in learning about language being like the software operating the hardware of our minds and consciousness, “if it all adds up to nothing, what is the point?” in a moment of nihilistic despair.  He replied “well, sometimes that is interesting to talk about”, which made sense to me.  Many of my Semiotics friends became Buddhist, and out of all the religions, I have had my hands hover over the flame of Tibetan Buddhism the most.  In that ancient religion, it realizes that everything exists, but doesn’t exist in the same manner we think it might (or have the language for), and I believe this gives a spiritual component to ideas of ideology and language forming thought—it doesn’t take what is beyond that away, and if we can achieve a critical distance to objectify oneself as a being within the world, we can think look at it and us in a different way (and hopefully in the realization of this come together recognizing we are all part of a larger system in a world that we need to take care of in order to survive).  Sometimes the epiphany of this achieves a momentary sublime, which I hope to someday affect with my work.

In any event, for me the gorilla is an iconic avatar for humanity in general, here controlled by the machine (of Capital?), but underneath this layer, this is a subjective human being, who hopefully has elements and a consciousness that be transcendent of subjugation.

As much as I consciously meditating upon these thoughts when painting the picture, being a son of a psychoanalyst and a painterly painter who loves modernity, I want to allow for my unconscious to also drive the picture, and hope that when, especially in micromanaging, abstract elements also come into the picture plane.  Here in the brain area, the small machinations of the mask became minute, and I hope that my unconscious is able here and in other parts of this (and all) my work, break into unconscious iconic abstraction, where my inner thoughts and memory take form in volumetric plastic space—when I look into these areas I see other worlds and planes.   When Cezanne painted, I think he was using the landscape he was perceiving to help map his inner thoughts with form and color, I hope I can do this here and also when looking at other images, reinterpreting through both my conscious and unconscious driving my hand and brush, to create optical surrealities within realities that are more reflections of the inner mind, like dreams, come to life, that transcend language.



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Willem DeKooning,  Door To the River, 1960, Whitney Collection.

I do believe that paintings can be “windows onto other worlds”—if oil paint was created and first used to depict things more concrete and actualized in the plastic space of the picture plane, couldn’t it also do this for thoughts, feelings, the unconscious?  Deep in the meditation of painting, when the hand is consciously creating marks that render “what you want”, it also is recording the “unconscious hand”, triggered by your thoughts, provoked by the subconscious, it simultaneously is translating your inner thoughts and iconic subconscious gestures.  I think this is what gives life to painterly paintings and modernism in general, and if you can suture this gesture with a post-modern relationship to your imagery that relates to the world outside of the picture plane, than hopefully you can have something new (or old, if you consider most of the great paintings of the past incorporate meaningful allegorical scenes along with transcendent painterly moves to create images that give you much to think about and feel while you are contemplating their subject matter and experiencing their aura).