My American Dream (Marlborough)
Eyesight to the Blind, 2003 Oil on linen 22 × 18 inches
Eyesight to the Blind, 2003
Oil on linen 22 × 18 inches

One of my favorite artists, as I’ve written about many times before, is El Greco, who comes from the Byzantine tradition of Icon painting, where artists and worshipers felt they were truly channeling the entities in which they were painting and praying towards, and you can feel the spiritual magic when you look at an El Greco. Instead of being exiled for not making their representational imagery to look "real," like many of the Old Masters, El Greco was actually championed by the religious sect that commissioned many of his paintings as he was able to promote the passion of the subject matter that was really felt by him as he painted, which truly channeled an amazing energy to all works that he created. One of my favorite paintings by him is Christ Healing the Blind at the Met, where He is touching a man and giving him site, and in response, or because of his great devotion. I always think the secret of the painting is that subliminally, there is a third eye above the brow of this figure, one that I would think was unintentional, unconsciously painted by El Greco but give the verve and unconscious content to the work that people could pick up on, even if they don’t see it (and seldom do, as I’ve pointed this out to many students on my many tours there with them). But there is a lot of unconscious action that occurs in the drapes and folds of El Greco, where the negative and positive space are Tetris-like shapes that interlock together, forming all kinds of forms and figures that were projected into the space of the picture plane by his fervent passion. It’s fun and edifying to paint after him and paint your own unconscious rifts—Picasso said if you paint after the old masters how its not like the old masters is what is "you" about it, and in the expressionistic zeal of this work I go into my own flights of fancy that sustain me as I had continued to look at this work, as it lived with us always on our wall for over a decade, giving us hope. Being an artist is about seeing, and seeing anew, and religious or not, one has to believe in some inner spirit in order to have the agency of vision that things exist but perhaps not in the manner we understand they exist, and there is a great beyond worth exploring in art and ideas, and this work is a constant reminder of that important struggle, and the urgency to continue making work—and to teach.