My American Dream: Mystery Train
Iconscape (Fire and Fury), 2017 oil on linen 50 × 40 in. | 127 × 101.6 cm
Iconscape (Fire and Fury), 2017
oil on linen 50 × 40 in. | 127 × 101.6 cm

Since I was in college, I have been creating figurative abstract paintings that I call Iconscapes. I feel, in some science fiction scenario, if we were to project our dreams onto screens, that they would appear as murky cartoons of our subconscious, our memories relying of glimpses of our imagination gleaming onto essentialized faces and forms that we then project identity and meaning. Scott McCloud, in his great (inspired by classes he took with the even greater Art Spiegelman) book Understanding Comics discusses the “power of the icon”: the ability for simplified faces, like the “smiley face”, to be relatable, due to its essentialized facets. I think the iconic face is also relatable due to images of our subconscious also being an iconic language of emotive, anthropomorphized and symbol-like forms. Pollock and the other abstract expressionists deeply explored the worlds of Jung, Freud, and psychoanalysis and a presymbolic order. I’m a son of a psychoanalyst, and have a penchant for dreams and the thoughts, ideas, and emotion that are buried in our instincts and our unconscious. When Pollock was creating his famous drip paintings, he was creating the psychosexual forms and faces revealed in his later black and white paintings, but layering over and over them to achieve an abstraction. I feel part of the power of those pictures is our unconscious mind is always looking for these forms (as human being animals instinctively enabling us to reproduce and to protect ourselves and loved ones) and as the brain seeks the forms the image undulates—pushes and pulls—creating a cosmic, sublime reaction, much like when we strive to look for the universe through the starry nights.

With these Iconscapes I want to realize those forms, in a more colorful, plastic space than, say, Gorky, without fully illustrating what I start to find, á la Dali. I am also impressed by my surroundings, and the iconscapes included in this exhibition were influenced in a sublime horrible way by the current news and politics happening on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and more in the background. This particular image was created during the notorious “fire and fury” threats by the current administration in the saber–rattling with North Korea, sending chills up my spine (and the world’s) about the current danger of our situation. Rather than create a figurative painting that would be analogous to my fears, I chose to create this, and the other iconscapes in the show–this iconscape in particular emulating, quite unconsciously, the souls that would hopefully rise to a heaven in the woebegone horrific nightmare of nuclear destruction.