Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I get my best ideas when I travel. Maybe it's because I don't work as much or maybe it's just that I have more time to read and think. I scribble in my notebook, sketch a little, and take lots of photographs but I'm not usually looking for inspiration.I've been thinking a lot about the disparate themes of sexuality, identity, the insidious pervasiveness of advertising and entertainment media, religion and ritual and how I've resorted to different styles of painting and even photography to explore them, often, over the past decade. More and more, I've felt confined by painting alone, just as I have by the conventions of exhibiting such work in commercial and institutional spaces. I've been exploring ways to expand my work so that its underlying concepts can be expressed in forms that obscure its purpose as 'art': making the experience of it more accessible but also more unsettling and even subversive. To a curious extent, this connects to my enduring enthusiasm for graphic novels, Japanese anime, graffiti, fashion and pornography (not necessarily in that order).One young writer, profiling my new work, called it Shock Pop, a phrase I think he glommed from a critique of the Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. I can see how, in obvious ways, it applies to my paintings, especially those in which there are unavoidable encounters with violence and graphic sex, but now I am exploring how to take it even further, to tap-dance between the slippery wet patches where the chemical-smelling perspiration of art commingles with the sticky fluids of sex, spiritual yearning and consumer culture.With all this swilling around in my head, it was little wonder that, almost without effort or thought, some initial studies, in acrylic on paper, for an entirely new body of work – combining painting, installation, photography and video – began spilling out onto the floor of my studio. Along with them came words, a title, and an invitation from a couple of well-known Los Angeles pornstars of my acquaintance to come spend a week with them by the beach. An Australian gallerist has already expressed enthusiasm for the still-evolving ideas and has committed her space for February 14th – Valentine's Day – next year to launch a month-long 'event' in Melbourne. I also expect to lock in a date in Tokyo very soon.