I believe in an art where aesthetic experience has a spiritual value. Art can open the door of perception to show the world in new ways, or a new world altogether. In practicing my art I employ a series of disciplined strategies, some formal and some invented. I aspire to create an environment where success is not an accident and accidents are embraced. With painting, as opposed to film, I am very much involved with color as an abstraction and paint being paint (non-illusionary). I am committed to compositions that allow what I call a populist and democratic approach to color through geometry, in which no color gets more time and space than another. I believe geometry and math are in our neural DNA and our subconscious.
I also believe great art comes from a relentlessness of attitude and execution, such as the repetitious compositions by Philip Glass in the 1970s, or the work of Willem Dekooning, who once said, "Doing it once is easy – doing it over and over is when genius happens." In 1969 I had the privilege of seeing Michelangelo's DAVID and SLAVES in Florence, Italy, which are all carved marble sculptures. At the time I felt I could never accomplish Michelangelo's genius but I remain committed to die trying.
East Hampton was home to a growing congregation of free-thinkers, including others affected by the blacklist. During my childhood my parents' world was peppered with a colorful mix of political activists, artists, writers, actors, filmmakers and painters. Marilyn Monroe, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning were all part of the mix, and de Kooning later became a mentor.
I was a painting major / film minor at the Cooper Union art school in New York City and graduated in 1976. I immediately established myself in the burgeoning loft life of lower Manhattan. At that time, New York City was wracked by financial crisis. Artists and other young people were happy to find new homes within the dilapidated industrial loft buildings. There was a new bohemian subculture forming. Artists revitalized downtown New York and briefly transformed it into the art capital of the world.
The downtown energy was electric. Painters, sculptors, musicians, theatermakers, photographers, and videographers were shoving aside the old "isms" of the art world and soaring into a new realm of artistic possibility. The Bohemian mantra was, "Break taboos – invent a new language, hopefully at the same time…" And with that freedom came an ability to do what you wanted. Figuration, abstraction, performance, earthworks, installations, conceptual art – all genres and cross-genres could and would be part of the new creative lexicon.
For the past thirty years I have focused more on painting while being a prop-master on television commercials to support my career as an artist. My experiences in commercial film have been inspirational in keeping my artwork dynamic, immediate and confrontational. I have recently stopped working on commercial film work and have started making experimental video works again in addition to painting.
""The highest purpose of art is to inspire." – Bob Dylan
"A painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions." – Pablo Picasso
"If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." – Edward Hopper
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." – Edgar Degas
"What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough." – Eugene Delacroix
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." – Paul Cezanne
*To see far is one thing, going there is another." – Constantin Brancusi
"Create like a god, command like a king and work like a slave." – Constantin Brancusi
"You must have a political disposition built into your aesthetic." – Al Held
"Content in a Glimpse." – Willem de Kooning
"Being avant garde means breaking taboos and inventing a new language." – Hollis Frampton
"Your paintings should affect the architecture of the room." – Jo Baer
"Making the art is easy. Showing it is hard." – Mary Heilmann
"After seeing Sir Stanley Kubrick's '2001 Space Odyessy' I knew my art had to abandon gravitational mentality and go for a weightless standard with no top or bottom." – Rick Liss, 1969