These last several years, I have been living in two art worlds. The first world has me occupied as a painter in my studio. The second sees me traveling the world proposing public art in public spaces.
The easel project is an on-going, international contemporary public art project that attempts to place 7 m x 10 m paintings resting on 23 m easels all over the globe. It is my belief that the easel acts as an internationally recognized symbol of art. The easel can be found in every country on earth, and is used by the world's artists regardless of their ethnicity, religious or cultural systems. The easel is not only revered as a symbol of high art, but, when constructed in this enormous scale, demonstrates a feeling of intrigue. My vision is to have numerous easels around the world in order to establish a cultural exchange of artists and ideas.
The first series of paintings resting on these big easels are appropriations of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflower Paintings. The sites will range from rural to urban with population ranging from several thousand to several million.
The idea of taking a very traditional symbol of art - the 19th century still life on an easel- and enlarging it to an enormous proportion, interests me greatly. The traditional painting on an easel is now a large-scale, contemporary work of art. By placing virtually the same sculpture in various countries, with distinct cultures, I am curious as to how these sculptures will be interpreted. Will the sculpture be perceived for its reference to the sunflower, Van Gogh or art in general?
My artistic life in the studio - as a painter - is equally as challenging. A lifelong fascination with early 20th century images and figures drives my creation - Chaplin to Hitler, Frankenstein to MacArthur, Mao Zedong to Fatty Arbuckle. I wonder what these people had in common - was it power? In fact, what do any of us have in common? Commonalities and differences are equal among us. Place two people together, any two people, and you have endless debate.
I find the optics of this period of history equally as fascinating. We see these people and images in black and white, devoid of warmth, passion and emotion, the stuff that only colour can bring.
We tend to look at these figures of history through unique eyes. These are not historical characters from colour photos, or even colour paintings from centuries past. These are people from a period, of just over 100 years, where images were brought to us in black and white photography and film. What happens to our sensibilities when we look at people from this 'black and white era’? It is with black and white that I create these paintings.
Black and white is the extreme version of who we are. Right and wrong, left and right, good and evil, truth and lie...It's all there for us to examine.