“Landscape is an exhausted medium, no longer viable as a mode of artistic expression. Like life, landscape is boring; we must not say so.”
W.J.T. Mitchell
My work is located at the nexus of art and geography, a historical intersection in western art history that began in the 16th century with the advent of landscape painting and cartography. As a field, landscape painting holds a diminished place in contemporary art. The consensus being that it reached its zenith of influence in the western world between the 17th and 19th centuries and then declined with the onset of modernism. My current work is in dialog with not only contemporary art practices but also social and political geography and rejects the notion that landscape painting cannot provide a critical narrative and social mirror. Place and identity are intimately bound in human experience, and provide a union fecund in positive and negative potentialities such as community, a sense of place and belonging, geographic and civic pride, along with geographic chauvinism and potentially violent nationalism and regionalism.
My paintings focus on the non-heroic, non-sublime and non-pastoral quotidian landscapes in which we spend our everyday lives, as these are the places where we truly form our identities and establish memories. Using a ‘loud,’ perhaps even camp colour palette that is purposefully and unapologetically unrestrained, coupled with camouflage and disruptive patterns, my current paintings tend to eschew notions of correct colour composition and harmonious relations that are taught in traditional design and colour theory. The camp aesthetic in a sense ‘queers’ the landscape and the historically masculine landscape painting tradition. The loud colours coupled with camouflage and disruptive pattern motifs function simultaneously as anti-camouflage and seductive camouflage, allowing the paintings to call attention to themselves and grab the viewer’s gaze against any possible backdrop; particularly in relation to the historically ‘neutral’ frame of the white cube gallery.
Most recently, my work has begun focusing on what I describe as maligned geographies. These are places that have acquired negative cultural connotations either regionally, nationally or even internationally, but have in turn become symbols of empowerment for the people living within them. This line of inquiry evolved from my upbringing in the southern United States as well as time spent living in Southern California’s Inland Empire, two regions that have often found themselves maligned.