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Archive for July 12th, 2011

Testify

Another painting from this year’s West End Gallery show, opening  this Friday.  This piece is titled Testify and is 8″ by 26″ on paper.  Set in a white mat and wider black frame, its rich color gives it a real visual pop on the wall.  While it was in the studio, it was a painting that I found myself glancing at on a regular basis, my eye pulled to the deep oranges and yellows and the contrasting black trees that almost form a cage in the scene, which is the basis for the painting’s title.

I see the Red Tree here as the obvious central character, one that is making a testimony, an avowal, of some sort.   Some might see the word testify and take it for the evangelical meaning where one testifies or outwardly professes their faith.  Others might see testify in the legal sense where one is giving evidence.  For me, it is, in a sense, both.  I see the Red Tree as testifying to its own existence, as declaring that it has substance in this world, that is has a mind and voice of its own that must be heard.  It is existential truth.

The black bony trees serve as witnesses to this testimony.  You could see them as willing witnessses, reinforcing the Red Tree’s declaration of self.   In this view, their curves almost remind one of a celebrant in some sort of religious ecstasy, dancing and gesturing to the heavens.  But to me, with their united and encaging stance they seem to be trying to quiet the single voice of the Red Tree.  Their is a somewhat ominous quality to them in, a dark wall over which the Red Tree is trying to assert its truth.

Well, that’s how I read it at this point.  I have to restate that when I start a piece such Testify I am not going in with any idea that this is what I will be trying to convey.  I have no idea where the paint will take me and even now, as I sit writing this post, I am seeing things in it that evaded me before.  It’s as though I am almost looking at someone else’s work and trying to discern what it is saying to me.  I think that is when the work is most effective– when I don’t know what i want to say and just let the paint speak for itself.

I would testify to that.

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