At last weekend’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery I was asked if there was work that I do for myself alone and I replied that there is, that I sometimes do small pieces in moments of frustration or anger that I won’t share with the outside world. I feel that even a person living the most transparent of lives should not share every waking thought. And I probably share more than I should as it is.
This question led to a short description of the work from my earlier Exiles and Outlaws series, both of which I have written here a number of times in the past. The Outlaws series probably was closer as an answer to the question posed to me that day, consisting of images that examined the darker aspects that make up the prism of our personality. The central characters in these pieces were often armed with handguns and were definitely haunted by their past actions, existing in a state of fear.
At least, that is how I saw them. Some others saw them as predatory stalkers who might be lurking outside their own windows. It was an interpretation that I wasn’t initially expecting when I painted this work. But it might make sense, given the fear and sometimes paranoia that feeds our obsession with guns.
The piece above, Outlaw’s Vigil, is from that series and hangs in my studio now. It is a prime example of the differing perceptions of the work. Many have seen him as a potential danger, a symbol of imminent evil, while I see him as a person filled with absolute fear, always looking over his shoulder to see what is coming upon him from behind, from his past. He is forever frozen in this instance of terror. There is no looking ahead, no future.
Odd as it might seem, this small painting is inspirational to me. It serves as an object lesson, an example of how I do not want to exist in this world. I do not want to live in fear of the past or so fearful of others that I cling to a gun in my own home, peeking out my windows. This piece lets me know that I want to live a fearless life. It may ultimately be a fool’s mission but it makes this odd little painting priceless to me.