Saturday, June 1, 2013

Trauma as Prima Materia

The point of origin of my work is autobiographical. From this core of personal experience, the embryo of the work is cross-fertilized with other philosophical and conceptual notions, such as those of Antonin Artaud and Georges Bataille. Although the work proceeds from this intimate and intense experience of self, it is eminently universal, tapping into the underground tributaries of the collective unconscious that unite mankind as a whole.

Several catalytic and cataclysmic events have brought forth significant works in my oeuvre. Namely, the birth and death of my first son, the murder and rape of my step-sister, childhood abuse, and the entropic trajectories and eventual dissolution of important relationships in my life. Embodied within these events are the seeds of beauty, a beauty closely aligned with suffering, a beauty at once terrifying and revelatory.

Here is the notion of trauma as prima materia.

This base matter, this chaos, this swirling darkness, this “blackness blacker than black,” is also the fecund earth from which the first shoots of paradise grow. Anguish, despair, loss, pathos, are Saturnine ore ready to be transmuted in the crucible of an art process that is a journey towards transcendence and a rebirth of the senses, but a bloody one, borne not of grace, but of passion, as the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross.

My work references, illumines, and draws upon a panoply of source material and thematic components: alchemy, biology, cosmology, physics, mysticism, et alia. Chief among these components, is biographical matter (matter, from the Latin mater, mother). This matter may be directly addressed in the work, with eviscerating and desolating force, or, may be subsumed, until only the faintest trace of a psychological imprint remains.

There is also the relevant intersection between my visual art work and current theories of physics, in particular: quantum theory, string theory, and M-theory. These cutting-edge scientific notions resonate with certain ancient religious belief systems and their view of multiple universes occupying the same space-time continuum. In this context, the current chemically-altered Photo-Painting work may be considered portals into the multiverse, brief glimpses into a previously unseen realm of being and existence. Photographic film is highly sensitive to electromagnetic waves, and when exposed to chemicals, heat, electricity, magnetism, and radiation; startling images are revealed. These images, conjured forth from the ether, are both phantasmal and familiar, each a secret door to a possible beyond.

Catharsis, in the Aristotelian psychological and emotional sense of the word, is an important aspect of my work. And, of equal import, is the notion that this lexicon of images: images of fecundity and putrefaction, of trial and rebirth, suffering and joy, and ultimately, of being; bring forth a catharsis in the viewer as well as in the work’s creator. This is the catharsis invoked by the tragedian in his “goat-song.” The dual role of the artist as a sacrificial offering and as a mouth-piece of the gods.

There is also a resonance with the mystical and psychological notions of Carl Jung. From Gnosticism, to archetypes, dream, mythology, and alchemy, there is a transposition and interpolation of conceptual membranes between Jung’s work and my own. One significant point of commonality is the manner in which the disciplines of science, mysticism, and religion (and all their related sub-types) are fused into a cohesive meta-theory, one which addresses the complex and multivalent facets of our existence. In this sense, my work may be considered an exploration of actualities, an investigation into the very nature of what we conceive of as reality itself.

A surging of space-time foam. Cellular cruelty. The theatre of the dream image made manifest.

The artist is a conduit for the myriad forces that are constantly struggling within us asking to be released.