The most recent works are the “moiré paintings.” A moiré pattern is an interference effect created by the overlay of two or more offset patterns. The fusion of the patterns creates another pattern that is quite unlike and much more complex than any of the individual ones. You often see these moirés in overlapping window screens or woven fabrics. They are also a common unwanted residue of digital and print imagery, when the pixelation or banding mis-registers. Moirés seems to have some fascinating stubborn, underlying logic that when created by hand, and in color, become all the more unpredictable and exhilarating.
The moiré paintings are created with notched, comb-like trowels and multiple layers of sanded acrylic paint, revealing an image that is both graphic and utterly material. Despite the seamlessness of their almost glass-like surfaces, these paintings reveal a dense materiality, thus integrating the systemics of opticality with the unruly physicality of paint. They are not slick (though they often appear so in reproduction); they expose their making: a slight topography of paint, an un-taped side, a slip of the hand. This exposure emphasizes the materiality of their process and the humanity of both the artist and the viewer. While optical painters have sometimes eliminated such “imperfections” as visual distractions, these physical “slips” can rather augment the optical when used pointedly: for example, the blurred edge of an uneven sanding provides a more intense optical event.
This new work exists in a continuum with my longstanding interests in opticality and modularity. My earlier large freehand paintings, where I paint hundreds of modular shapes, are also improvisational in nature: I grow the painting, starting with a single hand painted module on the edge or middle of the canvas. I intend the shape, scale and direction of each and every mark, during the process of painting to ultimately determine the painting’s own geometric teleology, which often refers back to nature: its seeming chaos and corresponding mathematics. In these works, I mix hundreds of subtly shifting colors to create color gradients that refer to light or painterly bleeds.
How do you know a thing? Because you can quote something,
because you can “google” and read it about it, do you really know that thing? Just because we’ve seen Islamic tile designs, do we understand how they work? The philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell named two types of knowledge: knowledge by description (knowing the rules of mathematics or grammar, for example) and knowledge by acquaintance (knowing how to perform the rules via experience). We live in a culture that privileges description.
My gestures in the shape of six pointed asterisks or three pointed tripods derive from Islamic tile geometry. So why isn't the use of Islamic geometry in my work more obvious or iconic? Because Islamic geometry is in itself willfully anti-iconic, whether developed in antithesis to Christian icons, in adherence to the historical ban on images, or as mathematical perfection describing weightless, infinite space. I turned to them because of their ability to yield geometry through painterly and calligraphic mark making. I can lift from that tradition a kind of readymade handmade pixel. Those experiments were indeed the mathematical forerunners of current digital technology. I'm not interested in merely quoting or “describing” these forms, forever suspending them in their historical moment. I use them in the present tense for what they are and what they can become.
Before I begin a painting, there is always some physcial, geometric or perceptual problem that is just beyond my conceptual grasp: how to make my modules get smaller, how to make them converge to a center point, how to reconcile a seam between two curves. Only through embodied experience, do I come up with a “solution.” The space in my paintings refers to the undulating space of op art or computer modeling, but unlike these conventions they are not mapped mathematically, rather filtered through the scale of the painting in relation to my body and my gestures. My work dissects perception, in order to get a fictional hold on it, to try to lock it down. In earlier works, I likened the mapping of "spontaneous" pours of paint to the process of a scientist analyzing the flow of sediment on the bottom of a river or ocean. But now, I mimic the river as much as the scientist.