During my formative years in Europe the concept of interdependence of art and society was intertwined into the fabric of culture and history of the region. Art was often considered a means of progressive activism, an enabler affecting the society and individuals toward a positive change. That form of modernist idealism was appealing to me early on, even though I was more inclined to explore and examine the human self within the social and psychological context, and its implications. My sense of responsibility as an artist and an active participant in the times was heightened by an awareness of perpetual conflict between elements of human psyche, instincts of self-preservation and procreation, civilization and culture, all often colliding with each other toward self-destruction and chaos.
Acts of transgressions transform all with irreversible consequences. The results of such conflicts are often tragic and senseless to the point of absurd. When expressed and confronted in art though, they may seem to take form of real and tangible elements of our condition.
For me, art has the potential to transcend its own artificiality. Sometimes it carries the record of the physical process, taking form of a dialogue with the medium, often resembling the violence and conflict of its subject matter. The act of applying paint with brush, knife, rag or hands is a physical activity with its inherent ambiguities and visceral connotations.
At times, acts of transgression may provoke repulsion or outrage, resulting in potentially cathartic bursts of self-imposed penance. Perhaps in the process they may reveal somewhat pathetic truth that conflict is an inherent component of the human condition with its physiological banality and horror of flesh and blood, with its spiritual and mental alienation, as the unwavering constant of our existence.
Art might provide some redemptive mechanisms, with a potential for enduring significance. This is the pathos of creation and life, pathos of decay and death, pathos of suffering and terror, pathos of violation and interrogation, pathos of a point-blank execution. It verges on what Auerbach might call “strange sense of humor” with its panache for self-destruction and annihilation.
In the Europa Series, which started in early 1990s, some of the paintings like “Burial Rites – Europa Series” or “Uncovering”, are perceived sometimes as joyful “visceral abstractions”, despite their gruesome subject matter. Some will attribute that to a perception of esthetic pleasure, as if the use of oranges and reds with animated brush strokes and rich multi-layered textures sufficiently provide some justification to subdue a reaction of rage and repulsion. The rationale is to invert its meaning and repress the sense of a threat it seems to pose on us.
A painting resolved with such duplicity may then present an ambiguous perspective on violence as an organized, aesthetically satisfactory abstraction, when transgressions and conflict are repressed by the conscience seeking refuge in socially acceptable interpretations.