Magic Carpet Paintings 2018

“Magic Carpets” builds upon and integrates  the concepts, processes and themes that I have been developing in my work over the past 6 or 7 years.  I have been exploring the tension between representation and abstraction in painting; creating a semiotics of mark making and surface building related to the urban landscape, and developing a contemporary Sublime aesthetic that considers the impact of current environmental issues such as extreme weather and consumer culture waste on our collective imagination.

 

The Magic Carpet provides a visual mechanism upon which the viewer situates themself in order to experience an aerial view perspective of the landscape below.  

 

The device of including a viewing platform from within the paintings parameters, creates a series of interesting compositional tensions which I am interested in exploring through this body of work.

 

The function of a flying carpet offers not only a temporary refuge from the dangers and catastrophes on earth,  but also an escape mechanism that invites the viewer into a liminal space by introducing the possibility of a mythical or fantastical vantage point from which to consider the unfolding of time and space on earth. 

 

I’m interested in the various ways that carpets have been used functionally through history and across various cultures. Carpets have been used by Nomadic cultures as a site of refuge, safety and contemplation within the diaspora; they can be used as a place for prayer and contemplation, and as physical protection from direct contact with the earth.   Carpets are essentially a synthetic, man made replacement surface for the earth that can incorporate fascinating combinations of artistry,  design and even magical functions. In this series of work, I’m interested in the use of borders for protection,  the carpet as a representation of the contemporary landscape and environement, designs and functions, and as a site of contemplation, healing and rejuvenation.  

 

1.  Using Borders for protection:  I have been exploring the function of borders and framing techniques within the surface of the painting and I am interested in the way that they are used in traditional Persian carpet making as  as a form of protection for the carpet user.  The wider or more layers of border,  the stronger the spell of protection that exists within the carpet.    In some of the work,  I'm interested in using stylized/ abstracted utopian and even cartoon/ videogame images of things like rainbows, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, swimming pools, flower gardens and geometric patterns to create protective borders as a refuge from the fear of natural disasters, climate change, displacement and extreme weather. 

 

2.  Carpet as a garden or representation of the environment. Traditionally Nomadic cultures would incorporate details of the natural world  and their environment into the design of their from the landscape.  What would an urban carpet consists of? Incorporating urban elements within the textile of the carpet. Also, carpets composed of depictions of natural disasters.  Volcano carpets, electric storm carpets etc.  (The feeling of the mode of escape is the same as the danger itself)

 

b.   Rejuvenation and contemplation: In recent work I have explored the places in the city where we attempt to find moments of respite or contemplation from the natural world such as in swimming pools, fountains,  city planters, and gardens.

 

 

In each painting, the magic carpet exists as a representation of an object within a composition of a landscape that is itself an abstraction.  Each landscape/ background is composed of a series of stylized marks, geometric patterns,  expressionistic gestures and lines that I have imbued with meaning over time as a semiotics of the environment, i.e  lightning, raindrops, clouds, waves, swimming pools, fountains, gardens, sidewalks, construction sites etc.  

 

I am creating paintings that incorporate and demonstrate multiple functions and investigate the tension between representation and abstraction, as well as the meaning and function of painting itself.  The underlying question is to see how a painting can contain a narrative, exist as an modernist object, and also contain a fantastical, liminal or magical function. 

By attempting to incorporate these multiple functions into a single work, my paintings re-invigorate various approaches from  the cannon of art history to tackle contemporary questions.   Through a consideration of the news cycle,  the destabilization of urban settings, the increase of extreme weather and an awareness of cosmological and astrological events,  I am developing a semiotics of mark making and surface building. My work is about the process that occurs between receiving information and it's translation into a stylized symbol of itself through the  gesture of my hand during the painting process itself.  

 

Throughout the trajectory of my work as an abstract painter, I have been creating a vocabulary derived from the surfaces  and geologic textures found in the urban environment. My grandfather was an archeologist in the middle east, and having been exposed to a geologic perspective of time from a young age, this has informed the lens through which I view the North American urban environment. In my work I attempt to apply a geological and archeological perspective to my immediate environment. I take details from sidewalks, roads and construction sites and distill them into specific mark making and surface building techniques which I combine into abstract compositions that suggest a patchwork; a textile constructed of urban fabrics. The process of building surface and texture is quite active involving techniques like scraping, scratching, pouring, adding and circling with spray paint (like city workers).