The painter is interested in a sensibility inspired by the patterns and marks of the Earth. All work is influenced by the marks of the Earth: geological, arboreal, fluvial. The opposition between Art and Nature is irrelevant, as it used to be that Art (Culture) and Nature were to be diametrically opposed to each other – the modernist orientation which, it may be added, could have been the very opposition that created “Nature.”
Painting is like any other being: it is the result of processes. The painted surface is in correspondence to the way the surface of the Earth forms. This connection is not arbitrary: it is at the root of the way in which matter in relation to the fluvial on a surface performs. It may be the painter’s fascination for Earth through an idiom of abstraction that is much more inclined towards an accurate depiction of the world than a mere illustrative approach. The materials perform the event of making analogous to Earth’s making. Abstraction is not an opposition to nature, the figure, the vegetable, the animal, the human, the mineral, etc., — the marks themselves are linked-up to larger processes of growth found in the environment, in the vegetable and animal, and the micro-universe of the human body.
Even the most sterile surfaces of the old avant-garde show their age and cracks appear, as the painted surface cracks like the Earth cracks.
There is really no abstraction “abstracted” from nature: the gravity of paint is already at work in the gravity of the Earth. And from this follows Smithson’s rundowns. The painting is an artifact of processes going on elsewhere and that can be expressed elsewhere. The gravitational pull of the paint is something of a revelation to the painter who saw with his eyes the gravitational working of mineral deposits on the cliffs of Lake Superior. As a conduit in which to act, what appears is not a picture but an image of an event: the painter confronts the surface with materials and the image is the result of his encounter. The painting is thus the action of materials in solidified rest; it’s image is a record or trace of the tension inherent in the creative processes.
Such painting gets closer than any other kind of painting in conveying the sense of Earth’s own dynamic markings: Earth is constantly changing, creating and destroying through processes and so too the painter that confronts the materials directly. Expanding beyond re-presentation, beyond a window-into-a-world, the world of painterly materials are energetic processes of tension. The surface of the canvas is equal to the surface of the Earth: a field in which layering and erosion take place. Painting is geological and sets up a model for recognizing that not all action on the world stage is human.
The charm of material is not superficial: the field of a constantly creative entity creating itself out of itself. When painting interacts with geo-sensibility one’s little drams hardly count for anything, since what is more significant is how the small trace or record of the artifact is analogous to the larger events.
– JM (Nov 2014)