Portraits

“Abstraction at the edge of the figurative. Music, statement, name, enchantment. Or, in his portraits, abstraction embedded in the face, the gaze: to see the mind, the music, in that face. The sense that by looking you are now inside the paintings. Gestures in the lines, risen from the memory of past gestures; a kind of writing, recognition. It all comes down to the staging of light, unsteady edge, incantation. No telling what will emerge once you enter.”

—Jason Weiss (writer and editor)

“Seems that in all the years since I gave up realism in favor of my own personal abstraction, I’d never surrender my fancy for painting portraits. I attribute being good with likeness to brushwork speed, working wet into wet, always aiming for an expression unobtainable with photography. I notice how each portrait shown here reflects upon my approach to the abstraction I was working on at the time. For example Portrait of Robert Ashley (on this page), held side by side with Agnus Dei or the Diptych (both on the collage page) show that they’re one and the same palette.

“It was good having met the music personalities featured who posed for me, capturing what they to me personally mean: Hanrahan’s often use of half-light and darkness in his lyrics, Pullen’s awareness as he sat at the piano, Ashley’s calm whisper, Thomas’ words of travel, inspiring ‘Obsessions’ (featured on the abstractions page)… These are a few of many who corrupt and inspire what I must destroy and recreate. It’s always excited me so to be the painter amongst my peers who work by other means, with other tools, but who maintain a similar reflection on society.”

—Ritchard Rodriguez