REFLECTIONS ON BEUYS SERIES - 2016 - 2019
From The Museum Studies Series
PAINTINGS IN PURGATORY
I am, at heart, a painter. However my paintings have always seemed to exist somewhere in a state of artistic purgatory. Not purgatory meaning suffering or punishment, but purgatory as a perpetual state of physical and conceptual “in between. My works hang in perpetual limbo, located somewhere between the practice of painting and the image capture of photography. The Reflecting on Beuys series continues this purgatorial practice.
As a first generation child of WW II German immigrants, I have been fascinated by the legend, history, and mystery surrounding the German artist, teacher and “art shaman” Joseph Beuys. To me, his objects are infused with a spiritual presence, colored by his narrative, his legacy and ultimately their display. The sources for these paintings are taken from a display of Beuys’ only major photographic project titled, “Life Course/Work Course” displayed at the Dia Museum in Beacon, NY. I am always struck by how the magnificent cathedral like, repurposed factory space of the Dia building profoundly affected my reading of the artworks on view. In 2015 a new installation at the Dia presented me with the opportunity to fully see and document these Beuys performance photographs for the very first time. The images I captured in my camera became fused and layered with my silhouette. Beuys is revealed through my silhouette layered in the illusionistic spaces of the photograph, the surface of the photo as an object, as well as a reflection of the museum space that was captured in the glass of his industrial framed objects. In translating these images into paintings, an uncanny representation of the real and the mysterious emerged. The works depict multiple unsettling, vacillating spaces and picture planes presenting a metaphor for the mystery of Beuys. These paintings are an index of an index presented in purgatorial space, located somewhere between the real, the representation and the illusion.