The aim of art, so far as one can speak of an aim at all, has always been the same; the blending of experience gained in life with the natural qualities of the art medium.
Hans Hofmann, Search for the Real
I am an honest man when Im not lyin.
When I write these things, I often feel like the murder suspect kept under questioning in some detective story. You know the one, where the cops shine the impossibly bright light on the suspects face and demand to know where he was on the night of the fifth. Theres a desk in the room, cigarette smoke in the air, concrete floor, the chair looks uncomfortable, and theres an expectation that somehow the answers will make everything make sense, with this one theyll crack the case. What did you have in mind when you made these paintings? What was your intention? Where is the murder weapon? Answer us and well let you off easy, say 20 years. Well, I was there, I know that much. Beyond that, Im looking for an exit so I can skip town and hope someone else takes the fall.
Why would I want to dodge the blame for something that has my prints all over them? With writers, its easy to confuse the author and narrator. Lots of folks like the autobiographical, the straight story. If you cant see the answer, then look at the artist. Whats his story? A+B=C. Connect the dots. But with this work, I ask that you not confuse the two. Its first person, sure, but your connect the dots picture with the paintings and my life would be awfully skewed, and I would probably like your picture better. But there are bits of my story in these paintings and drawings, plenty of the emotional stuff. Theres a lot of anxiety in this work, from a loved one being sent off to a shitty and violent part of the world, (my wife to Iraq); to being worried that I cant be mother and father to someone who is dearer to me than oxygen, (my son). But these paintings arent about me, and I dont want folks walking away with my story. I just want to paint.
So what about the title? The Cloud Eaters? Strange title, but desire makes us strange beings. I am often witness to a disconnect with the people around me and where they put their feet. I feel compassion for them; I see but I cant touch. And I want to touch them, I want to get inside them, but I am a shy quiet man who works in the shadows. It should be easy to tell that these paintings are from an outsiders perspective, an outsider living on this island (you cant call me a local) and an outsider living on an Army base (military culture for which I have no love and no affinity, and to whose people I have mostly ambivalence and a dishonest sense of superiority, but who I love all the same).
If you want the big answer, the one that cracks the case, then these paintings are asking the viewer to look at themselves looking at the world around them, and see if what they see makes sense to them, and if it doesnt how their conception of their lives is molded by this perception, how they change it, and how their desires change them. Its an annoying proposition for most people, a demand for a certain distance that many dont have the patience or need to bother with, except maybe when theyre half-listening to the secret voices in their heads as they fall asleep. Sure, the question is always eating away under the skin, but we easily find more interesting distractions to keep the existential bugs at bay. The paintings dont provide the kind of answers or illumination one expects with light bulbs and cash prizes. These testaments are as murky as the thoughts of the person reading this statement, and just as proud. Were all cloud eaters. If you want the real culprit, then you need to look inside my gut. The world is as cacophonous as the mynah birds outside my window in the morning, and my gut always answers it. I drag these beings from my gut and I make them real by painting them. I owe no one anything and these paintings are as separate from me as I am from you. You could say the paintings did it. I was just the murder weapon.