Artist Statement

Humidex

This describes a recent and ongoing body of paintings of numerous formats, all of which are oil on canvas.
Humidex is a uniquely Canadian invention that combines heat and humidity to come up with an estimation of what the weather feels like to an individual. It was concocted largely to give us some rationale for why heat affects us so strongly in the summer months. This term appeals to me as a way to describe the paintings I am doing now. Since they are based on a form of representation of places I’ve been or things I’ve experienced, it always seems like what ends up on canvas is like a ramped up version of reality. This makes more sense when you realize that a lot of these paintings come from time spent in the Dominican Republic (my wife is Dominican) where not only is it hot, but intense both culturally and economically. So, the sum of all this is a sense that things are more concentrated than the purely visual reality. This also goes for experiences in other places – including the rather bucolic hikes I occasionally take in Canada. Wherever it be, it is a relation to nature that grips me. Looking at a mangrove forest (my current obsession) is a deeply primitive experience. The way those trees form, the swampy smell, habitats they support strike me as representing something fearful and fascinating. When I go to paint them the whole project turns into an equivalent twisted, fragrant affair. It completely excites me to make reality vibrate in a way that actually seems like a more accurate presentation of an experience. From my perspective, what I paint – a bunch of trees, a sunrise, people hanging out in the water – is really rather ordinary. This is done to neutralize the “subject” and put the weight on the experience of the painting: the way the thing is shot back at the viewer. My primary (pardon the pun) tool to do this is colour. Though I suspect I have a rather decent understanding, the way it takes hold of a painting often seems closer to driving a car on a switchback with no guardrails. This sounds like a thrill-seeker approach, but what I really want to do is go toward sensation, affects or intensities in a way that only painting can. Movies, virtual reality and so on are all very good at this, yet in a highly complex way. When you pick up a brush and put it in coloured dirt (as Guston said) the whole thing is terribly fundamental, if not simple. In a world that is rife with speed, production levels and high definition, it seems that a little low resolution might actually cut its way through the noise simply because it operates on a different wave length.