The field the figures occupy plays an important role in the way the paintings resonate. The field acts as both a container and a membrane or veil through which the figure emerges or recedes. For the most part, the field is neutral and atmospheric, made up of layer after layer of thinly applied paint. The push/pull process of working the figure into the right location enriches the surface and creates the emotional tone of the work. I am trying to make very slow paintings that require and reward patient looking. They are made slowly and work on the viewer over time, revealing nuance slowly. The moment fixed on the canvas is transitory, quiet and reflective of our temporary condition.
The paintings that make up the current series are based on gestures of figures taken out of various contexts. My intention with regard to this ongoing project is to explore the expressive possibilities of color within the field while focusing on gestures related to specific activities. A goal of this project is to compare and contrast gestures taken from a variety of contexts that speak to our time and condition. While gesture and context play a large part in the formation of the subject of this work, the main emphasis is to create compelling paintings. As a form, paint resonates in a slower, quieter vibration than many media, it works on the viewer over time and must hold up and resonate over time. I believe that painting is going through a transformation and that it must 1earn from other media and philosophical approaches to art making while maintaining its own integrity.
I choose to paint because of the fullness of the process. It involves my imagination at a deep and mysterious level, while remaining a very physical activity that involves all kinds of motions from stretching the canvas to applying the paint. It is this loving and intimate gesture of applying paint that appeals to me most. The types of marks that are possible from this activity of decision making are endless. The risks, erasures, revisions and resolutions that go into the work are layered in its strata. The end result is the sum of this history. I want my paintings to speak to this process and also to speak to the history of painting. As a subject, the figure has been there from the beginning. It has been used to express conditions that require identification on a human level. I am using the figure because I want to connect with this figure. I want to empathize and become this figure for the duration of the painting. I want to know what the figure is feeling through an empathetic connection in my own body. It is my responsibility as an artist to provide this opportunity for the viewer and to be able to organize events in the painting so that the viewer may have a meaningful experience.
2016 MARK MULHERN