Pneuma, in ancient Greek philosophy and medicine, referred to an omnipresent fiery essence in the air which served as the animating spirit of the world. I first encountered the term when researching the Delphic Oracle of Mount Parnassus in Greece.
As early as 1400 B.C., Priestesses of the Temple of Delphi would give voice to prophecies after inhaling vapors emanating from a fissure in the ground; after inhaling Pneuma. Having read the Roman poet Lucan's account of witnessing such a ceremony, I wanted to paint those vapors, the chthonic clouds emanating from Mother Earth with their messages (before the Temple of Delphi was Apollo's, it belonged to Gaia, the primal Mother Earth goddess).
Moreover, people of the ancient world were not the only ones wishing to divine knowledge from mists on a mountain. Twentieth century scientists created Cloud Chambers -- vacuum sealed containers in which condensation from supersaturated vapors, ionized by radiation, enabled them to discover particles such as the positron, muon, and kaon. The last two being discovered only after researchers performed their experiments on a mountaintop.
Isopropyl Alcohol, used to supersaturate the vapors in cloud chamber experiments, is among the numerous petroleum products created in the Bayway Refinery in Linden, New Jersey. Giant plumes of steam emanating from that facility can be seen for miles on the skyline, especially when driving the New Jersey Turnpike. For a period of eight years, I observed them on a daily basis during my commute to and from work. Numinous and epic in scale, these ascending steam clouds invoked a drama -- especially when lit at night. Prompting the question: "what prophecy do these man-made clouds bring?" -- they served as a model for the paintings I made.
Given that Climate Change Experts say that we have twelve years until the effects of Global Warming are irreversible, perhaps it's time again to listen to Mother Earth.
-- June, 2019
The theme of Divination continues to be a constant inspiration and thread through my work. I see an analogous essence between the acts of divination and the act of creating art.
These drawings are attempts at unifying the platform of the open book, viewed from a three-quarter angle, with the forms of word balloons.
Generally, inanimate objects are not given word balloons in the comics; these objects, however, are books-therefore having a lot to offer. That being said, the word balloons in these drawings are empty, or illegible, my focus being the problem of embedding them within the form of the book, while at the same time, having them appear to be emerging from it. Quite different from what happens in the comics- where word balloons float in the air, detached from the speaker.
"Our task is to listen to the news that continually grows out of silence." --Rainer Maria Rilke
Inspired by preparing meals for my family, these small paintings generated from cooking; when prepping the fruits and vegetables by cutting them in half- by cross-sectioning them- the memories of the resulting configurations acted as a starting point for the works.
They represent a cluster of forms, gathered as a celebration of fertility, the rejuvenating nature of plants, and the mystery of growth. The paintings themselves are seeds which are waiting to provide an empathetic viewer with their stored energies.
To imbue a form with a nucleus is to endow it with consciousness.
I have always been fascinated in the way images are created in the mind's eye while reading. Taken unawares, the reader forms pictures in his/her mind that take precedence over the printed page. At this point, the text becomes partnered with the generated mental images in such a way that it no longer possesses the feeling of printing; it becomes open imagery.
Were it possible, while reading, to freeze the moment when the text begins to form the images in one's mind's eye, and take a cross section of it-- that is the space that I'm painting.
The question I ask is... how would the text look, hovering above the pages, before it arranges itself into a recognizable image? No one has seen this; imagining it gives a painter the freedom to explore the nature of the genesis of images.
And...in the end, it's really all about freedom, isn't it?
-- April, 2004
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese Text used for Divination. It is known as the "Book of Changes."