Have you ever been in love? Was it that your eyes met across a crowded room, or that butterflies were felt in your stomach, or the anxiety and excitement that led up to a blind date? Perhaps it was the tingling sensation you felt from head to toe, the need and longing for someone, the desire you felt, the touch and intimacy between you both, the emotional highs and lows, the chemistry, or the connection. This connection is often hard to put into words, but you can feel it. A bond with another person you may not completely understand or appreciate, but you cannot imagine not being together. This feeling of love through connection is a mystery that cannot easily be defined.
In my new series Two Lovers, I seek to express this connection of love through layers of paint. Two Lovers shows a relationship between a man and a woman. The series comes in pairs, but each painting can stand alone. Each can act as an individual. Each pair has a title that connects them together. Although they are different on the surface, there is something that draws you into them as a connected pair. They are each other’s soul mate. In their own right, separately they are beautiful and independent, but together they are much stronger, more complimentary, and complete.
The process I took in creating this series often started from the male’s perspective. Each layer added a new aspect to the personality, adding depth. The male’s personality is ambiguous, mysterious, fuzzy, gentle, and loving. The male is hazy and inexplicable, yet bold in color and strength. Although there are questions about him, I cannot live without him; I have no control over his destiny, nor does he mine, yet both of us are destined to be together through our connection. The mystery is intriguing, and this carries over from the male to the female perspective. The female represents patience, reflection, serenity, and takes more of an artistic form. The female must find her own limits, search through her own layers, and find the intrigue and connection she can offer her own self and the one she loves. The strokes I take in these paintings find that balance. I create a circle of layers as a meditation for myself, lingering somewhat aimlessly and somewhat purposefully between the me and the us.
"Passion Flow/ Hanging"
72'' x 62" Each Canvas
Oil on Canvas
"Breeze/ Embrace Me"
72'' x 62" Each Canvas Oil on Canvas
View Gallery "Two Lovers" Exhibition
72'' x 62" Each Canvas Oil on Canvas
"Fury/ In Control"
72'' x 62" Each Canvas Oil on Canvas
Every day is a new day, or so they say, but most often
everyday is routine. Daily life can often feel monotonous. We wake up, eat
breakfast, go to work, head to the gym, etc, and the next day repeat it all over
again. While we go through days without much worry for others not included in
our own worlds, most often it is the environment around us that should
captivate more of our individual attention. In the grand scheme of things it
seems pretty self-absorbed to be so removed from what others go through or what
is happening to the world around us. But one of the most interesting
phenomenons of life is that of a flashback. Those moments, good or bad,
conjured up by a feeling, a photograph, a song lyric, a scent, or a word that
can literally take us back to another time in our life. It is usually these
flashbacks that put our routinely daily lives into perspective.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the World Trade
Center in New York and the Pentagon. The land I now call my home had shaken me
up with fear. I believed that there was no safe place in this world. What I
thought was iron-clad safety in a country I lived in was now shattered and I
believed war was imminent. Subsequently, in March of 2003, the US and its
allies declared war on Iraq. At the same time my mind kept flashing back to my
childhood experiences as a victim of war. Out of nowhere I started hearing loud
gunshots and bombs exploding. Buildings around me crumbled, houses were torn
apart, people were screaming, crying, and running around chaotically. Soon
there was no food to speak of and hunger began a year’s long gnawing at my
stomach. All of these things became part of my daily life. Often I would look
up at the shining stars in the night sky and wish for my family to be in a
better place. I escaped Vietnam with my family in 1981 to find freedom as the
Boat People. My prayers and wishes came true in 1982 when I first set foot in
America, as an immigrant to the land of freedom, peace, and opportunity.
Looking back on the history of humanity and its conflicts to
the present day, I once again look up at the night sky wishing the world would
be a better place for us and our children’s generations to live in. It is here
that I found the answer to the conflicts of war, first through creating a
journal of faces and names of deceased service men and women of the Armed
Forces, then through painting spiral circles on canvas, in desperation of
wanting to heal the wounds of all sufferers including myself and my childhood
experiences. I spent years painting 111,978. It somehow looks like a star lit
sky where the sky and water merge as one. Each circle represents one life that
was lost in the Iraq war. Each circle represents a soul at rest.
As with most feelings and memories, they are fleeting. It is
not long before the flashback ends and you head back to present day life. It is
what we all take from these small moments that push us toward being more aware
and compassionate human beings. Every time someone looks at 111,978, I want
them to walk away with a lingering feeling, one that cannot easily be
explained. All lives are meaningful; all lives have value and purpose. It is
this perspective that will allow me to wake up to a new day, every day.
For the past few years, my mind has been consumed with the
circular shape. Everywhere I
go, I see its beautiful curves, soft flow, shimmering light and fleeting
movement. It captivates me. This fascination arose one afternoon resting
underneath a tree watching the leaves dance and flicker in the soft wind. It
was a simple yet memorable moment. When in the studio, I draw on these moments
encountered with nature to convey thoughts and feelings on canvas.
Each paint layer is an atmosphere created by color thinly
spread with the palette knife. Each day finds a new layer of paint evolving,
like the passing of time from one day to the next. The continual scraping,
leveling, and smoothing of the paint layers with the palette knife resemble
man’s interaction with nature. It is like the ebb and flow of the sea just like
the ups and downs of daily living. The layered depth of the painting speaks of
the organic evolution of emotions and thoughts emanating from the self and
nature as one. Colors in open space radiate the immensity of human emotions
while nature’s mood is continuous, infinite and limitless.
Fascination with the circular shape compels me to create
these small circular spirals by the thousands, one after another. The process
itself resembles the ups and downs of our daily lives. Life’s trials and
tribulations travel in perpetuity, requiring continual improvement just like
painting the spirals in repetitive circular motion. Unlike life’s turmoil, shaping these spirals brings comfort
and soothing, very much like healing a wound.
Painting is an organic evolution of feelings and thoughts at
all levels of consciousness. I may
approach the canvas with a pre-set idea but forms that arrive tend to develop
their own lives as in nature – unfolding in their own time and patterns. Intuitively this natural process
takes over and allows the painting to grow into its own unique form. It has a compelling voice which speaks to
me in a continual dialogue.