Together (17 works)
In this series I'm concerned with the effort to regenerate public space and be, in a real sense, a good citizen of the commons. A handful of intellectual heroes stand in the background: the urbanist Jane Jacobs, the sociologist Richard Sennett, the philosopher/novelist Iris Murdoch, and the psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.
The thread linking these somewhat disparate folks is a concern for civility, uniting the head and hands in work, and beauty as vital to the life lived well.
More personally, the series expresses a longing to embrace—as opportunity, cooperation, fellowship—the human throng in public venues, rather than to flee from the clamour and be alone. The paintings are about freedom, but not the isolating kind, the one that removes others. Did I mention I was a lapsed Catholic?
The works place value on such pro-social qualities as grace and sprezzatura, the Renaissance concept for a lightness of manner and indirectness of communication. They consider unselfing rather than individualism as paths to freedom, a more Old World Catholic-Jewish-Muslim outlook than Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
Visually, the art of Stephan Andrews plays a part, especially in the use of a restricted CMYK palette and effort to make art both manually accomplished and thought provoking. The feel of street life in Italy where I lived in 2015-16, and whose messy public culture I struggled to manoeuvre with young children and carless, has also slipped in.
So long as people crowd in and both irk and exhilerate me, there will be more to come. In the meantime, pick through the images I've completed so far and let me know your thoughts,
even especially the uncivil ones.