Symbols & Ciphers
The Code #1; Symbols & Ciphers – 24″ x 24″
Acrylic, Textural Medium on Canvas 2009
A coded visual language, painting is a cipher through which I articulate my connection to life, world, spirit and the universe beyond. An iconography rich and dense in layers, symbols speak to those elusive, philosophical or spiritual concepts I’ve yet to fully grasp, define or comprehend completely. Symbols provide me an additional language in my painting to explore in a tangible way the shapes, subjects, colors and forms that resonate with my mental states of being. I am guilty of the theft of proprietary iconography in the expressing of these states of mind and feeling with their use, but through all image regardless of where it originates, I am able to work towards a conscious clarity in my life, in my relations and my place in the cosmos.
Like a moth to a flame I am drawn towards the long history of symbolic representation in art, culture, story, language, belief and even power. A picture, a myth, a gesture, a name, term or color, symbols are often familiar, yet possess specific connotations in addition to conventional meaning. Manifesting in many forms, they are visible signs that point to greater worlds of meaning. The product of humankind’s creative processes and due, in part, to mutations resulting from stylistic and contextual expression, their content is not entirely virtual. Red may mean stop, green may mean go; yellow can evoke smiley faces and feelings of being happy; blue, something deep, liquid and cool. Symbols and their meaning can be culturally shared or specifically relevant and remain unique to me or to any other individual.
As with words, I find symbols call for interpretation; and as with words I can only understand them properly in terms of the codes that shape their composition. Parallel, contrasting and analogous meanings are sought and considered in my quest for understanding, and subsequent conscious and subconscious relations to those points of reference then explored. I am, to some degree, bound by the symbols connection to text as well as their cultural, religious or social contexts and must take those into account in my exploration of any potential internalized relevance and resulting artistic expression or use. This feels particularly true in the internalization of meaning.
Ancient peoples used symbols to interpret the world around them, the natural and superlative. I can choose to read the physical world as did the ancient oracles; in the casting of bones, in the embers of fire, and recount those portents as they did on the walls of caves or on canvas. I can place them under pen, paint brush and microscope to dissect them, along with myself, in ruthless abandon. Powerful enough to evoke either fear, bliss or both; transformation, rebirth, regeneration, salvation, dependant origination are all terms and concepts that are coded and contained within their imagery and act to draw me outward and inward.
It is my intent to always remain sensitive to the past, present in the moment and alert to future possibilities. I am aware that symbols are part of the human heritage and I am awed in the knowledge that some are potent enough to transcend ethnic, historic, and spiritual boundaries. As an example, I consider the Mandala to be one of those great symbols of human experience. In painting and journaling, I am creating a manuscript, and contained within that visual lexicon of symbol, cipher and code is the philosophical underpinnings that support and give my life substance and a deepening of meaning.