City Crash 10: RETRO-SPECTO
The theme for City Crash 10 is very exciting. Reviewing one's artwork of the past and comparing it to that of the present seems perfect for me just having turned 50 years old. I have always been interested in making art and deciding to study fine arts while in high school was obvious. The realistic portraits and landscapes that I was drawing and painting in high school during the 1980’s started to shift into abstraction at college in the 1990’s while experimenting with perspective, scale, mark-making, and mixed media. Representational portraits began to focus more on the body through expressionistic paintings made with stencils and assembled found objects.
I fell in love with Leipzig 29 years ago during my first visit in 1993. I was 21 years old and visiting my girlfriend Ines, now my wife of 25 years. We had met in Reading, England in 1992 as we were both studying abroad for a year. Back home, I was preparing for my BFA thesis exhibition in New Jersey, USA and was inspired by what I saw and experienced while in Europe, especially here in the former GDR. My artwork shifted to explore the theme of long distance relationships and dislocation. I made a series of paintings of the Tagebau, constructed 2 m high Christmas Pyramids that revolved in the wind or while peddling an attached bicycle, and displayed stuffed animals stuffed in glass bottles.
After graduating in the Spring of 1994, I moved over to Leipzig to be with Ines. I made art in our flat and taught English at language institutes. During this time I used acrylic to paint brightly coloured abstract figures of couples connected neck to neck and then applied dark red and blue oil paint glazes over the painted surfaces.
After marrying in 1997, Ines and I moved to Edinboro, Pennsylvania where I did my MFA in painting. The abstract figures morphed into cells and large organic forms tied or draped over vine-like elements. These paintings became larger and larger, until they were 20 m long paintings circling the perimeter of rooms as installations.
In 2000 we returned to Leipzig. It was great participating in the "24 Hour Exhibitions" held in various abandoned buildings and empty spaces. It was an exciting time to meet friends and party at Bimbo Town, Markt 9, Killiwilly's, and the MB. I experimented with more installations, performances, and art events.
My art production slowed down as I became a full-time art teacher at the Leipzig International School, we had a child and bought a house. Then in 2014 with the reintroduction of the "24-Hour Exhibition" (Optimaler Schnitt), I made a set of narrative paintings that looked realistic. These paintings were a return to realism which I had done in my youth before going to college. The theme is more nostalgic, about Americana, and explores my past while often portraying my son in familiar childhood situations. These pieces engaged me in painting again and has continued up until today.
My most recent paintings from January 2022 explore acrylic staining techniques where I paint on both sides of thin unprimed canvas. The images are of children on amusement park rides, but the style is more free. Loosely painted lines form the narrative elements. Drips and bleeding stain marks are absorbed into the raw canvas- becoming part of the composition. The imagery is similar but the technique is a break from the more laborious realistic oil paintings that I have been creating.
I look forward to sharing my artwork created over these stages of my artistic career. I would propose to display examples of the work that I still have here in Leipzig along with photographic prints documenting the work that is not available at this moment. I would also create web pages on my website and display QR codes at the exhibition for the visitors to be able to see a full ranges of examples from the different time periods. It would also allow viewers from abroad to see my past work and virtually take part in this exhibition.
Click below to see the art