I am a painter. In my now forty-eight year career, my work was entirely abstract until 1996 when I began painting portraits which I’d come to understand as a natural-theatrical extension of my ongoing abstract work. In my paintings that are absent portrait subjects, the context remains abstract, notwithstanding the presence of some recognizable imagery.
I am devoted to the idea that all images, no matter how pure, reductive, abstract or representational are loaded with meaning; and that meaning, whether abstruse or immediately accessible can be communicated.
Throughout my career, my central concern has been the viewer’s more or less conscious expectation of gaining insight into meaning in a work of art; the real significance of which is that it is one of the ways that people reflect on their own lives. The theatre of visual events in my work is intended to provide the viewer an induction to reverie and reflection; this function also defines my ethical purpose as an artist.
My break with historically understood formal conventions leads to unanticipated ways of making and reading imagery, and communicating meaning. The synthesis of possible connotations occurring in certain imagery and the technical variations in my treatment of surface reflect these inclinations and create a theatrical set of circumstances. The drama arising from these juxtapositions is neither didactic, nor narrative; the angle of approach is poetic and more akin to music in imparting meaning.
Rather than expounding theory, the paintings raise questions with respect to the relative meaning of imagery. The pivotal element in communicating meaning in my work is a theatrical sense of psychological presence; and this has been the case for as long as I can remember. En route to connecting to conceptual content in the work, the viewer’s initial visceral response to the paintings is most significant; in fact, I believe that the visceral response is of primary importance, even if the viewer has little interest in conceptual content.
My paintings serve as envoys to the viewer, a summoning to contemplation in painterly terms which convey sensation, and so extend their invitation to enter the picture.
Stephanie Rose, 2019