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"Trilogy" is a series of three paintings exploring the intersection of classical mysticism with our post-modern era.
I have spent the past 10 years studying the writings of mystical masters from all spiritual traditions. During this time, I have developed not only a great respect for many of their ideas, but also a growing sense that the ultimate mystic's goal – that of complete fusion with the divine – is nothing more than a pipe-dream of the clinically insane. True spiritual realization should lead one to become ever more engaged with the world, attempting to right its wrongs, instead of leading a person off down some garden path to the life of a solitary, unwashed anchorite.
Over my career, I have gone beyond reading these works, to translating them into my own personal visual vernacular. I have worked with the Baal Shem Tov (Jewish), Sufis (Islam) and Meister Eckhart (Christian). Additionally, I have created series of paintings, and public art projects, that combined text from past wisdom masters such as Marcus Aurelius, Gandhi, Thomas Merton, Chuang Tzu and dozens of other wisdom masters from many time periods and cultures. I have become more and more comfortable and energized by working with these great thinkers from all time periods, and more adept and interpreting their ideas with a post-modern visual vernacular.
"Trilogy" goes further: with these paintings, I am turning around and facing histories spiritual masters. Not content any longer to simply express their ideas — many of which I find deeply respectable – now is the time to challenge some of their most profound assumptions. I am using this epic series of paintings to update conceptions of the mystic's quest, for our contemporary era.
Contemplation is vital to a healthy world, but it cannot describe an end in itself, as is usually proposed by classical mystics of all religions. Through my deepening understanding and appreciation of past wisdom masters, I have come to comprehend fully this saying of the Buddha: "Actions exist, but the person acting does not." This trilogy explores a new conception of mysticism based in this maxim: one based only in positive, socially-involved action.
The painting process of these works acts as metaphor for the unearthing of a new conception of mysticism, at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. In all three paintings imagery is drawn from specific ideas, and then splayed across the canvas. Once these images have been developed and initially apply, collage elements are jumbled on top, torn away, and applied again. This creative process is ultimately one of excavation – adding collage and painting elements overtop of initial images applied in paint, and then tearing away at the paper to uncover unforeseen correspondences and fragments of hidden imagery. This reinvigoration of the painting process offers a new direction, one thaty fuses the painting process and underlying philosophical concerns. Ultimately, the work hopes to not only express the ideas developed through the work, but to accost the audience with them, forcing them to reconsider the spiritual core of all religions.