As an artist, I am primarily inspired by the human figure. I am drawn to its unmatched power to evoke an emotional response. I am drawn to its rich tradition as the essential motif throughout the history of art. I am drawn to the risk.
Yes, risk. The nude always straddles a fine and indistinct line between the obscene and the sublime. It commands attention, it is never innocuous. The nude speaks to us at the deepest levels of our being, an ideal ingrained in our genetic code. Its execution and style largely defines, in artistic terms, the cultures which have created (or not created) it; as our response to it hints at the nature of our own culture. The nude, for good or bad, always makes a statement.
I believe in creativity. I do not wish to replicate the genres of the past, but to use that rich heritage in making new statements about our own times; and all times. Using juxtapositions of the old and new I strive to create work which will engage the intellect and stir the emotions.
I believe in content. The content can be narrative, symbolic, visual, or all of the above. Content is the element that defines representational painting. It allows for layers of meaning in addition to the purely visual experience provided by abstract and nonrepresentational work. Yet we still have the full use of the powerful expressive tools which can make such work so exciting. Representational work can be enjoyed on multiple levels, that is its strength. It is the content which offers the opportunity to bring subtle nuances to the story the painting is telling. Yet I believe that content must remain ambiguous. A painting should leave room for the viewer's own experiences to complete the meaning of the piece for themselves. This completion on an individual level is where ART happens. The painting is the vehicle for that experience.
I believe in tension. In the largest sense I mean the tensions that develop from contrasts in approach and in subject material. I view my work as an attempt to synthesize new art based on the expressive power of traditional figure painting, combined with the energy and excitement of nonrepresentational work. The tension between the subject, and the means used to create the illusion of "subject", is at the heart of the work. I enjoy combining disparate elements in novel ways in the attempt to create a complex emotional response in the viewer that mirrors the contradictions and nuances which underlie our emotional and intellectual lives.
On a more technical level I love the visual tension created by physical contrasts in the paint itself. I work in oils because they provide the greatest variety of visual and textural effects and richest color of any single medium. The contrast between light and dark, warm and cool, smooth and rough, transparent and opaque, blurry and sharp, provide variety and richness to the paint surface. These are the essential tools for manipulating the eye and controlling the experience of the viewer.
I believe in craftsmanship. It is not enough to have ideas to communicate, as artists we have an obligation to learn the tools and techniques necessary to make that communication happen. One cannot write good poetry without knowing the language.
I want to know the technical means to achieve any effect or duplicate any style in oil paint, but I have no interest in copying those styles for their own sake. Contained within these styles and techniques is the language of paint. The more dialects of that language I speak, the richer the discourse. These various styles contain specific rules, which lend consistency to the results achieved when working within them. Breaking these rules is important to the creation of new art, but one has to know and understand the rules beforehand. Otherwise our experiments are aimless flailing, rather than serious exploration.
On a less esoteric note, for the sake of our collectors and posterity we should work with the longevity of the work in mind. Archival materials and sound painting practices should be used. We must build our works as well as we can, and build them to last; that is the essence of craftsmanship.
I want to create art which reflects the complex and ever changing world of today, while respecting the rich traditions of the past. I aspire to a serious exploration of painting and ideas as we begin the 21st century.
Mark E. Miltz