This is a work of astronomic fiction. In the center is a depiction of the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Moving transversely across the “sky” we see a diagrammatic view of a “linear galaxy”. The surface of the painting is a “cineramic arc” with cutouts where nebulae are painted on the underside of the surface and are reflected in mirrors on the back panel. The viewer is indeed transported into “deep space.”
As an artist, you are always envisioning how to play with the illusion of physical space. The wall that the art hangs on is usually the end of that space. However, when you add mirrors, you extend space through the wall and your own reflection creates movement inside the painting, making you part of the voyage.
Sometimes it’s important to lighten up about the cosmos. In a universe so awesome, and perhaps terrifying, it might be comforting to imagine a simple hoedown as a representation of an immense cosmic get together.
I am using hot colors and combining round shapes and bright linear movement to create an emotional effect that sets a fanciful mood. I am also working with a composition that emphasizes “playing with the edges” where everything moves away from the center, as do stellar explosions.
Left View Perspective
The multi-dimensionality of this painting creates a dynamic experience. When viewed from the sides, new shapes and images appear which add another dimension to the painting. The painting utilizes mirrors in two ways. The “shattered” mirrors reflect the motion of the viewers’ own image as they move around the painting. A curved mirror, not directly apparent to the viewer, serves to distort the image that is reflected in it.
Additionally, the mirrors introduce a play between direct and reflected images. Although several colored lines appear to run continuously across the top of the painting in the front view, the images inside the rectangle are actually a reflection, whereas those on the both sides of the rectangle are painted representations of Hubble images of nebulae. In this way, the continuum runs linearly through different interpretations of what the human eye actually sees (i.e., images seen through a mirror and through a telescope). These features challenge the traditional approach to composition and visualizing space.
The hourglass shape of the nebula could serve as a metaphor to remind us that time might be running out for us on earth, even if space and time itself continue forever. It is a cosmic wake-up call.
A star starts with cosmic dust mixed with gas and a lot of gravity. It can live for billions of years. Then one day it starts to enlarge, having difficulties fusing hydrogen and helium. It may then grow into a red giant or, if conditions are just so, result in a cataclysmic explosion forming a super nova.
This painting is dimensional. It has cutaways showing a calm background of stars on its back panel. In front, in a diagonal design, is a history of birth, life and death.
On an imagined exoplanet in a faraway solar system is another Venus, where the surface is covered by noxious gases. Mountains protrude and colors are distorted by its unique atmosphere.
In this painting, the colors can become the artist’s whimsy, since we have no idea how light is reflected on the planet’s strange surface. The end result is an awkward harmony of dissonant hues.
The free shape format moves away from the traditional composition of a central focus and makes the edges more prominent. The sun at the top overwhelms and the mountain extensions on the other three edges become more important.
The Hubble Telescope has brought us visual experiences that are a shock to the senses. These are scenes of breathtaking beauty and explanations of cosmic activity that we laymen could hardly imagine.
This painting explores these images by dealing with a major direction in contemporary paintings. That is the depiction of ambiguous space and abstract forms. It is not like dealing with the landscape or still life where you know the position of every element and you have a horizon to assist you. Here you can allow all convention to fly out the window…into space.
The segment of a Mobius strip that is the center of the painting is a play on the idea of traveling through the universe. It is one of the enigmas in geometry where you can follow a straight line on its surface and return to the identical spot where you started, which would make it a one-dimensional surface on a three-dimensional form. Einstein thought that traveling through the universe would happen in a similar manner.
Collaged and painted into this picture are some Hubble images of a star cluster, a nebulae and a galaxy, all not in the correct position, which is the benefit of working abstractly.
This may not be our Mercury, but one in another solar system far away. It is too close to its sun but at a distance where it does not evaporate.
This painting is experimenting with space in a landscape that we are not familiar with. There is nothing green to balance the overall color. Hot colors all the way to the horizon and the sky is purple and turquoise, pulling the eye forward. Yellow streams of melting material confuses distance.
What fun it is to play with space…to create holes in the painting suggesting canyons and bas-relief enhancing the mountains.
For this black hole, the sun was breakfast. The planet is waiting to be a mid-morning snack.
Although invisible, a black hole is probably the most powerful force in the universe. Nothing can escape its gravitational pull that swallows everything in its path, even radiation and x-rays. And now it is confirmed that a large black hole is at the core of our galaxy; a monstrous object with the mass of four million suns in a space smaller than Mercury’s orbit. It is also the glue that holds our galaxy together.
This painting, by contrast, is quite small. It has quarter inch curved strips of wood painted in vivid colors and an undulating surface all pointing to the center where a planet is trying to escape in vain. Depicting this extraordinary power can be equally effective on a small surface.
Since the Big Bang Theory attempts to explain the creation of the universe, we might assume there is some equivalent interpretive language on how suns are created. But it is only a guess.
This paintings works with the idea that everything starts from the center and moves outward. And the expansion is not always perfectly spherical but may be irregular in a particular direction. The image depicts both fragmentation and fluidity which may be the result of nebulae cataclysms. But this is also only a guess.
I am using awkward color harmonies, since purple and chartreuse are a stressful combination, but it helps the movement and dynamics of the explosive occurrence. The painting is on masonite expressing stability and the medium is oil paint which never dries.
Often, nebulae will break up into an hourglass shape with a bright center and two similar shapes extending from that center. Although this painting is of an invented nebula, I imagined that the shape and “colorscape” of this cosmic entity might be reminiscent of a scarab beetle.
Scarab Beetles often are covered in gem-like brilliant colors. Here I have used opposite complimentary colors on a pebble textured surface to emphasize those features. Since the scarab beetle in ancient Egypt represents resurrection and immortality, I would like to assume that this imaginary nebula will never die (or at least will be reborn).
These clusters are common all over the universe. They are usually the birthplace of stars which are often red giants that eventually disintegrate, providing the material for a new star birth. All these stars are held together by enormous gravitational pull which might lead to the creation of new galaxies.
This painting does not depict a particular gathering of stars, but rather describes its power and force.
Taking exception to my love for rich and vibrating colors, I am imagining a dead landscape. The colors are black and white, greys and browns. These are the colors of early photography suggesting a wonderful, quiet, nostalgic beauty.
Does a shaped and protruding canvas create a more “modern” image, using such a limited palette? Does the subject matter help? I have even collaged photos of actual meteor fragments and attempted to recreate textures to indicate the asteroidʼs surface. It is a picture of lifelessness in endless orbit, feeling serious and grave.
But gravity is the answer. It changes orbits and at some point this asteroid will be pulled toward a new home, ending in a fiery, fragmented burst of energy, streaking through the sky.