My paintings begin with the idea of stratification. On one level, they function as models of connectivity, arrivals, or snapshots of structures and relationships in flux, carrying the evidence of serpentine paths that led to their destination. The process is operational, where imagery grows through classical ideas of gesture and touch, and in the way paint is applied.

Working up from basic questions of how to paint, various overlaid elements are organized and networked to compose the picture field into horizontal and vertical bands, and the painting builds into an overall structure with components that are inseparable. I gather and conjoin various series of procedures and the myriad ways to divide the field as well as develop visual relationships, including space/scale, and figure/ground. In this way the painting is a compendium of methods for carrying the paint across the surface, allowing for thinned-out washes to turn into heavily brushed sections, with some parts squeezed right out of the tube and mixed directly on the surface.

A central narrative in my work is making color come into its own through response to other colors. Color is laid in so that layers of paint on top correspond with layers underneath. Every pigment is a chemical and triggers a chemical response, which can affect the figure and ground fluctuations in the paintings. Among the many color models for negotiating and exploring contradictions between scientific reason and personal expression, what are the best means of resolving color questions or arguments? Do I use off-the-shelf colors from tubes, or mix them on a palette? Can color be assigned by chance, or some other arbitrary system? As color is a function of illumination, how do I find form with it and balance that with creating a psychological space? My chromatic configurations form a dynamic system of zigzag lines, diamonds, spot/blocks, and helices, so that color and movement support each other. The zigzag lines intersect with those in adjacent rows, forming shapes that convey energy and agitation.

Having said all this, a question will remain for the viewer: what exactly am I looking at? The paintings can be seen as contemporary impressions of the constructed world and its impact on or relationship with natural spaces, underscoring our persistent need to understand ourselves through space. The natural space that occurs within the planet's biodiversity includes growing, dying, entropic, and organic systems. In contrast, assembling painted elements can form new constructed spaces, creating the notion of the abstract sublime. My paintings undertake a topoanalysis of spaces that have invited us to come out of ourselves. These could variably suggest biological, chemical, cosmological, or psychological entities undergoing metamorphosis. Metaphorical ambiguities and multiple associations about subject identity and scale, then, are open. The paintings can reveal alternative, even in some ways contradictory logic.

Jack McWhorter