Artist's Statement ~ 2017

My current project (Oct. 2016–ongoing) is entitled: (Self) Portrait through The Amerykahn Prism. This work-in-progress, when it is completed, will have variable dimensions of approximately 10 x 15 feet (roughly, 3 x 4.6 meters, variable). It will be composed of about 200 small pictorial elements1 (“pix/els”) that consist of portraits of a wide variety of individuals including family members, acquaintances, and strangers; still life compositions; “abstract” and symbolic representations that are painted primarily in oils on Arches® oil paper. Individual “pix/els” measure from 20 x 20 centimeters (8 x 8 inches) up to 20 x 43 centimeters (8 x 17 inches).

Sources for these images range from “representational” paintings created through my own direct (immediate) observation, illusory forms drawn from the imagination, photographs that I have taken (direct reflexive observation), family photograph albums, newspaper and magazine clippings, television and movie cinematography “frames,” and of course, the wealth of imagery and graphics available on the internet.

In this work, I invite the viewer to participate as I develop and explore aspects of our shared cultural histories, and their interrelationship with various sociocultural and socio-historical mythologies in which we all participate. My principal project, using a complex interwoven network of painted two-dimensional and three-dimensional images, is to visually interrogate concepts of “identity” as I locate myself within the context of a few of my art historical predecessors.

In the creation of this network of painted forms, I am mindful of the complexity implicit in the art historical records, that is, what we see, what we can know or speculate about the creative and cultural processes across the span of the history of human creativity. In my aesthetic appropriation of images, complex cultural indices, and the ethos of other cultures, I seek to build a conscientious affinity with the semiotic power of the referent sign. As a contemporary artist, I look through the discreet frame of art history both holistically, and holographically.

This work does not obtain its structure from geometric exteriority, but through the perceptual event horizon that is created as the spectator physically moves while surveying the network of images (their eyes moving from one image to the next). There are multiple dialogical correspondences between images that engages and prompts the viewer to look further, to make comparisons, to make connections, to make judgements about various aspects of the images. Thus, this visual exploration is informed by an abstracted cinematographic apparatus that implements the coding and un-coding of sequences of images mediated by, through, and over time.

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1 Two important point are intended by the use of this construction. One, I emphasize that each individual painting is a critically important element of a larger work. Two, I emphasize the duality of my creative strategy: each pix/el resonates with its own semiotic potentiality as well as offering a signal thread that binds some of the overarching themes of the image network.

Please click the link below to view the images for this work-in-progress on my MFA candidacy blogsite:

https://michael-herbert-dorn.com/