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Painting is a highway to low ideals, base physicality and redundant mimicry, or else it is a "low way" to high sentiment, subtle metaphysics and jarring revelations. Or else it is neither, or both. By nature of the very process by which a painting is created, that of building up layer upon layer, each willingly subsumed by the subsequent, the painted surface is a locus which reveals as it conceals, which diverts attention as it instructs, which withholds in order to present. In this the art of painting parallels the larger visual culture which, rather than withholding, supplies us with such an overabundance of information that it collectively becomes one unified moment of truth and falsehood. In fourteenth century England an anonymous Christian mystic wrote that a "Cloud of Unknowing" forever separates us from direct knowledge of God, and today this innate barrier is supplemented by an artificial one, the seemingly impassable hall of mirrors of the culture itself. It is within this climate of epistemological quagmire that I situate my paintings and drawings. Visual representation, abstraction, simulacra, and subjectivity all come into play and intersect as information attempting to know itself, while paint, as rarefied mud, serves as the carrier. Images and motifs from various mystical religious traditions such as Christian, Hermetic, Gnostic, Occult and Buddhist interact with those from art history and contemporary popular culture to engage in a discourse on the nature of illusion, the politics of representation, personal responsibility, and the possibility of truth. In this way I am attempting to pursue a "Mysticism of the Spectacle," by way of a "Mysticism of Paint," which addresses these issues without disregarding the attributes of the medium itself.

Posted by James Bradley on 3/24/12

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