My paintings look abstract. Visually, they reference hard-edge geometric abstraction, abstract expressionism, and minimalism. There appear to be references to Clyfford Still and Barnett Newman, to color field painters and geometric abstractionists. But the paintings are representational. They are based on found graphics and data from online and print media, and are vivid pictures of income and wealth inequality, and of acts of financial malfeasance by ethically challenged bankers and corporate executives.
Appropriated from the financial sections of newspapers, and from economics journals, tweets, blogs, and websites, the data and graphs are transformed. At more than ten times the scale, they gain a clarity and impact not possible as text, or in print or online. In bold colors, the paintings are attractive, even cheerful. But these paintings are data-driven and period-specific rather than transcendent. Beyond self-expressive, they depict what's happening in millions of people’s lives. They embrace Pop Art tactics of appropriation and bright colors, but the source material is unpopular rather than popular media, and they portray the economic and financial conditions roiling our times.
The cheeky titles point to the underlying content. “The Rise of the 1% (…and everyone else)” contrasts the rise in average income of the top 1% over the last 100 years in gold against the average income of the 99% marked by a crawling red line. “The Richest 400: We’re Winning!” combines two statements from Warren Buffet—one, that the richest 400 Americans saw their income increase by a factor of 7 from 1992-2012; two, that class warfare has already begun, and his class is winning.
The paintings on paper in gouache couple graphs and charts with figures based on Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.” In the central panel of Bosch’s painting, people appear to be engaged in pleasant, at times hedonistic activities while ignoring the hell to come. It’s an apt analogy for our times. The figures are juxtaposed with graphs on growing debt and increasing income inequality. While we revel in tech toys and gourmet food in the midst of flat wages and paltry retirement savings, the title of the gouache series asks, Are We Having Fun Yet?