Sept 22, 2018 This statement accompanies the new series “none can exhaust the body”.
The essence of my painting is to reduce, to eliminate distractions; to peel away everything that isn't essential.
In the series "none can exhaust the body" I present a drawn or painted element – a body – in a painterly space. My painted bodies are reduced to an oval or a convergence of lines. They are non-objective; they are essential bodies.
Plunged into painted spaces, these bodies establish very specific figure/ground relationships. I position elements that aren't easily fitted together, in a kind of tense co-existence.
My pictorial space is a simplified kind of drawing – a limited vocabulary of lines – over-painted with layers of calibrated translucency. I allow spatial illusions to emerge and disappear. I juxtapose colors in abrupt ways. I work with the paint, move it around, build it up in layers.
The paint can start to look like some thing in the natural world, but at the point where objective representation begins, I stop. I disengage from that which is known, away from the look of the natural world.
I propel the painting farther into a world of painting.
Lectures and performances.
2013 "Seeing is Beginning”, a lecture with slides of Robert Hoerlein's studio by
photographer Mark Paul Petrick. PechaKucha 20x20. August 2, 2013.
2013 “Why my painting?”, a slide show and lecture at Maharishi University of Management,
Fairfield, Iowa, March 17.
2006 "How much can a picture be?", a lecture with slides at Mills Gallery, Central College,
Pella, Iowa, October 23.
1988 "Disruption", a lecture at the auditorium of the Des Moines Art Center, “Disruption”, July 16.
1986 “What to Paint Now?”, a lecture at the Institute for Creative Arts, Fairfield, Iowa, June 23.
May 4, 2014 (These statements accompanied the group show "Whimsy", at ICON Gallery, May 2014).
My general resistance to sculpture is that it's mostly too slow, too laborious, and too precious. Also cumbersome, heavy, and expensive.
I want it to happen directly and easily out of materials at hand. It should be mutable, insubstantial and cheap, made and re-made in a moment. Like painting.
If I make sculpture it will be something to hang paint on. Like a painting.
Series: "Sense and not sense"
Does it make sense to paint something so fast that you don't have time to critique, edit, overthink, or talk yourself out of it? Or does doing it so fast not make sense because sense involves time and the senses? Etc etc.
So, sense or not sense?
In that bright shining moment even the question was suspended. Just me and the paint. For a moment at least.
June 15, 2010 (This statement accompanied the one man show "Nothing is forever or even close" at Zane Bennett Gallery in Santa Fe, Jan 2010. Re-edited in June 2010).
Nothing is forever or even close
The natural world is a storm of forces and phenomena, compounded and accelerated by the activities of people. At once beautiful and sublime, horrible and cataclysmic. The changes are relentless. The changing is what never changes.
These paintings are not of nature and they don’t display nature. They pry open the area between the natural and the un-natural.
The photographs embedded in the paintings re-present a particular time and place in the external world. I collide them with areas of color, of paint, of "painting". I test their significations by plunging them into abstraction. I build a kind of (un)balance, I encourage the parts to stay apart.
This is an attempt to open up meaning. The specific real representation is propelled towards an expanded perhaps mythological meaning. States of being are changed and re-ordered in the visual.
Behind all specific meanings is the specter of unknowing, the incompleteness of knowing, the mystery that remains beyond the limits of the known.
October 2006 (This statement accompanied the show How much can a picture be. at Central College in Pella, Iowa, October 2006).
How much can a picture be.
When I say picture I mean a representation. Every art work is a representation of something: from the outer world of objects, or from the inner world of our imagination.
How do we understand a picture’s meaning? Are we only to search for rational understanding, or can we in a moment be free to commune directly with the work of art? And if we do commune directly with it, can this satisfy the search for meaning?
Are we forever tied to the wheel of analysis, exercising the intellect, again and again? Or are we set adrift in a self-referral chaos of abstract meanings?
The meaning/being duality is a great mystery. What is most important, meaning or being? How can we understand this? And what is the measure of it?
January 2006 (This statement was part of press materials for the group show VisibleInvisible at Coe College, Cedar, Rapids Iowa, February 2006).
Gravity is the primal natural force. I allow it to act on paint to produce puddles, runs, drips, splatters and blobs. I get the paint out of the tube or can – the simplest idea is just to see what it will do.
The paint itself – it tends towards looking like things in the world. I work with the paint, embed photos in it, build it up in layers, take it into strange territory. I stop at the point where representational painters might begin.
My paintings take a step towards picturing the natural world, and then stop. Not a picture of anything, not a window to view the world.The composition is of pools of paint, smears, and colored glazes. I work them into very exact relationships that hover between the illusion of space and the reality of a bunch of paint stuck to canvas.
March 2003 (This statement was part of a presentation to the Des Moines Art Center in March 2003).
It’s strange being a painter these days. Painting what? Painting about what? The painting is ongoing, but “The “Painting” -- where is that? What is left of it?
The painting is a sort of Place -- a trace of a practice based on a response to a feeling about an idea. The “painting” is located by painting – it is made.
The painting is not most of it. But it is something that I can show you.