DAVE CLAY

Representation and Abstraction

I prefer my work to have recognizable subjects over pure abstraction to encourage emotional connections in the viewer’s mind. These subjects allow an opening to engage the viewer and stir personal experiences. It is extremely important that my paintings be accessible to everyone. As Rothko said:

“One does not paint for design students or historians but for human beings, and the reaction in human terms is the only thing that is really satisfactory to the artist”

The figure partially obstructed by abstract textures and distortions then presents a challenge. There is a representation of something real, it is not purely a technical rendering. Nor is it realism as a vehicle for symbolism or commentary on culture. The abstractions leave space for internal reflections on ennui, solitude, love, and remembrance. 

Our emotions are complex and connect seemingly opposing states of being. Like nostalgia that sits somewhere between sorrow and beauty. Yet the delineations and categories of emotions we construct are not the experience themselves. They are a set of abstractions used to communicate and contend with an infinitely complicated and interconnected world.

These paintings can then be thought of as another mode of contending with our complex emotional existence in an exceedingly complex and difficult external world. From personal relationships to cultural fears to climate change and environment, our internal worlds feed back into the external world for better or worse. I hope that the time spent reflecting on internal experiences and emotional connections in the art manifests a physical, external change for the better of us all.

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