Mysterious Questions

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The following is a short question and answer session I did for the Mysterious Creatures exhibition at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford, OR. While the newspaper article used select quotes, I thought the reporter asked some interesting questions, so I'm publishing the entire exchange here.

1. What is the theme you're reflecting in this exhibit? 

On the surface, the theme of the work in this exhibit is devils doing... well, devilish things. On a deeper level, I use devils as a metaphor for more human behavior. Each piece has its own theme, ranging from shunning/scapegoating, forgiveness (and its limits) to simple contrariness. I try not to be overly explicit with my ideas, however, to allow viewers room for their own interpretations.

2. What or who are your major sources of inspiration, especially for this exhibit?

I have many influences, like artists James Ensor and Philip Guston, and author J. G. Ballard for example. For the work in this show, I looked at past depictions of Hell and its inhabitants, from the almost human devils of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement to the beautifully bizarre creatures found in Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. It’s a large and inventive resource. The idea to use devils as a metaphor for human behavior comes from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, where he used monsters and aliens for the same purpose.

3. I think your style of art is very intriguing, though provoking, and consistent. How do you decide what you want to reflect in a painting through your style?

The quick answer is trial and error. It may not be obvious from the finished piece, but there is a great deal of improvisation in my work. I usually start with a general idea of what I want, but I’m mindful of the process of painting and try to take advantage of unintended outcomes. The dialogue I have with the material, that gives the paint a “voice,” helps integrate my ideas with my style, even though the idea may change as I work. I not only accept the result, I welcome it.

#jamesdeeb #devilsadvocate #mysterious creatures