It’s been a busy couple of weeks settling into my new studio space on 18th Street in Brooklyn and getting ready for this weekend’s Open Studio tour. I’ll have several recent works on view during the studio tour, among them several recent Lifeworld paintings.
So, I’ve been looking at my writing about this long-term project, and massaged it all into a nifty Adobe Spark presentation. It’s all based on a pretty nerdy essay I’ve been working on for a while (I have to try to put the philosophy PhD to good use somehow, right?).
I’ve pared it back some for the Spark presentation, but the gist is about how I have been informed and inspired by Edmund Husserl‘s writings on phenomenology. Nerdy but fun! I really didn’t know much (well, nothing) about Husserl until I chanced upon the term ‘life-world’ (“Lebenswelt“) a few years back. But it’s been a happy encounter — this is a rich vein to mine! Perhaps I will publish more of this writing here in the future.
Lifeworlds is a long-range painting project I started in 2012. The project started initially out of a desire to explore the square format in painting. The inspiration for this was not Instagram as one might easily suppose, but the square format Landscape paintings of Gustav Klimt. I then chanced upon the evocative term “Lifeworld” in the philosophical writings of Edmund Husserl and from the confluence of these two streams the project was born.
Now, three years into the project, Lifeworlds continues to evolve and develop. I decided early on that I would continue to make square format paintings under the title of “Lifeworld” until I felt that I had exhausted the possibilities of the format entirely.
In reality, the possibilities of this form may never be exhausted. Therefore, I thought it best to put a cap on it: so the idea arose to work toward the completion of 108 paintings.
Why 108? Those who know me and have followed my work for a while will also know of my interest in Buddhism, and the influence it’s had on my work. 108 is the number of prayer beads in the Buddhist japa mala (a Buddhist rosary). The number is given various meanings in Buddhist cosmology and additionally simply refers to any proverbial big number in the same way that a “myriad” (literally Greek for “10,000”) has come to stand in for anything large and virtually uncountable. So, instead of making some infinite number of paintings, I will make 108 to represent that infinity.
Since one of the uses of a rosary or japa mala is to count repetitions of chants or prayers, a nice thing about the number 108 is that it emphasizes how the project becomes a kind of prayer or meditation on the artistic process, and on the artist’s relationship with his environment — what I’m calling a Lifeworld.
So, I see each Lifeworld as a snapshot of a particular state of mind formed when the artist encounters his subject. Although frequently quite abstract, each painting results from the process of observing my surroundings. The square is both the container for the composition and also one of its principal motifs.
As of this writing, the newest Lifeworld pieces are numbers 32, 33 and 34, all completed earlier this year. The precise imagery continues to evolve and shift, all the while remaining within the parameters of the project: square format and 20″ x 20″ (around 51cm2 — 50.8cm to be exact) in size.
A small note about the size: there are a couple of early Lifeworlds, numbers 5 and 7, that are actually 24×24″ (60cm2). I was still experimenting with the parameters at this stage; I may end up going back and redoing these to fit the program.
So a big project like this needs help, which leads me to …
How you can help:
A big project and entails certain tangible challenges to the artist (not to mention all the intangible challenges!), not least of which are the cost of materials, the cost of studio space (ever-increasing in New York City) and the potential storage costs (108 paintings take up a lot of space!).
So I’m reaching out to you — dear audience! There are several ways you can help:
1. Lifeworlds are for sale! Some have sold already. Prices currently run from $800 to $1,200 for each painting. If you would like to see or purchase a painting (or two or three), contact me. I do hope to mount an exhibition of all or a selection of the paintings in the future — and how cool would it be for you to have a painting that you own in a major retrospective of my work!
2.I accept tips, donations, contributions … etc. If you’re not up to purchasing a painting at the present time, you can also contribute any amount (no matter how small) toward the project through Venmo (the best! No fees for you or me!) or by clicking the paypal donate button below. The arts has always existed through the kind generosity of its patrons.
Wow, if you’ve read this far, I really appreciate your interest. A brief outline of the project (as well as some images) is available on my website, and all of the Lifeworlds can be viewed together on my flickr account. I’ll continue to post future developments here. Stay tuned!