A Note on My Recent Work
My recent series of paintings, drawings and videos depict architectural sites that are simultaneously emerging and dissolving. These scenes are never made available to the viewer’s gaze, yet are intimate with varying layers of suggestion. No actual life forms are depicted, because people have not yet arrived, or have fled leaving behind remnants of structures built into the landscape. Nature and commercialization are brought together developing into a new social reality of overgrowth and spatial form.
Further investigation reveals these modern ruins are constructed with surveillance cameras, ropes, pulleys, structural beams, domestic furniture and sound systems, which could imitate the natural world. Artificial light takes the place of the sun, revealing man’s urban fantasies at the height of their existence. From the securing of low income housing, to the fluorescent lit man-made canals in America’s perverse cul-de-sacs, these forms are presented as artifacts echoing in the wake of “Super-Modernity.”
My paintings are executed in gouache and watercolor on mylar and stretched paper. I utilize the fluidity of the paint to create my own cataclysm. Pulling the paint through a defined gate or structure removes the previous image, producing a representational ethereal layer to the work. A once sturdy industrialized object becomes indistinguishable, changing its function changes to an atmospheric mass. The mylar represents the original intention, a flat layer of haze or fog in which these structures are forming and breaking down into a motionless plane. The picture remerges from this illusive depth into a new reality where these orphaned objects begin to grow. Engines of industry are imagined away and buried in aesthetic transmutation. The viewer takes the role of a passenger in a strange but familiar land.
My work and interests come from the relationship that I have with the built environment. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit my hometown of Miami, collapsing the area’s social structures and organized dwellings in its path. Once this grid was disrupted, the veil of America’s Baby-Boomer
generation became a stripped horizon of expectations. Lakes by the Bay (by a large landfill) was blown into smithereens, and the artifacts of its entropic suburban swimming pools, tennis court lighting systems, and pumps for the artificial lakes were exposed. In the middle of each cul-de-sac were piles of functionless appliances, clothing, support beams and water damaged sheetrock.
These massive mounds of debris grew in size each day and held the histories of our lives and dreams. The pile began to change, at night the temporary streetlights would shine on the mounds, revealing new growths of mold, mildew and foliage. Through painting, I can create a resting place for these actions to exist and to allow future growth.
These modern day ruins stand for history as an irreversible process of dissolution and decay. Dominated by real estate porn and media sensationalism, our present day architecture, which can be seen cutting across the American landscape, reveals a world where artifice has become it’s own entity and means of production. What is given and what is taken in my paintings is deconstructed as an imaginary and alleged dream scene.
— Christopher Culver