I have been asked to explain my work at times. Here is an attempt.
For me to explain a painting is very difficult , more difficult than painting it. There are many format painters and I admire many of them but not all. Take for instance Wolf Kahn. He produces landscapes, New England landscapes, haystacks, barns , fields, houses all quiet well painted but always in the same way with good composition but the same sweet colours. Very attractive give us a view of common sights thing we are very aware of and hence salable . Or there is Alex Katz with the same style , faces that never smile and fingers, as Peter Scheljadale described as bananas. Now Mark Rothko hits the spot. He evokes moods and feelings through his colours.
I paint differently. When I approach a canvass I have no idea what is going to come out. I do not have a preconceived idea. Not that I don’t have ideas, I see shapes and forms, colours and images all the time , but they are laid away like bottles of wine to mature , to surface at a later date and incorporated into a work. For me each work is an adventure with a shape form or colour providing the key to a host of thoughts and associations. The result often surprises me. I realize this all comes from a journey into the labyrinth of the mind . It is not at all easy. Like I say I can admire some format painters and sometimes wish I where one. But my curiosity leads me down many paths and through strange doors. What do my paintings mean? When they come to a conclusion it is like a spiritual moment , one knows one has arrived. This does not answer ” What does your painting mean Mr Barrell ? You might ask Jo Bare the same question about his White on White paintings, I think the answer may be,” To provoke your thought process.” But it does answer how through a lot of work and deep thinking these things come about. A painting should evoke a deep emotion and be an energy source. Why are people flooding museums in record numbers. It is to refresh themselves with the thought provoking, energizing ideas that art generates and needs little explaining and as through history, from cave painting to our present day it weaves the continuing connections of our being.