Galen Cheney

Region: Northeast

I am something of a bricklayer, a builder of paintings. My materials, however, are not bricks and mortar, but canvas and paint, and my tools are my hands, brushes, knives, and scrapers. To build the paintings I don’t follow a blueprint, preferring rather to rely on my eyes, my guts, and my faith. I raise the paintings and I knock them down again and again. I make a set of deliberate strokes, then I wipe through those marks, blurring and changing them in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. Then, again, I apply the paint and blur, paint and blur, until eventually I take control of the painting, and fine tune it until it says what I need it to say, always allowing those wonderful accidents of paint to show through.

There is a balance to be struck between controlling the painting and giving myself over to the mystery of the unconscious, which is where the new, unsafe, and worthwhile work originates. If I don’t allow for that unconscious force to have a voice in the process, the painting has no life, and the work holds no interest for me. It is that moment of discovery—seeing something for the first time—that makes the whole enterprise worth bothering with.