James Brinsfield

Region: Midwest

My paintings are part of a dialogue with the beginnings of abstract expressionism, distilling an episode in art history in which Jackson Pollock took the rhythms of Thomas Hart Benton’s portrayal of the figure and reenacted them with his own body, creating expansive furling gestures. The resulting skeins of paint can be interpreted as man moving through the landscape.

I wanted to invent a new signature that doesn’t mimic the bravura techniques of the abstract expressionists so much as reference them as a touchstone for reappraising the model of gestural authenticity. I reinvestigate the gesture by subverting its immediacy, applying thick paint in a casual manner to sheets of paper that I then press into the semi-wet paint covering the canvas. The process is repeated again and again until I’ve filled the picture plane. The fragmented and indeterminate way I lay down gestural marks provides me with a psychological distance from the work. I’m never really “in” it the way Pollock and his generation were. What may look like emotion is a break with emotion . . . a succession of facades.