I use the tools of classical painting to provoke emotions in my audience they might more often associate with theater. For example, I think great painting can be funny. My aim is an extremely high impact experience for the viewer. To go the distance as a painter, you need to step outside received ideas. Writing about Francis Bacon, John Russell said, “there’s never been a great painting that made people laugh.” I disagree. Humor is the most potent tool we have to disarm the viewer, and leave them vulnerable to fertile, emotionally complex and difficult concepts that are anything but funny. I see this dynamic in the work of Philip Guston, Twyla Tharp, Lawrence Weiner, and Dana Schutz. Many of the deepest and most unusual experiences in all kinds of art are only available because the artist has led you to them through emotions that are provocative but, at least at first, acceptable.