Mark Joshua Epstein
My shaped works pose questions about the visual cultures associated with gayness. Discordant combinations of marks and patterns are layered, interrupted, obfuscated, and, finally, forced into crooked and irregular polygonal frames. Exploring the overlapping politics of taste, pleasure, aesthetics, and symbolism, the works eschew expectations of tradition as their handmade, painted surfaces slip out of any legible lexicon. By not operating within contemporary expectations of LGBTQ visual culture, the objects I make are unsolvable puzzles—they avoid easily explaining themselves. My request to the viewer is for a slower and deeper read than is typically afforded by much of what we consume with our eyes today. By drawing out the viewer’s engagement, these shaped works open up new ways of thinking about how a queer experience might manifest itself visually. When hung on the wall, the sculptural paintings are transformed into intimate places into which visitors are invited but where they are not expressly pampered. Abandoning the convention of rectilinear supports makes these works difficult to level: they require the head-tilted viewer to adjust their perspective, expectations, and approach.