Artsy: What’s the significance of the van Gogh imagery you employ?
The Starry Night motif is a funny story. It came out of a day when I saw that painting over and over again. There’s this kind of ubiquity to it, and a romance that people attribute to it. It became an interesting motif to me, connecting public thought and an icon of art.
I’m using it in this body of work as a way into the emotional content of the paintings—there’s an inherent, built-up charge that’s associated with Starry Night. It can be read as melancholy, or a notion of sincerity and sentiment, which has always been a “no-no” in art. I’ve also read that some people consider Starry Night to be one of the first abstract paintings. From Van Gogh’s vantage point, he couldn’t have geographically placed certain things in the way that he did, so I see it as one of the first examples in which an artist distorted the picture plane and collapsed the environment to form the image that he wanted.
So I use it as a signified space. It’s a setting upon which to paint, use a lot of the color relationships that are going on, and to place characters into.