“We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real.”
– Haruki Murakami
Before I was an artist, I was a Marine and my war – the war in Iraq – was a fake war but I was there and my ears still ring with the sound of the rifle blast that killed the first Marine to die in the war in Iraq. He was 19 years old and he died instantly, a single bullet to his head, a suicide, the suicide of a boy soldier who was alone and scared and confused.
The war was fake but that young Marine’s suicide was real and when the military flew his body home it was under the cover of darkness because we were ashamed and, like him, confused.
That young man and our collective ambivalence inhabit every painting I make. The blues and yellows and reds are meant to be vivid and joyful and alive – like he was at some point – but my subject matter is war and the anger and sadness and regret that always accompany war; thick chalky paint crumbles away from the surfaces of my paintings and the edges are framed with jagged, nonlinear wood that is splintered and rotting.
My paintings are real and they are handmade – that’s the name of the series, Handmade, After The War – and they are meant to stand in opposition to the kind of factory made art that produces balloon dogs for purely pecuniary purposes.