Wood is very interested in the way images flash into awareness, fluoresce, and die. He makes a distinction between the images of fantasy (wishing, planning, regretting, wanting) and the very different experience of mental images that seem to arrive from outside of the ego and have the intensity of the real – they light up the nervous system and consciousness with an aliveness that approaches hallucination. It is this level of image and its transformations that he’s interested in discovering and experiencing in his painting – that first flash of image that arrives before the inevitable tip toward language, discursive thought, and narrative fantasy. Importantly, he discovers these pre-linguistic images in the direct process of painting - they could not exist in this form outside of painting. Rather than representations or illustrations of already experienced thought, the manipulation of paint reveals the image in its making.
As Eleanor Heartney describes Wood’s paintings: “They balance on the cusp between abstraction and representation, teasing us with details that seem sharp and tangible but refuse to cohere into any definitive image or narrative. … Wood’s paintings offer us glimpses of possibly recognizable things or places, but “human meaning” as [Wallace] Stevens would style it, remains just out of reach.” And as Holland Cotter recently wrote in the New York Times about Brian Wood: “…[Wood] creates a kind of Symbolist world in which emerging into life and being devoured by it are part of the same inexorable process. …the erotic and the spiritual are of a piece.”
About Brian Wood: Brian Wood, a Guggenheim Fellow, is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and is held in many other distinguished public and private collections. More about the artist: http://bit.ly/ccawood
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