Artist Statement: Influences

Erik ReeL open studio with Boom Duo [John Lacques and Noah Thomas] playing free jazz, 2016
My work has been influenced by micro- and nano-photography, poorly erased whiteboards, sidewalks, ruins, abandoned industrial sites, ancient stone surfaces, fire, sand, sea and ice, charcoal, hieroglyphs, esoteric texts, Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photographs, foundries, wars, concrete, female pubic hair, cytoplasm, craters, wood, photographs of things we cannot see with the naked eye in real time, paintings, railroad box-car markings, Skandinavian runes, blizzards, scratched surfaces, improvisational music, typography, the human voice, the night sky, the inside of an eyeball, the surface of other planets, scars, deserts, scorched earth, and the accidental, which is not really indeterminate, but the result of subtler action on a deeper plane of consciousness.

I have been particularly inspired by improvisational music: Miles Davis, Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Theolonus Monk, Dewey Redman, Flamenco, Imrat Khan and the improvisational traditions of the Indian sub-continent.

As for early influences, growing up in Seattle my visual starting point for painting was Mark Tobey’s White Writing paintings.. Other influences included Pacific Northwest Scandinavian textile, architectural, and design traditions, which tend to be highly abstract. Later, it was Klee and Miro: In terms of color theory there is a direct lineage from Itten and Klee to Albers to Dahn to myself. At university, influences also came from Michael Spafford and the Black Mountain school via Jacob Lawrence and Robert Jones, then slightly later, Cy Twombly via his exhibitions in the 1970s.

I have found that my researches into human mark making are capable of sensitizing people to the subtleties of their internal cognitive processing in ways that are not easy to verbalize, but are clearly perceived by those observers who take the time to look long enough to experience the paintings directly.

Erik ReeL