- ABOUT RECENT WORK
My paintings translate words into visual language. These panels with texts and accompanying abstract structures might be called illuminated manuscripts of the everyday.
Written in these recent paintings are collections of ambient found language: fragments from street signs, junk mail, end user licensing agreements, email, labels, subway ads, receipts, newspapers, and instruction manuals. Transcripts of fine print from the relentless flow of information surrounding us are used to derive a personal abstract vernacular.
Each panel is a slate on which penciled and inked text and notations accompany resulting geometric configurations of acrylic gouache paint. I print columns of letters and code them into corresponding columns and rows of painted geometry. In some paintings the same text is coded in more than one way. Different systems and layerings of visual elements--color, mark, shape, division—yield crystalline structures, linear networks, and other abstract dialects.
These works originated with small studies on graph paper in my datebook, made while riding the subway. To escape my habits of composition, I played games with numbers, randomness, and, finally, words. The results led to work with a crazy logic, part text and part visual intensity, that I'm still pursuing after more than a decade.
About the paintings' texts:
Some texts document a journey or a particular place. Others are rosters of related fragments from disparate sources: instructions, guarantees, regulations, warnings. There are lists of acronyms, rules, book titles, artists, names of streets, and names of trees. These collected scraps from our language environment may be banal, poetic, nostalgic, ominous, or ironic.
It takes close looking to make out words from the lettered stacks. The paintings can be seen without being read. The texts are a kind of deep background, "fine print," like some of their actual sources. There is resonance for me in these texts. But I hope the works as a whole, with their regimented tangles of notation and paint, have a visual presence requiring no glossary.
Leslie Roberts, 2016