Interpretations and Meaning

There are no definitive interpretations of my abstract paintings. Viewers are invited to complete the paintings with their own imaginations. Like a mirror for the mind, the complex shapes and colours suggest different imagery to different people. As a result of this philosophy, I have avoided naming most of my artwork.

Sometimes, however, giving a painting a title—and therefore an interpretive framework—feels unavoidable. The centre painting below, for example, is often regarded as an elegant woman in a flowing corseted gown. It has also been seen as a representation of the Taj Mahal (the title of the painting Castles in the Sky is partially derived from the latter interpretation). Since the Taj Mahal is a tribute to an emperor’s deceased wife, I think both viewpoints compliment each other. I also wrote a musical theme for this painting (see video Castles in the Sky). I think the music adds another dimension to the painting, and yet another frame.

Sometimes I will name a painting when it feels like there is one central theme that unavoidably predominates. This was the case with my painting Tsunami. There is a very dark, dramatic, fiery tone to this piece, with a giant wave moving from left to right, surrounded by churning storms. The artwork was originally much taller, but I removed the top third of the canvas while I was still painting it, an extremely rare occurrence in my process. The original dimensions matched the proportions of ancient Chinese Shan Shui landscapes; in that painting tradition, the top quarter or third of the artwork is reserved as an expression of heaven. Although heaven is symbolically absent in Tsunami, no overarching philosophy is represented here. Rather, it is a depiction of the emotional perspective caused by tragedy; explanations invoking concepts of meaning and divine purpose no longer seem applicable or possible in the throws of overwhelming loss. This painting portrays unavoidable disaster: death, destruction, divorce, war, and natural cataclysms. 

Some people have commented that there is a charging elephant in the centre of the wave, another symbol of an unstoppable destructive force. I wrote a musical theme for Tsunami that can be heard in the video Paintings within Paintings III

The Great Wave by Hokusai, and Tsunami by Ron Matzov