Injection Painting

















Injection Painting

I have termed the paintings in this series “Injection Paintings” because the process in which they are created involves injecting oil paints directly into canvas with hypodermic needles. The paint is thinned with a medium to allow gravity to pull it through the fibers of the canvas. Subsequent injections are applied at the same point, allowing the colors to mix on the surface of the piece. The paintings in this series are on canvas, denim, and paper. The titles -for example, “254ccs”- indicate the amount of paint injected into each painting.

I started this series in 2004 because I was looking for tools to replace my brushes. Or, more honestly, I had the idea that a good strategy for making art was employing an interesting process that resulted in a compelling aesthetic. I decided that by replacing my brushes with a loaded object like a hypodermic needle, and then using it to narrow the process of painting to the point that a recognizable and repeatable aesthetic developed, I could generate some interesting work. I tried several tools before I arrived at the needles, but they seem to have stuck for several reasons. First, I like using the “stuck” pun when I talk about arriving at using the needles. Second, they have a similar precision and control to the brushes; albeit in a different manner. Third, hypodermic needles preexist in the minds of the viewer as a sort of sliding signifier invoking both pain and healing, desire and fear. In other words they invoke mixed emotion. Fourth, they’re just really fun to paint with. And fifth, while the aesthetic this process created was recognizable, it had enough plasticity to be developed in numerous and distinct directions. At their heart these paintings are process art.

The aesthetics of this series have evolved considerably over the course of its production. The earliest pieces can be described as minimal geometric abstraction, consisting primarily of intersecting lines of layered color. By altering a few variables, such as the angle I hold the canvas while injecting the paint and the amount of medium mixed with the pigment, I have been able to create a great diversity of compositions ranging from pure abstraction to realist landscape while staying true to the basic “rules” of the process.

Ultimately, these paintings are about a lot of things, themselves included. They can be viewed as a riff on modernism. Or, they can be taken as an exploration of the act and process of painting as a whole and how it can be illuminated and reinvigorated by the changing of a single variable. They can also be viewed as simply paint on a surface or as a representation that never quite resolves. I like that the imagery and metaphors become confused and malleable by the viewer. I like that they look like a lot of different things and nothing at all, at the same time. I like the idea that the invitation of the blank canvas is to be painted, like the invitation of the “blank” individual is to be medicated. But I would certainly never say the work is about that; it’s just one of the ways I like to talk about the needle metaphor. If these paintings are consistently about anything they are about painting.