Doubles and Duplicity
A doppelganger is often defined as a person’s ghostly double, an entity that haunts its earthly counterpart. It appears in mythology, in literature, in the painting and sculpture of many cultures. It is one’s look-alike briefly glimpsed across the street or on the far side of the room. It is sometimes understood as an evil twin or bad omen, a premonition of death or of impending misfortune. In literature, Mr. Hyde is the evil counterpart of Dr. Jekyll, and the duplicitous Iago both Othello’s devoted servant and his vengeful enemy. And there is Judas and there is Brutus.
But a doppelganger may also be understood more broadly as an alter ego, a disowned or shadow self, a female counterpart to the male, an animal counterpart to the human. It is the person underneath the person, and the reality underneath the reality. It is doubleness, contradictoriness, and the multi-layered nature of experience. Doppelgangers perhaps appear to remind us that reality has many levels, that all objects, whether animate or inanimate, have their contrasting counter objects. We perceive that the world is populated both by embodied beings and by ghosts, that present and past are interwoven, that actions are both intentional and unintentional, conscious and unconscious.
As a visual artist, I am trying to capture something of this complexity - the shadow beneath the light, the painting underneath the painting, the archetype underneath the person or animal. Reality is both inside the painting and outside of it. A painting is just paint, but also not just paint. It dupes us into believing that it means something. Shapes are just shapes, curves just curves, straight lines just straight lines, but they are also human and animal forms, trees and buildings, rocks, leaves, and water. They are sometimes ambiguous, sometimes exactly what they are. They are in balance with each other or not in balance. Hence the paintings displayed here are both intentional and unintentional. Some were painted specifically with this library in mind.
Technique also comes into play. Lines scratched through one layer of wet paint with a palette knife reveal a layer beneath, a different reality with different colors and shapes. Parallel rays of light slanting down from above and outside of a painting suggest that there is an outside reality. I paint primitive rather than realistic representations of humans and animals, males and females: archetypal forms from the world of dreams. Natural forms and symbolic objects are doubled and mixed. Doubled persons, doubled animals, doubled trees, doubled rays of light. Some of the paintings are comprised of two joined panels, but painted separately.
And finally, there is an intention to express my own experience of doubleness, my own doppelgangers. I am a man and I am an animal, a man and a woman, a warrior and a weakling, a serious self beneath a playful self. I paint colors in harmony and disharmony with other colors. I paint clutter and order. Rhythm, but not simple or perfect rhythm. Passion and cold rationality. As artist, I love the spontaneous and unplanned, but it also threatens me: it was done, but I did not do it. I want to master it and I run the danger of destroying it. I seek harmony and simplicity, but my doppelganger is at war with both.