Dionysian Classicism – Propositions

Statement for 1989 One-person exhibition, Gil Einstein Company, NYC


Recently I returned from Moscow after participating in the exhibition Painting Beyond the Death of Painting, curated by Donald Kuspit. My experience of Russian culture and insight received from the Russian artists I spoke with convinced me that the biggest social problem is creation of benevolent authority and protection of freedom of speech. To resist illegitimate authority and censorship is the responsibility of all progressive social action. Though the memory of Hitler and Stalin is receding, there are obvious repressive aspects of “apparatchik” rationality, and monopoly greed in the West. As Russia leaps on the capitalist locomotive, our cultures could benefit from artists creating emotionally significant images of joy and social well-being – particularly when our own government is at a new stage of artistic censorship.


These paintings celebrate Eros and earthly values They propose a new ethos based on psychoanalytic and ecological values They propose a material “spirituality” in sympathy with Green political values. Thus, they are a critique of instrumental rationality and supernatural illusions. They propose to sublate and transform Judeo-Christian values and ground rationality in Nature. In their celebration of joy in life, they are a critique of postmodernism and the necromantic chic and cynicism of black New York fashion.


They celebrate the natural parents as a benevolent image of government amused by the narcissism and greed of children – parents who take pleasure in guiding children to give up omnipotence and accede to the laws of Nature. I celebrate a benevolent, tolerant rationality which recognizes the priority of Nature. I celebrate a benevolent authority, a Nature-centered rationality – a Dionysian Classicism. This signifies Nature is prior to Reason. Secondly, Reason and Nature (emotion) are dynamically reciprocal. That is, Reason (art, technology) is best critiqued by maintenance of harmony with Nature and emotion and behavior benefit by observance of the instrument of Reason.


My perceptual paintings are direct, sensual measurement, discovery and celebration of Nature. The conjectural paintings augment perception with memory and emotional judgement – and constitute a critique of our behavior in Nature.


Bathers VII is not precisely an allegory, but uses semiotic “intuition” to make an image of social well-being in Nature. The kouros/kore, for example, are a sign of the history of representation, the unconscious, and a fantasy of tolerant wisdom. The image of the father is a sign of benevolent authority. Perhaps because of certain restrictions in our Judeo-Christian culture, there seem to be no prior significant images of fathers embracing children.