artist: painting/ drawing
"I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her 'I love you madly', because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say 'As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly'. At this point, having avoided false innocence, he will nevertheless have said what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her in an age of lost innocence. If the woman goes along with this, she will have received a declaration of love all the same. Neither of the two speakers will feel innocent, both will have accepted the challenge of the past, of the already said, which cannot be eliminated; both will consciously and with pleasure play the game of irony...But both will have succeeded, once again, in the speaking of love." postscript to The Name of The Rose, Umberto Eco 1984

Although I have been educated and trained in art in the era of Modern orthodoxy I am not an adherent of the Modern tradition. I am neither anti-Modern nor reactionary. My interest in and respect for Modernism were major motivations for my decision to complete an undergraduate degree in Art History while finishing my studies in studio art. More important to my decision to study Art History, however, was the fact that I was progressively discovering strong connections between what I was working toward in the studio and the sensibilities reflected in the representational images of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and Renaissance Italy. Whereas my attraction to content, both figurative and narrative, was an anathema under Modernism, I was rediscovering traditional concepts of picturemaking that had been handed down through centuries. The weight of this historical information reinforced my commitment to my own graphic "necessity" and it enabled me to resist adapting my work to then current trends.

For twenty years my works have been consistently evolving toward what can be described as an ambiguous symbolic narrative style. This type of narrative has also been called implicit allegory because of its veiled or plural meanings in contrast to the specificity of traditional allegory. It suggests more than it states and. as such, can be said to be continuing the approach started by the Symbolists in the late 19th century.

By integrating the classical motifs of highly organized, frontally layered space, well proportioned anatomy, clear definition of form and chiaroscuro my paintings actually parallel certain Modern themes because of their lack of heroic, didactic or historic narrative. My painitings explore the difficult, indistinct, transitional, tentative experience of figures caught between times of activity. This contemporary reintroduction of humanist content is a reflection of my need to cherish the fragility of human experience. In an age of holocaust, terrorism, and a catastrophic health crisis I feel need to reestablish common myths and shared experience by monumentalizing the ordinary.

As I continue to develop as a narrative artist I have discovered that representation gives the painter access to as rich a storehouse of forms and colors as any the human imagination can provide and that traditional ideas about truth and beauty cannot be as easily dismissed as current taste and trends might indicate. The classic elements that are found in my art are meant to provide both a frame and point of comparison for contemporary emotional experience by establishing a stable context from which to contemplate the insecurities of our time. In this context my work could be said to be pursuing a reweaving of the ordered beauty and narrative clarity of Giotto with the contemporary cinematic search for the meaning as represented in the works of Kurosawa, Woody Allen, and Ingmar Bergman.

My pursuit of a credible synthesis of modern uncertainties with the timelessness of the Classical tradition results in an art that can't help but be self-conscious of its past. My images seek a plausible representation of the present while alluding to previous worlds of painting and myth. My respect and appreciation for the past along with my sensitivity for the present fuel my desire to engage in an art that is broadly accessible and democratic.

This blend of motivations clearly aligns my work with the overlapping and crisscrossing sensibilities that are converging under the conceptual umbrella that has been categorized as Classical Post-Modernism.

MAIN MENU
email: brian_curtis@mac.com
University of Miami Faculty Webpage