Rich Henry

Artistic Statement

In my paintings I am trying to capture the essence of the moment, whether it be deep thought or a subtle glance. I also convey the existential weight that haunts our lives. I stop working at the moment before completion as this allows the viewer to become more involved. I give my paintings a freedom, which allows many different interpretations. I want my paintings to have a light, a soul beyond the veil of the paint. I choose the subject matter based on a mood not a place. I study the expressions of people I see around me, I discard about 95% but there is that small minority that has a certain melancholy that affects me, almost as if they were emanating sadness. I usually remove them from the location I first saw them and place them in either some place more appropriate or a place that I imagined. My themes are often chosen from music that suggests mood and place; this gives the work its abstract edge. I donít feel that perspective and proportion must be absolutely correct in order to create an interesting work, or do I feel it hurts it. Although I do not write music to accompany each individual painting I have found that when I am taking a break from a painting I am inspired to write music. If music is art in time then my paintings are music in colors.

I have been asked if I know the people in my paintings? The answer is no. Of course this is a lie because I am affected by the world around me. A line can suggest anger, sadness, pleasure or joy; it is from these first lines that I work toward the whole. I allow each brushstroke to be affect by not only the ones that came before but also the ones that have yet to touch the canvas. I feel that work that is planned down to its last detail loses its soul and becomes a practice in technique. By leaving the technical mistakes visible the viewer can move beyond the pragmatic and into the realm of dreams. There is no room to grow in a painting that is technically perfect; no room for interpretation.

Solitude is the best word I would use to describe the figures in my paintings. Sometimes this solitude is reflection on something said or heard, other times on a sudden realization about oneís own existence, oneís place in the world. Most of the couples in the paintings are together but alone. Though I see people together I can often sense their aloneness at not being quite understood. The people that inhabit my paintings are the shy ones that capture youíre attention because they are so interesting because they donít speak.

If you ask me what a certain painting is about I wonít tell you, not because I have some "great reasoní not to tell you, but because Iíve left enough clues in the painting for you to find your own answer which may be different from the person next to you. Each answer is valid. I try to leave open-ended clues in the titles. I feel that titles should be poetic and transparent.

July 29, 2001

Rich Henry